CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER HANSEN
I am a big fan of electronic reading. 99.999% of the books I purchase are in eBook format, and have been for over a year. I will not go back to traditional books as it doesn’t fit in with my lifestyle.
I love the convenience of taking a book anywhere, the ease of purchasing them, the buy-me-right-now-because-you-know-you-want-me availability – and I never have to wait till it ships. If I want a book, I can have it in the time it takes to type in my credit card information and I never have to change out of my PJ’s.
Um, yes… I have purchased that “next book in the series” at 3 am because I had to find out what happened. I’m not proud of it. The first step to recovery is admitting addiction. I guess that could be seen as a negative to reading eBooks. Though, I chose to see it as positive.
I want to tell everyone who says, “I could never do an eBook. I can’t give up paper. It’s not the same.” Yes, it’s not the same – it’s better.
Why should you consider eReading? Well, besides the fact that it’s green and it will save you money – if you live on Okinawa it will save you lots of frustration.
On Okinawa… Do I need to make a comment on the sad selection of books they have for sale? Seriously? There’s a reason that most of them are dusty. Worse, they don’t even carry the genres I would buy.
What’s a person to do? You can go to the library. Except, once again, they don’t carry anything I’m interested in reading. And you can order from Amazon or Barnes and Noble… but you have to wait for it to ship to you. I hate to wait. AND I hate paying for shipping. AND I hate paying full price for books.
Reading on an eBook device is not like reading on a computer (unless you chose one with a backlit display). Most of them use eInk technology. In your spare time you can Google eInk, but basically it means that it uses particles that are “suspended” to make the reader look like paper. Because of that, it uses very little power (making your battery stay charged for longer periods of time) and is easy on the eyes.
They also are space efficient. I don’t know about you, but these tiny Okinawa houses cannot handle my book collection. When you’re done with a book it’s on your computer taking up almost no space. After a while, burn it on a disk and keep it forever.
Things to think about before you purchase an eReader:
Digital Rights Management (DRM) – formats are not compatible with one another.
I think the very first thing that everyone who is considering an eBook should understand is what is DRM, and what does it do? DRM is the encryption that various retailers place on your book to prevent you from sharing it with others. It’s similar to what is on a DVD and downloaded music from iTunes.
Any new book sold from a major publisher will have DRM. Old titles (those that have lost their copyright) and ebooks sold by smaller online venues may not have them. These non-DRM books are the only ones that can be used on any device.
What you must be aware of, is that one DRM is not compatible with another. So, if you decide to purchase a Sony reader, you can only purchase books from the Sony store that use their DRM – and so on, for the majority of the other readers (I will break them down for you).
Why should this matter to you? Well, in order to make an informed decision, you should look at all the costs involved. Sony tends to carry books at a higher price than I can find elsewhere. Why should I pay $10 (plus) for a book that I can find other places online for under $5 (and often with rebates and buyers rewards that make it even less)? Sounds silly, right? Even though I’ll fully admit that the Sony reader is sexy — but having a sexy looking reader does not equal money in my pocket. When Sony claims that their eReader is now “open” – it only means that you can use non-DRM books as well as the Sony DRM.
Not that I’m picking on Sony. They have a really terrific reader and you would be happy with it if you decided to purchase one. I’m only using them as an example. Each reader has its own set of drawbacks. I’ll break them all down and let you decide.
Where are you going to buy your books?
The next thing you need to consider is where you are going to be purchasing your books. As in the description of the Sony DRM above, please understand that most readers (Sony, Amazon, eBookwise) force you to buy from their stores. I encourage you to log onto their sites and see if they carry books that you’d want to buy. Compare the prices. Look at their specials.
Personally I like to use the Mobipocket format because I can get a DRM code for up to four eReaders. I do not, however, buy Mobipocket through their company. I purchase most of my books through Fictionwise in the Mobipocket format.
You can also purchase books straight from the publisher (again, not for Amazon, Sony, or eBookwise readers). Here’s the link to a few publisher ebook stores:
I would try to stay away from buying directly from the retailers for two reasons. One, you can often find a better deal at one of the other online booksellers for the same book and two, the online booksellers will keep a copy of your purchase in case you lose your electronic copy. The publishers will not.
Lights / backlights
Some readers come with a backlight option. This can be convenient to read in bed. Be made aware if you are using a backlight, the battery for your reader will drop significantly. And often, if you have a backlight option, those readers will not be able to be read in direct sunlight.
