Choosing the right e-reader
Picking out the right book for a trip, either across the globe or back and forth to work every day, is usually a matter of portability. No matter how tantalizing the story may be, an epic, 3000 page book weighing in over 4 pounds is not coming on the journey with you. And there’s the challenge of choosing a travel book that won’t take a turn for the terrible after the first few chapters. Unless you have a book caddy or pack mule, you have to take your chance with one book and leave the rest behind. Luckily, there’s a technological solution to your reading dilemma: e-readers.
An e-reader is a small, electronic device that is designed to display digital copies of books and give you the simulated experience of reading, without the physical book in your hands. Most e-readers are about the same length and height as a hardcover novel, but dramatically thinner, and they weigh less than a can of pop. The earliest versions of the e-readers were very limited in what they could do, but as each new generation of e-reader has been manufactured, more features and capabilities have been added to them.
The most popular e-readers are sold by companies who also sell e-books, like Amazon and their Kindle, and Chapters with their Kobo. The integration with their existing online e-book stores makes the purchasing process very easy (as long as you’re buying from them). Most of the complications that used to arise when buying from another store have been eliminated, but you’ll still occasionally run into a strange behaviour or two when buying from the competition. Both the Kindle Touch & the Kobo Touch sell for $139.
Sony has also sold a line of e-readers in the past that have been generally well received, and now they’ve focused on one model, the Reader Digital Book. Like most Sony products, it’s well made and the hardware is very durable, but their software takes some getting used to. Sony has launched their own ebook store, but the number of titles available is considerably less than the other two providers. The Reader sells for $169.
Though not an e-reader in the strictest sense, the Apple iPad is also a very popular choice for people looking to read e-books. While the other e-readers have all added additional features like web browsing and limited application usage, they really can’t match the iPad in terms of sheer functionality. The very obvious disadvantage to using the iPad as an e-reader is the display screen. The iPad’s LCD screen is almost entirely illegible when looked at in direct sunlight, so doing some light reading outside becomes a chore. The other e-readers all use a technology called e-ink, which allows them to clearly display readable text in bright, direct sunlight. So if you planned to read that new bestseller while sunning yourself on the beach, the iPad is going to spoil that plan. Another minor drawback is the weight of the iPad: it’s about three times as heavy as the other e-readers, and that can add stress and fatigue to your hands during a bout of extended reading. And, of course, the price is dramatically higher at $519, but it can take photos, record videos, do video-chatting, play games, and more.
All of the devices listed above are compatible with the e-book lending service used by the Thunder Bay Public Library, which is welcome news for anyone on a budget. The retail price for new bestseller e-books can range from $5 to $15, surprisingly expensive for an electronic copy. Be prepared for a slight technical challenge when first configuring your e-reader to work with library e-books.
The digital copy protection that the publishers require of the library can take some effort to fully install and get working, but thankfully, the library staff can ably assist you. And, even though it is a digital copy, it still has an expiry date (once again, due to the publisher’s restrictions) so after the due date passes, you won’t be able to read the e-book.