Thinking of E-Readers

Teresa’s post on the subject of e-readers caught my attention because something similar to her experience has happened to me too. I wasn’t interested in e-readers at all, until all the sudden it turned out that I was. I’ve said for a while now that I have nothing against e-readers per se and that if I ever felt the need for one, I would get it. But I hadn’t felt the need for one. I love paper books and hate the idea of not being able to do some of the things you can do with regular books: flip through them quickly, share them, admire their beautiful, unique covers, smell them, fill bookcases with them.

I think I will always feel this way. But  some of the things you can do with e-readers do appeal to me, one of which is downloading free classics. I spent some time exploring various sites that offer free books (Eva’s post contains links to a number of great sites) and was amazed by what is on offer. I also learned in the last week or so that it’s possible to get review copies of books electronically; Stefanie introduced me to NetGalley, a site where readers can request digital galleys of forthcoming books. I’m also intrigued by the idea of reading magazines on an e-reader.

The truth is, though, that I already own an e-reader: my iPhone. I just haven’t thought of it much as an e-reader; I downloaded book apps a long time ago, but I never took seriously the idea of reading anything that way. The screen seemed too small. However, I was curious enough about NetGalleys to request one of their books to see what reading on an iPhone would be like. and I’m now in the middle of Joyce Carol Oates’s forthcoming memoir A Widow’s Story, all of which I’ve read on the phone. I can also read the book on my computer, of course, but I’ve found I like reading on the phone better; the screen is small, yes, but I can curl up with it much more comfortably on the couch. And the truth is, the small screen doesn’t bother me much. If I were a faster reader, I would get frustrated at having to flip to a new page so often, but at my reading pace, it’s not so bad, and the pages “turn,” or whatever verb is appropriate, very quickly. I can adjust font size, margin size, and screen brightness, and I can bookmark and annotate passages.

But still, having a larger screen would be nice, and hence a new e-reader. (Also, while I can read ePub files on my iPhone, I can’t read PDFs; the font on those documents is much too small and not easily adjusted, as least as far as I know.) I like the way the Kindle looks, but I don’t like Amazon and don’t want to deal with their finickiness about file types. So I’m thinking about either the Nook or the Kobo. I like the idea of doing what a number of people I know do, which is to use the e-reader only for free books. The number of free classics will only increase, and I have a feeling electronic review copies will become more and more popular, so it seems like there will be plenty of free things to read. It’s funny how quickly I can go from not wanting something to thinking it would be a great idea to have it!

17 Comments

Filed under Books, Reading

17 responses to “Thinking of E-Readers

  1. Eva

    That’s exactly what happened to me a couple of months ago! I went from thinking ereaders were nice but not for me to suddenly wanting one for all those free classics. ;)

    Thanks for reminding me to check out NetGalley!

  2. Hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve only ever seen a kindle but I really didn’t like the small screen. Still, I’m happy for anyone who finds it adds to their reading pleasure!

  3. I came to the e-reader by accident. Because of back problems I bought an I-Pad as soon as they became available so that I could have computer access without having to carry a laptop around with me. I hadn’t realised that it had e-reader capacity but was soon using I-Books, Kindle and Stanza as reading platforms. I’d thought that I would never get on with an e-reader but within minutes the ‘machine’ had disappeared and I was just as deep in the story as ever. I have now bought a Kindle, because of size and weight and battery life. If I don’t need the computer facilities then the Kindle is even lighter and I can easily slip it into a bag. Plus, with a cover that opens like a book I am even less aware of the difference in media than I am with the I-Pad. I can’t imagine life without an e-reader now.

  4. It is interesting how our perspectives change, isn’t it? As I said in my post, the main thing giving me pause right now is that I have so many other books available to read right now. I think it’s just a matter of time before I get one, and I’ll admit that I’ve been haunting ebay a bit more than usual to see if I can catch a Sony reader.

