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October 25th, 2010


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11:41 am - Choosing an e-reader
I'm thinking of asking Santa for an e-reader this Christmas. altariel showed me what the new Amazon Kindle looks like, and my friend at work kindly brought in her Sony e-reader and talked me through the features. I must say they are both in the zone for usability and price, and I'd be happy with either.

Some thoughts on differences: the Kindle seems to have a greater range of functions, while I thought the e-reader was lighter and crisper in design. I think the Kindle wins out for range and cost of readable books available, and convenience to buy and get, though that's really a marginal difference as neither are bad. Kindle also allows you to browse the Internet, and Sony doesn't. However, am I right that Kindle is more tightly linked to a single supplier, which seems risky? The Sony e-reader has plug-in tiny memory card things, to extend what you can store. I think both read PDF, but Sony can also read Word files. My friend at work has young-onset-arthritis (and likes massive fantasy novels) and the lighter weight of the Sony e-reader is a significant issue for her, though neither device is really 'heavy'. The i-Pad is out of consideration for me because of cost.

Here is a discussion of the current e-reader options, updated Sept 2010.

I would be grateful for any advice, experiences or opinions you might have.

(Another issue is that devices are always getting better, this is one reason I like being a late adopter. However, there comes a time when you have to jump in.)

(28 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:kalypso_v
Date:October 25th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
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Can't remember which she's got, but I'm sure julesjones will have useful advice.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:13 am (UTC)
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aha - jules if you are reading this phone home please comment

What's the situaiton with downloading fanfiction I wonder? Not that I read fanfiction.

Edited at 2010-10-25 11:13 am (UTC)
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
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can you pass or sell your e-text books on, which is something students always want to do
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
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I don't think reselling is well supported in e-books.

I didn't sell my philosophy books either, but then they are interesting in their own right I think. Guess that's why I did the subject.
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From:trixieleitz
Date:October 25th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
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I came across this epub creator the other day - I've only had a brief play with it, but it looks promising.
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From:communicator
Date:October 26th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
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Oh thank you, that's great, I can see me building up a library of posts on, er, certain subjects
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From:trixieleitz
Date:October 26th, 2010 06:47 am (UTC)
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You're welcome ;)

My own need for an ebook reader is slightly less intense now that I have the iPhone and GoodReader, but it would still be nice to have something closer to book-sized that I could read and annotate academic papers on. Maybe when I'm filthy rich.
From:abigail_n
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
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Can't offer any advice because I'm on the verge of taking the plunge myself, but I think I'm going to go for the Kindle. The iPad is, as you say, too expensive (also still in its 1.0 version), and I haven't had much exposure to the Sony reader (I'm not sure it's even sold in Israel). Plus, I feel a certain amount of loyalty towards Amazon, which opened my reading world and changed my life at a time when the selection of books available to me was very narrow. I already buy most of my books from them, so being limited to their story won't change things much, and not paying for shipping will mean that a reader might quickly pay for itself.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
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Actually I feel the same loyalty to Amazon, though I am sure there are many reasons to be wary of it.On the other hand I don't want my local Waterstones to disappear, so perhaps I should support it.

There's also the option (with both readers) to download old texts which are out of copyright. I am always wanting to read something of that kind, and having to pay for a paper version or struggling to read it via Gutenburg. This is what has pushed me into wanting one.
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From:spacefall
Date:October 25th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Talking of out of copyright, there's a really handy Kindle file that lists all the stuff on Gutenberg. You open it as a book, search for the title you want, then click the link to download the book straight to the reader. Really handy.

http://freekindlebooks.org/MagicCatalog/magiccatalog.html
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From:andrewducker
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC)
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I feel the same way you do about the single-supplier problem with the Kindle. It makes me nervous.
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From:mraltariel
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
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There isn't really a single supplier problem, though. I buy books from several different stores and read them on my Kindle (generally in the kindle's own .mobi format).

It is just *easiest* to buy them from the Kindle store itself.
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From:andrewducker
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
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Aah, you're right. Kindle support .mobi nowadays. Any idea if it works with ones with drm?
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From:mraltariel
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
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I don't know, actually. I've only bought 3rd party non-DRMed stuff (from O'Reilly amongst others)
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From:spacefall
Date:October 25th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
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I think .mobi+DRM is still officially unsupported (which is stupid, but then so is most DRM.)