If you have a reader without a backlight, you can always clip a book light onto the cover.
This is a biggie! Make sure you take into consideration how long the battery will last for your reader. Are you a heavy reader? If so, you don’t want to end up with a reader that will last only a few hours and find yourself tethered to an outlet.
If you purchase a designated eReader, this shouldn’t be such a big deal because they are designed to be used for many hours at a time. You do need to be careful when purchasing a device that is not specifically made to be an eReader – that’s when you’ll have battery issues.
SOME EREADER OPTIONS:
Apple iPad (UPDATE CONTRIBUTED BY LEEANN STEVENS, February 2011)
I surprised my husband, John, with an iPad for his birthday! And it was a wonderful surprise. For a few weeks before his birthday, he talked about getting a Kindle. John is a big reader, 99% of the books in our home are his. But I decided to go with the iPad cause there is SO much more you can do with it. So, I bought the 16 GB with WiFi only for $489 from Kadena BX (they offer a $10 discount).
For reading books on the iPad, you have to download the iBook App from the App store. It is free to download. The App is very user friendly. You can read a preview of the book before buying it — you get a whole chapter to browse through before you buy it.
Once you download the books onto your iPad, they are available to you on your iPod and iPhone as well! The backlight is a great advantage, this allows you to read in bed while the lights are still out. You can turn the iPad horizontally to view two pages or vertically for one page at a time.
Viewing options: At the top left corner, there are 2 options: access the library and accessing the books contents. You can also return to where you last left. At the bottom of the page, there is a scroll bar, with this you can also scroll to any page you want. At the top right hand corner, you can adjust the brightness of your pages, from completely dark to completely bright. You can also change the font for all your iBooks. You have 6 fonts to choose from. And you can also change the size of your letters (about 9 sizes to choose from). You can also give your pages a sepia look.
Reading options: You can search the book for a specific words or phrases. Once you have entered your search words or phrases; you can do a Google search or a Wikipedia search as well. You can also bookmark the pages. Once you bookmark pages, you can return to the book contents and you can view the bookmarked pages right beside the table of contents tab. With one touch you can go the pages bookmarked from here. The bookmarked pages have the chapters, page number and the date it was bookmarked. You can also resume anytime to where you left right from this page. Over here you can also view your highlighted pages as well.
While flipping through pages, you have a couple of options. Who knew flipping through pages had options? You can turn it quickly or do a slow turn. The slower flipping of pages is fun! As you flip the page, you can see what’s on the other side of the page while flipping!
Double click words/phrases or passages and with that, a menu pops up. The menu includes Copy, Dictionary, Highlight, Note and Search options. With the copy option, you can paste it in your Notes App. If you choose the dictionary option, a dictionary will pop up for you, without leaving the page. Highlighted text has its own sub menu. You can choose colors for your highlighter (yellow, green, blue, pink or purple). You can also access the note option from here which allows you to add sticky notes where ever you want! Great, non messy way to keep notes.
The iPad has upto 10 hours of battery life! There are 150,000+ books at the iBookStoreBooks and they range from $9.99 to $14.99. There are a lot of free Ebook Apps too!!
You can also download the Kindle on the iPad. You can get a lot of books for free there too! New releases on the Kindle start from $9.99. Amazon offers a wide range of free books at their website, check it out here. The Kindle App has the following options, too; bookmark your pages, search options, a menu option that has a go to menu- cover, table of contents, the beginning of the book, location, book extras (shows me characters and people in the book, important places etc.) and my notes and marks; And lastly you can adjust the font size, background colors, fonts, page brightness and option to view one page or two pages at a time. With the Kindle, your pages slide across but doesn’t flip.
John enjoys his ipad and I hope you do, too!
Amazon Kindle (UPDATE CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER GELORMINE, April 2011)
Cost: $139 for the basic Wi-Fi version
Display: 6″ diagonal E-Ink® pearl electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 4-level gray scale
Size: 7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.335″
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Here’s the thing: the Kindle is great. I bought mine in late June 2009, 32 days before the price on the 2nd generation dropped from $265 to $199. Was I initially upset that I paid the higher price? Yes. Did I get over it quickly? Oh yes. And now the latest version is even smaller, faster, and cheaper.
With the basic Wi-Fi version you can turn on your wireless connection (at home or wherever you have access to free WiFi), shop in the Amazon Kindle store and start reading a minute later. For me this was not a deal-breaker in any sense of the word; although I’m what one friend refers to as an “extreme reader” I’m not so impatient that I have to have a new book RIGHT NOW WITHOUT WAITING.