    I do have a iPod Touch, which I suppose I could try out as an ereader. I could probably adjust to the small screen, but I think the backlit screen would hurt my eyes after a while. The e-ink is one of the things that I really like about the major e-readers out there, and it’s what I wouldn’t get on the iPod.

  5. Sounds like me. I have done the same with my iPod touch and phone, but would now like a bigger screen. Stay out of the Apple store, or you will decide that nothing will do other than an iPad (love the way it mimicks page-turning and the way you can do so quickly or slowly, like a real page). They are much more expensive, though, so Bob and I are waiting for the second generation and hoping they come down a little in price.

  6. Another one who felt no need, but appreciates many of the benefits now that I have one. My favorite feature is that I can get a book in minutes if I run out of print books. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, reading material appears magically in moments!

  7. I don’t mind reading on my ipod, but I did go ahead an get a Sony ereader which I’m super happy with. I do like that it has a larger screen and its battery is much better, which is great on longer trips where my ipod touch just wouldn’t suffice. Certainly my ereader hasn’t caused me to forsake traditional books but I do find it a lovely complement. Plus, getting all those classics for free and being able to have easy access to things like Overdrive (via my public library) and Net Galley is a great perk too!

  8. Me too! I thought the Kobo would just be another gadget. I do like electronics but resist them bec of practicality and budget. But I love it and I haven’t stopped telling everyone I meet how much. I find I read faster because my eyes don’t have to scan back and forth much on the screen. And it’s so comfortable to hold. I mostly use it (so far) for free books and the library. I still want paper books for something I want to keep, re-read, lend, mark up, make notes on etc. But I’ve had it for less than a month. My use may yet expand. And of course I’ll have to see the longevity and durability of it. That will affect my affection for it!

  9. Getting sucked in by the dark side? As if I can talk with my Kindle ;) If you are thinking you might want to read magazines on your ereader, you might want to take the color Nook for a test drive at a B&N store. My boss who also has a Kindle, got a color Nook for Christmas and has transfered all of her magazine subscriptions to it. She loves it.

  10. I have a Sony, which I love, but if I was buying a dedicate ereader (as opposed to an iPad) I’d probably be getting the Kobo. I have nothing against the Nook but since I’m Canadian a Kobo would just be a better option. I do love my Sony but if I were buying today a Kobo is just that much cheaper. I would miss the built in light though. I love my built in light.

  11. I’ve noticed a number of people who I think had no interest in ereaders are now getting ereaders. It does make me curious about them, too. A few days after Christmas I went to B&N to spend one of my gift cards and they had a counter set up in front of the doors with their Nooks and the line amazed me. So many people had received them for Christmas and were getting help getting started with them. I’ve not investigated things (will have to look at your links), but I think I’d be most interested in a Nook as it has color and wireless (though probably the Kindle does too). Since I recently had wireless hooked up at home I could actually use it. Like you I would be most interested in magazines and freebies (knowing how bad I already am about buying books I could see myself going crazy ordering new books, which would not be a good thing as I try and pay off my credit card). I’m not quite there yet, but I am more intrigued by the idea than I was initially. I still love reading from paper books, but I can certainly see the attraction!

  12. I know someone who has the Kindle and can get to Project Gutenberg and download free books, over 33,000 classics! I’ve read one book on my iPod, The Great Gatsby, and the experience is quite different from reading the real book. I’ve downloaded Proust’s Swann’s Way on the iPhone, but could never get into it. You’re right about the iPhone, it’s just too small for reading.

  13. Elizabeth Gentry

    My SO reads everything on his iPad–recently a Lori Moore novel, the cover article for this month’s Harpers (since I’ve got the mag stuck in my purse to read in down moments at work), articles for class, comic books. He got interested in the iPad b/c he wanted to read in bed at night without keeping me awake, and it’s worked really well for that.

  14. Think that this is all of us accepting the inevitable on one level. And on a better level, recognizing the versatility of the devices. I am not abandoning my print habits, but I do love the versatility, of having even more ways to access books, journals, magazines, newspapers. Have you thought about the iPad? It does so much!

