Saturday, June 14, 2008

To ebook or not? That is only one of the questions...

Posted by Unknown at 1:45 PM
Last weekend at the Lori Foster Reader-Author Get Together, one of the big topics of conversation was ebooks. Do you read ebooks? Why or why not?

My answer: I like the paper. I like passing on my books and seeing where they go. Having said all of that...I also travel a lot and usually take 4-5 books with me on a trip. (I never know exactly what I want to read next.) Plus, there is a seemingly limited selection of books.

Of course, it got me thinking...I'm usually an early adopter of technology; so why not the ebook? I've tried audio books and just can't do them. Music/TV/Radio is just background noise to me and I can't focus on an audio book. But I think the biggest reason that I haven't adopted the ebook is the ability to hold, feel, and try ebook readers. Last weekend I got to play with my friend Laura's ebook reader. And that has got me started.

So last Sunday I started researching ebook readers. First, I wanted to look at them and compare. Ha! Good luck with that! I went to BestBuy, Circuit City, and Barnes and Noble. No ebook readers there! Finally, I came home and started doing some internet research...

One definite downside of traveling with an ebook reader is that they are electronic devices. This means the ebook reader will need to be shut off once the airplane cabin door is closed and can't be re-opened until the airplane reaches 10,000 feet. For those of you who have traveled lately, you know that means you could lose a lot of reading time sitting at the gate or on the runway (if you are lucky enough not to be stopped on the tarmac.)

The question seems to boil down to...To Kindle or Not to Kindle.
Amazon's Kindle seems to be the leading ebook reader based on the reviews I have read. Of course, you can only buy the Kindle and Kindle books from Amazon. (Of course, that didn't scare me away from my much loved iPod!) The only way to test drive one before you buy is if someone in your area is willing to meet you. Amazon devotes an entire discussion topic to let you find someone in your city who will show you their kindle. Not so easy trying to hook up with someone via a discussion thread. Although it supports unprotected Mobipocket books (.MOBI, .PRC), plain text files, and HTML and Word documents, Kindle also uses its own proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW). It does not fully support the widely accepted PDF format, but Amazon provides "experimental" conversion to the native AZW format. A user may also convert PDF files to supported formats using third-party software. Advantages: Download/Wireless delivery capability; Newspaper capability; size (about the size and weight of a trade paperback); selection of titles available. Disadvantages: Apparently the cover comes off easily - there are entire discussions dedicated to the cover; also, the Kindle Terms of Use forbid transferring eBooks to someone else or using them on a different device.

The Others. There are several other brands (Sony, Franklin eBookman, ECTACO jetbook, ebookwise) . The rest of the ebook readers finish somewhere after the Kindle in the online reviews I have found. Only the Sony ebook reader appears to be available for purchase anywhere but online. Checking the Sony site, the Sony Reader is only available locally at Walmart. (Don't even get me started...I'm not GOING there!)

I'm not sure what I'll do. If I buy one, I'm still leaning toward the Kindle. I've got major issues with not being able to pass on ebooks once I've read them. Plus, what will I read once the airplane door is closed and we haven't reached 10,000 feet?

Are you a user? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on ebook readers!


Candy on June 15, 2008 at 7:09 PM said...

The not being able to pass it on thing kills me. I really really really want a Sony one. I got play with one at Maker Faire last October. I'm pretty sure the guy thought I was going to make off with it. LOL. It was comfortable, looked good and was easy on the eyes. The problem? I'm a bookcrosser. Not being able to pass them on when I'm done... well, that's just blasphemy!

Laura J. on June 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM said...

You know I love mine!!! There are a lot of great books out there that you can't get in paper so if I didn't have my ereader I would miss out on a lot of good authors. I use mine only for books that aren't paper, unless I get them for reviews, but most of them are ebooks anyway.

Also keep in mind Ann that the one I have (ebookwise) is the only one that has a backlight for reading in the dark. Great for when the power goes out at night. No holding a flashlight in your teeth to turn the pages. It's alot like reading in the dark as a kid under the blankets with a flashlight, but so much nicer!!!

Another advantage to a reader is since I almost always have mine in the car with me, I can read during long traffic delays when the traffic isn't moving, or at stop lights (especially the ones that stay red forever). When the traffic starts to move or the light turns green I don't have to fumble around for a bookmark or worry that my spot/page will get lost, I just sit my reader down and when I pick it up, it's right where I left off, even if the powersaver feature shuts down the reader.


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