There is a script that will generate a PID from the Kindle's serial number that can be entered when buying 'secure' .mobi, but I think that a few sellers won't accept it. I haven't tried this, so no idea whether it works on the new Kindles.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
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Oh, right, I must say it's looking more and more the right bet
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From:mraltariel
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
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The weight thing might be a bit of a red herring. The Sony eReader is 286g, the Kindle 290g. The perceived difference is probably the massive leather cases we put ours in, which weighs about 300g.

You can get a gel slipcase which weighs next-to-nothing for either.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC)
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I didn't really notice any weight difference myself, but my friend is very sensitive to it. But I bet that's ebcause of the cover as you say.
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From:spacefall
Date:October 25th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Whatever you get, you might want to grab Calibre to manage and convert your (non-DRM) ebook files, documents, etc. It's still in progress, but it's a gem of a free app. I recommend mucking around with it to see if it would solve some of your format dilemmas.
http://calibre-ebook.com/

Also, MobileRead forums are a really good place for finding helpful info, hand-formatted classics, and lots of feedback on the various e-readers.
http://www.mobileread.com/

As for choices...I'm very happy with my Kindle *cuddles*, but in the end it comes down to the ebook formats you're likely to use and buy. Many shops sell books as epub plus DRM, and while I understand that there's a python app that can strip the DRM from these files, it could be a pain on the Kindle if you expect to be using 90% DRM epub books. Same problem in reverse for Amazon AZWs on Sony. Basically DRM sucks, but both Amazon and Adobe are set on it.

As for myself, I usually read DRM-free pdf docs and out-of-copyright books (http://openlibrary.org/ and the rest cover most formats), so shop choice isn't a big issue for me. Both readers have PDF support. As I understand it, Sony's Adobe reader will attempt PDF re-flow (which sometimes works), while the Kindle won't. On my Kindle, I read PDFs in landscape mode if they suit, or run them through Calibre or Mobipocket if they don't (you can also email them to @free.kindle.com for free conversion.) PDF reflow on the device is probably a very nice feature when it works, which is not all the time due to the nature of PDFs. With either device there is some amount of compromise when reading A4 pdfs on a small screen, which I'd call acceptable for a device that's a lot cheaper than the large-screen Kindle DX! I like the idea of reflow on the device, but eventually went for the Kindle for its other features, as the Kindle's plain PDF reader with contrast-enhancement is really quite good.

The web browser in the Kindle is very handy, and I was surprised at how usable it is on an e-ink device. I have the Wifi + 3g Kindle, so I can spam Livejournal and Yahoo Messenger from a variety of locations :p Article mode re-flows websites for easy reading, and is particularly good for reading fanfic. One slight disappointment: I'm a bit miffed that ArchiveOfOurOwn handles its .mobi downloads differently to Project Gutenberg and other sites, so while you can read the stories as normal you can't save .mobi files of the fic straight to the kindle. I hope that changes in future, as it would pretty much be fanfic heaven ;) The browser can't cope with all pages (pop-ups and flash are obvious enemies) so mobile-friendly sites are often useful -- I use the mobile version of Yahoo Messenger and Livejournal.

Erm, so in conclusion, e-ink is good, e-readers are good, Kindle's web doodad is good, words are good. Oh yes, and many ebook covers are a rip-off, but you can make quite a good one out of cardboard and a bit of gaffer tape ;D
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
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Wow, thanks for this. I have shared your links with my friend too. I will suggest the cover idea to Blue Peter
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From:spacefall
Date:October 25th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
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I totally used sticky back plastic.
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From:dremiel
Date:October 25th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
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I have had a second ed. Kindle since March of 2009 and I love it! I have loaded books, files, documents from every place imaginable. We are now a three Kindle family as Sib3 just got himself a NEW Kindle and gave his year old one to The Boy so I particularly like the Amazon feature that lets your share books across any Kindle linked to the same account. We can all have copies but, of course, each Kindle syncs to it's own spot in the book.

I can't speak comparatively but the weight is negligible, certainly less than a hardcover, and I carry it in my purse all the time.

I like the design changes in the new Kindle and the e-ink is even crisper and darker.

We joke that the biggest drawback is how easy it is to buy books! More than once I have listened to a book review or an interview with an author on the the radio and purchased the book before the segment is over!

I still buy books and I still check books out of the library but if something happened to my Kindle I would replace it without hesitation.
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From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
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I absolutely nkow I will impulse buy. I am worried that I will spend even more than I do now on books. On th eplus side - H won't know I'm doing it bwa-ha-ha
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From:muuranker
Date:October 25th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
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Surrey Libraries now loan e-books.

[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 25th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
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Now that is a good service

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