So yesterday I made a fool of myself, but so did most of the other people in the room, so I feel justified.
I attended an AAR panel, similar to the one in November, except this one was from non-traditional publishers and other technology companies. Google Books was there (not all of it, just a guy), playwright company was there, some people in audio books, and a representative of for the Kindle devision of Amazon.
Now keep in mind that most people have not seen the Kindle. It's only available online, and Amazon doesn't have stores to host demos. I had not seen it, nor had most of the agents in the room, so of course we all swarmed this guy with questions about it as we made an all-out mob trying to get a chance to hold it in our hands while the cash bar was still open.
The big seller of eBooks (versus my cheaper tablet PC) is their eInk technology. It uses a different screen than an LCD screen. It has no back light and it's much easier on the eyes. I asked the Amazon representative if eInk could be ported to a normal computer, and he said it was hardware, not software - hence, the pricetag, because you need to buy the device (or another e-Reader like the Sony or the iLiad) to have the technology.
I was wrong about a few things. Technically, you do have unlimited storage, if you buy memory cards. He gave the example of a customer who'd already bought 500 books on his Kindle. He did not address customer concerns (like out-of-range wireless issues, or the cost of Kindle books, though I admit I think their prices are not outrageous compared to what they could be). Nonetheless, like any piece of technology, we wanted to hold it, play with it, see how it worked. Our collective inner-geek emerged.
Five minutes later, I calmed down and my opinion on the advise is only slightly raised. It's still too expensive and too reliant on wireless. No, it will not replace books (he didn't think that, either). Does the eInk technology have potential? Yes. Could I see myself buying one if the price were much lower and the technology a bit more advanced? Yes. But for that moment, I wanted one.
This is why I don't go to tech demos very often.