Sunday, January 16, 2011

Additional Thoughts on e-Readers, or, Why I Broke Down and Got a Kindle

Several months ago I wrote a blog post on problems I see with the current e-Reader offerings and why I wouldn't buy one. Since then, however, I have changed my mind, and I wanted to explain why.

The main reasons are:
  • It's useful for traveling: you don't need to lug several heavy books with you on long trips, you only need your e-Reader loaded with whatever e-Books you want to read. You can also put guide books on an e-Reader and after trying it out, the maps are quite readable. Finding English-language books can also be difficult when traveling.
  • The price has come down a lot: at the current Kindle WIFI-only price, I can use it for a few years and not worry if a newer version comes out that has colour or has other improved features.
  • Reading free books is now easier: there are hacks now for several systems so ePub and other free books can be read on many devices. There are now many more options for reading books for free, which was a big complaint of mine in the past.
It all started with my recent trip to Japan. Once I finished packing my bags, I realized I couldn't find my book anywhere. At the airport, I couldn't find any novels I really wanted to read, so I went without. I was annoyed because my book was a page-turner, and I didn't want to buy another copy of it just for this trip. While in Japan, I didn't bother looking for books because I already knew that English language books are expensive and the selection can be pretty limited.

Throughout the trip, I saw people reading eBooks, which I have to admit made me a little jealous. In addition, my guide book, although highly informative and very useful for finding out-of-the-way restaurants and temples, was very heavy. Carrying it in my purse along with my SLR and a few lenses was weighing me down. I thought about how handy it would be to have an e-version that I could whip out, check a map on, and then fit back in my purse at a fraction of the weight, while at the same time also carrying novels for reading on long train trips.

Finally, when I got back, someone showed me a Nook that had been hacked to access the underlying Android operating system, which could then be used for browsing the web and using the Android Kindle app to read books. After doing some research I read how several people had hacked the Kindle to read ePub books (the free format that most libraries use). After trying it out in the store, I decided to go with Kindle since it's cheaper and I find the interface, interaction, and responsiveness much better than that of the Nook's. It's arriving later this week, and I'm looking forward to writing about my experience with it here!

Do you have a Kindle, Nook, or other eReader? What made you decide to get one and how are you liking it so far? Do you find you read more or less than before?

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