  15. I wonder what reading on an iPhone does to your battery — does it eat up the charge fast?

    I’ll look forward to seeing what you choose, as I think you have a special occasion coming up soon. :) Like Emily, I think I’d like an iPad, but I’m hoping the price will come down soon. The author/speaker at the Jane Austen tea had one and it was pretty cool.

  16. Eva — funny how that has happened to a bunch of us, right? I’m curious how you and others will like NetGalley. I’ve found quite a few things I’m looking forward to reading.

    Litlove — I think that’s the way it will be for me — an e-reader will add to the pleasure I already get in my other ways of reading. I’m just diversifying a little more! But if an e-reader doesn’t appeal, then it makes sense not to get one. I would hate to get one just because everyone else is doing it!

    Annie — interesting story. I wonder if I will soon wonder how I ever made it without an e-reader. We’ll see. I do like the versatility of them, and the ease of carrying them around. I’ve used the Stanza app on my iPhone, and I like it quite a lot.

    Teresa — I saw that you now have an e-reader on the way — I’m curious to see how you like it! I haven’t had a problem with the backlighting on my iPhone, although I do change the color of the background to a light gray, which makes it more pleasant to look at.

    Emily B. — I do plan on staying out of the Apple store :) So you are going to wait for a cheaper iPad rather than getting something now? If an iPad is really what you want, then that makes sense, particularly if you’re not dying for an e-reader right this instant.

    Jenclair — that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? I don’t ever run out of reading material, it seems, but there are other benefits (actually, if I’m out somewhere with extra time, I’ve taken to doing crossword puzzles on my phone, which suits me well, as they are absorbing but require less concentration).

    Steph — I’ve just begun exploring what my library offers. It doesn’t have many ebooks now, but it does have some. I haven’t gotten to downloaded audiobooks yet, but that would be cool. I could put them on my iPhone and listen that way. That would be fun! I won’t be forsaking paper books either, most definitely.

    Lilian — I can see that the way you use an ereader might change over time — beginning just with one type of book and moving on to others. I’m glad you like your Kobo so much. It’s interesting to me that it allows you to read faster. I feel like I’m reading the book on my iPhone quite fast.

  17. Stefanie — I’m definitely interested in reading magazines on an e-reader, although I’m not sure how it works, whether you can get paper and digital both or whether you have to transfer the subscription or get another one. But I’ll figure all that out when the time comes :)

    Sassymonkey — it’s definitely been an education looking into all the types of readers, all the programs, and all the book sites. I’ve learned so much over the last couple weeks!

    Danielle — I think I’ll always love paper books most too; they are so versatile. But it’s interesting how the idea of an e-reader begins to sound attractive. When I do end up getting one, I will have to make sure I don’t start ordering books right and left :) I don’t want to hurt my bank account either. I’m curious to see how my use of them evolves (or doesn’t).

    Arti — I’ve done okay with my iPhone, but I don’t think I could manage Proust on it! I’m guessing that faster, easier books work better that way. It seems wrong to read Proust on an electronic device somehow — the experience surely wouldn’t be as memorable, right?

    Elizabeth — interesting. I regularly keep the light on when Hobgoblin is trying to sleep, so an e-reader would help with that, although he says he doesn’t mind. I’m curious to learn how B. gets all that stuff loaded on the iPad (or it’s just a matter of retrieving things from online?). At this point, I think an iPad is more than I need, but my guess is that Hobgoblin might end up getting one at some point not too far from now.

    Frances — you’re right, I think, that since the number of things you can do with e-readers keeps increasing, and the popularity of them increases, it’s more and more likely we’ll all end up with them. I don’t want to spend the money for an iPad right now, and I’m not sure I need all the capabilities it has. They are pretty amazing, though.

    Debby — it definitely eats up the charge very fast. Fortunately, I’m usually not far from a place to charge it, so it hasn’t been a problem. But an e-reader would probably be much better about battery life. You’re right — I have this feeling that by the end of the month, I’m going to have an e-reader! :)

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