This is the second post in a series on ebooks and ereaders. The first of this series was on the pros and cons of ebooks.
Now let’s assume that you’ve decided to buy an ebook reader. The first thing you notice is that there’s a lot of different ones, they do different things, take different files and are different sizes. So how do you choose?
First you need to know some basics. E-ink is the format you want for the screen, because anything backlit is the same as reading on a computer, ie hard on your eyes. Most of them are e-ink, but some cheaper ones aren’t.
Not all ebook files are useable on all ereaders. The main ones are mobi files (can only be read on a Kindle unless you know a secret -see more below) and epub (can’t be read on a kindle). PDF’s are accepted by most readers but they do strange things format wise in many of them, so epub is becoming the industry standard for non Kindle readers. But if PDFs aren’t security protected, they can be changed into epub using a free program called Calibre. Few ereaders take doc files but many take text files.
Some readers have keyboards with them (generally more costly) so you can write memos and make notes on books. Others are just for reading on. Most have photo capacity and mp3 players, and on some you can download directly to the reader without having to go through a computer. (Are you really so desperate for a new book that you can’t wait to get to your computer?) Therefore first you need to consider what you want to be able to do with your ebook reader.
It’s a good idea not to just grab a Kindle. Do your research first. I googled reviews of the various kinds of ereaders and ended up on forums and blogs where users shared their experiences. This was very illuminating and I recommend that once you think you know what you want, check out the reviews for it before you actually buy.
The choice is basically between buying a Kindle or one of the other readers on the market. Although Kindles are very reasonably priced now and have a lot of features, there are some downsides.
The wireless direct download features are only available in the US. ( Oh yes. It’s only written in the fine print)
The keyboard means that the size of the reading screen is smaller compared to other readers.
In most cases you will only be able your books from Amazon. (Amazon’s attempt to monopolize the market) However smart publishers are providing .mobi files (ie ebook files for Kindle) now if you buy directly from them, so this may not be such an issue soon.
Previously you could only read kindle files on your kindle unless you emailed your non kindle file to Amazon and paid a 10c fee to have it altered to a Kindle file. The kindle 3, however, now takes text and doc files as well as PDF.
You still can’t read your kindle files on any other reading device, so if you buy a different reader later or want to loan your friend an ebook and they don’t have a kindle, you’re stuck. Unless you have the secret I revealed in how to change a kindle file into an epub file. I use this often so I can get the Amazon cheap deals and still read them on my Sony.
Nooks, Kobos and other simple (and cheaper) readers have fewer features and my research indicated that some of them had issues with things like slow page turning, poor button positioning, limited battery life and slow charging. The Sony I ended up with was one of the few that took doc files and also the keyboard and controls, being a touch screen, doesn’t limit the size of the reading space, which was important for me.
So decide what you want your reader to do, then research the options. This is the best comparison and review site I found. http://ebook-reader-review.toptenreviews.com/light/
Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one? Why did you choose it? Are you happy with it?