But if you’re sitting on the beach at Okuma and run out of books to read but don’t want to schlep your laptop to the restaurant to take advantage of their free WiFi, perhaps the 3G + Wireless or larger-screen DX are better options, though each of those comes with a higher price tag. However, these may also allow you to surf the web a bit, whereas the WiFi version does not.
The big draw of the Kindle is its electronic ink. It’s not backlit so you will need an external source of light to illuminate your screen if you’re reading in bed at night or on an airplane, but my book light does the job well. I’ve read for hours on end through my Kindle without my eyes getting tired they way they often do after I’ve been staring at a computer screen. And it’s lightweight and small enough that it fits well in my purse or backpack to bring it most anywhere. Plus when I have the wireless turned off I can read for several weeks without every needing to recharge the unit.
The biggest downfall to the Kindle is the price of its books. Back when I first got mine e-books cost no more than $9.99, but two years later many are costing upwards of $15 for a single book, particularly new releases. On the flip side of this, many publishers will often promote an author’s new book by offering others for a very low cost or for free; many of the now out-of-print classics are also often offered at no cost. It requires a bit of checking in on a regular basis but I’ve discovered some great authors this way. And the selection of books for sale is enormous. Really, there are few books I’ve looked for on Kindle that haven’t been available, and they’re often available in this format before being published in hard cover. If you pre-order a book it’ll be sent to your account at midnight of the publishing day.
One other aspect of the Kindle that I especially love is its integration with my iPhone. I can read several chapters or pages on either my Kindle or through the app on my phone and they’ll automatically sync to the farthest point with each other so that I can pick it up wherever I am. Note: if you have an iPhone or iPad/Blackberry/Android/Windows phone you can put the app on any of these types of smartphones and create an account without needing an actual Kindle itself. (And I’m not saying this out loud, but I hooked up my Amazon account to the apps on my husband’s, sister’s, and father’s iPhones as well, so that they can download any of the books I’ve bought to read for themselves. I wouldn’t recommend doing this with anyone you don’t trust not to abuse having access to a credit card on file, though.)
In all, I’ve found that the biggest downfall to reading on a Kindle versus a paperback is my inability to share those books with friends or family without also loaning out my unit. And I’m just not that nice.
The Sony reader comes in two options a less expensive one without a backlight – and then the upgraded version.
Cost: starting at $299.99
Display: 6” (the upgraded version has a touch screen)
Size: Approx. 5 1/9 x 6 7/9 x 13/32 inches (127.6 x 174.3 x 9.7 mm)
Weight: 10 oz. without soft cover
The PX on Foster and BX on Kadena are both carrying the Sony 505 for $289. You might want to go play with it before you make your decision. At least you can get an up close and personal look at eInk technology.
This is the option I went with. Once again, my personal specifications were that it must be Mobipocket compatible (as I wanted to purchase my books through Fictionwise and have numerous DRM codes). I really like this one. It works well. I’d recommend it.
Cost: $279.99 (on sale now)
Display: ePaper, 600*800 (6 inch) (E-Ink technology)
Weight: 220gr (incl. battery)
I have not used this eReader. But I like the price. Price may be the number one consideration when starting out. You may not want to spend a lot of money to see if you like eReading. With the eBookwise reader, you can purchase books from Fictionwise. However, I do not think you would be able to purchase books from another retailer.
Cost: starting at $109.95
Display: Back-lit 5.5″ diagonal 4-bit grayscale LCD touch screen; half-VGA resolution
Size: 5″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″
Weight: 18 ounces
If you want to see if you like eReading, but don’t want to purchase a dedicated eReading device, you may be able to read from a device you already have.
Some of those options are: iPod, iTouch, smart phone, PDA, computer, Palm Pilot, etc. If you have a device you think you can use, Google it. You’d be surprised by the amount of devices that you can program to read books. (You can also leave a comment here and I, or someone else, may be able to point you in the right direction).
If you’re still not convinced, try a free book. There are plenty of books that have fallen out of copyright and are free to download. Planet PDF and Project Gutenberg are two sites that you can start with.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the eReaders on the market. Nor is it a list of all the places you can purchase online books. It’s meant to be a jumping off point to get you started. If you happen to have a different eReader or bookseller that you’d like to suggest, please leave a comment and let us know about it, or email Joelle to have your updated review added right here into the post.