Saturday, July 17, 2010

My eBooks Have FOUND A HOME! And Roommates. Lots of Roommates.

For awhile now, I've been thinking about getting an eReader.  I don't travel all that often, maybe twice a year, but, whenever I do hit the road (or the skies, as the case may be), I tend to bring a lot of books along.  Last October, when I flew across the country to spend a week with my little sis in North Carolina, I packed seven books, and it wasn't enough!  I had to borrow a couple from her, which could have been a problem, because she buys the books of one author almost exclusively.  Good thing I like Stephen King. 

Seven books ~ even paperbacks ~ take up a lot of real estate in a suitcase, which I usually stuff to capacity with clothes and shoes, plus lotions and hair product and facial cleansers and the like.  (Because you can't buy that kind of stuff in North Carolina or New York City.  Right.)  And my carryon is always filled with camera and lenses and laptop.  Anyway, it occurred to me that an eReader would solve the problem of carrying around so many books, but the question then became: which eReader?  So I did an in-depth study of the three main eReaders on the market today, as well as a few that are not so well-known, and distilled the information down to what is important to me.

The Kindle2, with its 6" eInk screen, allows you to buy books from from anywhere in the world using wifi or 3G, or by downloading to a computer and then sideloading to the Kindle.  (This is important to me because I'm considering moving to a small Central American country so I can afford to retire in a year or so.)  Another nice feature is that you can use it sideways, in landscape mode.  You can't, however, borrow eBooks from the library, which is an issue for me.

The Nook, in addition to being prettier than the Kindle and sporting that fun little color touch screen below the 6" reading screen, allows you to read library eBooks on it.  It's also less expensive than Kindle, if you buy the one with wifi only at $149 ($50 more if you want wifi + 3G), but you can't buy books from Barnes and Noble unless you are actually physically located within the U.S. (or Canada and a few U.S. territories, like Puerto Rico). Also, it doesn't have landscape mode.

The newest 6" Sony Touch doesn't have wifi or 3G.  It also costs more than the least expensive Nook.  The Touch, however, does allow you to read library eBooks on it, and in landscape mode.  It also comes with a stylus (!) with which you can handwrite notes and highlight stuff, plus you can turn the pages with either a button or by swiping the screen with your finger (it has a touch screen).  And you can get it with black borders, which is easier on my eyes and less distracting than white.  But I've heard that the screen has a bit of a glare, which doesn't work well in certaint kinds of light.

All these things I learned online.  Now it was time to try them out IRL (in real life).

I went to B and N to check out the Nook.  I handled it, fiddled with the controls, changed the font sizes and read a few pages of some books on it.  It was pretty, felt solid, and I really liked reading on it.

Then I went to Target and looked at the Kindle2, which was about all I could do with it because it wasn't hooked up.  Physically, it wasn't quite as pretty ~ the white plastic borders around the reading screen were wider, and there was that awkward button keyboard below it, plus it felt lighter and somehow flimsier. 

I didn't get to a Sony store to check out the Touch.  I couldn't find it, even though I used a map, because I got lost in the black hole of a mall parking structure.  It was a nightmarish ten minutes until I found the exit and escaped.

I went home and, for another week, agonized over which eReader to get.  Then one night last week, while I was sound asleep, I had a very realistic dream in which I was agonizing over which eReader to buy.  I woke in the morning tired, with a bit of a headache, and with the certain knowledge that I better stop shilly-shallying and just buy one of the dratted things before I drove myself crazy(er).

So I did a tad bit more online research and, last Saturday, went to a different Target and again looked at the Kindle2.  This time, it was hooked up to play a demo, so I was able to see the font sizes, landscape mode, how the text looked, as well as hold it in my hands.  I dithered for a little while, walked around the electronics department to think about it, then told myself it would be the perfect birthday present to myself.  When I learned that Target has a 90-day return policy with no restocking charge on the Kindle, that clinched it.  I bought it, figuring I could return it after using it for awhile, if it turned out I hated it. 
Well, I got it home, charged it, and have hardly put it down ever since except to work and sleep and shower and other things that involve water like washing dishes and brushing my teeth.*  I love it.  I love having dozens of books at my fingertips.  I love the lightness of holding it in bed at night and reading.  I love that I can change the font size depending on how tired my eyes are.  I love the ease with which I can get books on it.
I've loaded it with some free books, like Les Miserables, Great Expectations, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, She by H. Rider Haggard, classics I've been meaning to read for a long time, as well as contemporary novels like The Heir by Paul Robertson, Irresistible Forces by Brenda Jackson, and Vigilante by Claude Boucher, that I thought I'd try out, not having read anything by those authors before.  I've purchased three eBooks from  Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn, Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, and the process was quick and easy.  (Too easy: twice I found I had purchased eBooks that I hadn't intended to buy. Luckily, I was able to reverse the purchases right away.)   I also loaded it with free "samples" of books from that I think I might want to read:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Dead in the Family, the new Sookie Stackhouse novel, and World War Z by Max Brooks, among others.

I do mind not being able to download and read library eBooks on it, because even as rich as I am (haha, that was a joke), I can't afford to buy every book I want to read, but for now I've got enough eBooks to last awhile.  We'll see whether, in a month or two, it becomes a major issue.  After all, I can always trade in the Kindle and buy the Nook or Sony Touch for myself, or maybe even keep the Kindle and also buy the other as an early Christmas present for myself.

*  *  *

*You may wonder why I didn't mention not being able to read on the Kindle when driving.  That is because the Kindle will read the eBook to you!  Granted, the voice is mechanical and sometimes pronounces words in a distinctly weird way, and it will never beat a really well-read audiobook (which can be played on the Kindle, as well as both the Nook and the Touch), but it's great if you're right in the middle of a juicy part and have to hop in the car to run a quick errand.  Just click on the "Text-to-Speech" feature and listen while you drive.  Then when you get back from your errand, you can continue reading from where the voice left off.  So far I haven't used that feature, but I think it's pretty cool.


Myckyee said...

Congratulations on your new e-reader!

Hilde said...

Yay for your new Kindle! I've been wanting an e-reader for a while, but like you I found it very hard to decide which one to get. I was leaning more and more towards the Kindle, but was afraid to commit. Finally I said to myself "just buy the damned thing already!", so today I gave in and ordered one. It should get here just in time for my birthday. A big plus is that the Wi-Fi works in Norway, which is where I am. Glad you like your new gadget - may it bring you many hours of reading pleasure!