eReaders & eBooks

Overview | Links | Jargon |

OvervieweReader - your portable library

Okay there is a plethora of eReaders continuously hitting the market and of course they all offer a variety of features, some of which I put in the gadget category. However, they would appear to be here to stay - according to Amazon the Kindle was the most "gifted christmas item" in the online superstore's history in 2011. Don't get me wrong I am not anti e-books and the benefit is the ease of access to the huge collection of classic books that are now available for free and surely opening up a huge new market to readers, not to mention the environmental cost. The Age has put together a good article about the benefits of the main players to the market - Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and the Sony Reader. However, if you are like me and can't believe how an ebook is the same price as a regular book - well you aren't alone and the US department of justice is coming down heavy with some publishers settling out of court the some of the big players - Penguin, Macmillan and Apple going to trial next June. Read more at The Guardian.

Kindle Fire Kindle 4 Sony Reader Nook Color Kobo eReader iRiver Bookeen

Now some comments on the Apple iPad. Recently succumbing and buying one for my partner as I was sick of him borrowing my Kindle or trying to read on his iPhone. We installed the iPad Kindle App and within minutes he was reading the books that I had bought him for my Kindle. It was easy and now they are synced through the Cloud. However, I am surprised by the weight and the poor battery life - well compared to the Kindle anyway. I don't think this is for the heavy reader that wants doesn't want to be tied to an electricity socket. If you are a serious reader then a lighter more specific eReader with a much longer battery life is the best option which also allows you to download different book formats and the price of ebooks can be significantly cheaper than the iPad iBook store. Of course when you buy an iPad it isn't just to read books, you have the ability for accessing hundreds (probably millions by now) apps and features. There is also the ability to download the Kindle app for the iPad which allows you to access Amazon and substantially increase the number of books available to it.

Waterstones has signed a commercial agreement with Amazon to launch new "e-reading services and offer Kindle digital devices" through its UK shops. Details of the deal, and how it will work in practice, have not been revealed. The announcement is huge surprise, as the chain had been thought to be negotiating with US bookseller Barnes & Noble over using its Nook device. Click here to read more about this very interesting venture which sees Waterstones sell Kindle books and Kindle e-books in physical shops.

Pre-orders for the new Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets were far higher than any other device introductions and were running 240% higher than previous Nook launches. Helping to fuel sales will be the devices availability not only at Barnes & Noble stores, but in Target and Wal mart none of which will be stocking Kindle devices. The Nook Bookstore to be available in 10 countries by June of 2013.

Interestingly the growth of eReaders has been an almost phenomenal growth in data being captured about private reading habits. That information belongs to the companies that sell e-readers, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble and they can share — or sell — that information if they like. The data is also, of course, a brilliant marketing tool. Best-selling author Scott Turow says e-readers can collect a lot of information about their owners. "You can tell everything about how somebody reads a book," says Turow, "whether they are the kind that skips to the end, how fast they read, what they skip ... So [data from e-readers] can give the author specific feedback. You know, '35 percent of the people who bought this book quit after the first two chapters."

Still aren't sure if an eReader is right for you or even which one, some local libraries now have them for trial.

Yes Kindles, Kobos and iPads are popular e-book reading devices and yes Amazon is cheap, but there is more to the world of books and the world of publishing that we will be losing if our literary landscape diminishes. What happened to the experience of words, the feel of a book, and what is wrong with having a local bookshop? Or a library for that matter? Urgh.

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Jargon Demystified

You can't escape it, there is jargon everywhere and eReaders only add to the confusion, so I have put together a list of what I found was useful:-

DRM (Digital Rights Management): It is a lock publishers put on ebooks to prevent piracy. You buy the ebook, only your registered ereader can open it. Most major publishers release ebooks with DRM, and most formats we’re concerned with are DRM formats (most ereaders support most non-DRM formats). Generally, only one kind of DRM is allowed on any given device. There are some good programs out there to help you organize and load your non-DRM ebooks. This also means you can't lend your friends your ebooks.

Adobe ePub and PDF: Recently, ePub has become the major non-Amazon DRM format. You can get library ebooks in ePub, and a wide variety of ereaders support it. Most ePub-compatible ereaders also support PDF. If you have a choice, get ePub; PDF is a visual format, not a text- based format, so it often has problems when you zoom in. Warning: Some ebookstores are now selling “ePubs” locked with their own proprietary DRM, which is not Adobe DRM. Notably, Apple’s iBookstore sells “ePubs,” but those books will not work with any device other than the iPad. Be aware that “ePub” no longer necessarily means an open format that will work across devices.

Mobipocket (or mobi): Used to be a widely prevalent format, but has been overtaken by ePub, and now mobi’s on its way out. Get an ereader with ePub support instead.

Amazon Kindle format: This is a specialized brand of mobi that only Kindles and the Kindle iPhone app can read. Because this format locks you into a single device (and because you can’t get library books on a Kindle), it is recommended that you get an ePub-compatible ereader and not a Kindle. Hopefully, Amazon will wise up sooner or later, and make the Kindle compatible with ePub, but don’t hold your breath. However, as the market leader there is obviously a way to get around propriety issues.

Other: Non-DRM formats like .doc and .rtf and .txt are supported by most ereaders. If you need an arcane format this is it.

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The following websites also have some good information as a starting point:-

eBook Reader Reviews. A comparison and review of the main eBook Readers for 2012.

E-Readers. Reviews of Kindle, Nook and other E-Readers

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