Friday, August 19, 2011

eReader recommendations?

My mum is about to go overseas and has been persuaded by friends that buying an ereader would be a good thing. I've never met anyone who owns an ereader who didn't find it indispensable, which means of course that eventually I'm going to have to get with the times and buy one myself.

There are loads of models around now, mostly around the $200 price range. I think my mum will end up with a Kindle but it seems to have just too many buttons and functions for my liking. I want an ereader that does what a book does: displays words on a page. The most popular options in Australia are the Sony Reader and the Kobo Wireless, about which I know nothing except that they seem to be very hard to come by. Either unavailable or sold out almost everywhere online that I've looked. (Hello, eBay.) And that both come in pretty colors (as well as more serious tones).

That's it, the sum total of my knowledge. I'm leaning toward the Sony Reader Pocket Edition (oh! but the Kobo has has a quilted back!), while simultaneously trying to imagine my life with bookshelves that no longer need to expand.



Ender Chadwick said...

I own a Kindle and I have friends with both Sony models and nook's (not sure if you have nooks over there).

As much as I like many Sony products, I've heard their ereader is difficult and overly complicated when it comes to transferring files and whatnot.

Amazon claims the Kindle 3 has the best contrast and seeing them side by side with my friends ereaders I believe them.

Although I recommend the Kindle, whichever brand you choose, I would definitely suggest you steer away from any type of touch-screen or back lighting since you want it primarily for reading. These things add glare and really deter from the overall experience of just relaxing with a good story.

BriteLady said...

I have a Sony Reader Touch, about 2 years old (not the wi-fi version, which costs more $). For buying books, I do have to hook it up to the computer. That is its only drawback because it takes me longer to go shop for something new to read (and also a plus, since I'm less likely to run up a big credit card bill with impulse purchases).

The software that comes with it is fine, though I also downloaded the freeware Calibre program which is really helpful at making plain .pdf files read better on the smaller screen (and can change file formats and do some other nifty tricks like download .rss feeds as e-books to read off line).

My Sony has a stylus that you can use to highlight and make free-hand notes on things (there is also a way to pop up an on-screen keyboard to type things in). For re-reading my own writing its better than my laptop because I can scribble and circle things like I would on printed paper. The downside to that feature is that you can't really transfer all the markings back to the computer (well, you can, but it takes a 1mb .rtf file and makes it into a 30mb download). It does save me paper on revising.

I have the various reader apps on my Android phone as well (Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Google), but I can't read for too long on that screen. I'm a software engineer and after a day spent in front of 3 monitors writing code, my eyes appreciate a break from all that bright light. The e-ink screens are, as the ads promise, as good as paper in that way.

Have fun deciding!

Sara Creasy said...

Thanks for the comments and reviews. Do any of these readers read Word files? (Just in case I want to read manuscripts.) The Kindle does, I think?

Ender Chadwick said...

The Kindle doesn't read .doc files directly but you can email them to your Kindle account and they will do the conversion for you and send it on through. You can do this for free, in which case you hook up a cable to your PC, or have it sent wirelessly to your Kindle for a small fee. Really small, I think it's less than 0.10 USD.

That process takes a total of about 3-5 minutes. I do this to proof-read my manuscripts.

Ender Chadwick said...

Oh and once you do that you can have the Kindle read your manuscripts to you aloud.

It's that terrible, clipped synthetic sound but it helps me spot errors. Plus I can pretend it's an audiobook version of my book with Stephen Hawking doing the reading, and come on, how cool would it be to have Stephen Hawking do a reading of Science Fiction?

Sara Creasy said...

Very cool indeed. (Now I can't get that idea out of my mind!)

Keith Stevenson said...

It has to be kindle. I love my kindle and I can load my mss on as long as I save them as txt files. Also the kindle file extension .azw is really just a .mobi file so if you have non-DRMd epubs or whatever you can use Calibre to convert them to mobi and read them on your kindle. Plus I know they are an evil publishing empire, but Amazon has the best stock of ebooks bar none.

Sara Creasy said...

I've been trying out the free Kindle for PC software - so far so good.

WorderfulReno said...

This may be a *little* late, but I own a Sony PRS-650 and I wouldn't trade it for all the Kindles, Nooks and Kobos in the world. It reads doc, docx, pdfs, the transfer's lighting fast and you can also take notes/make edits with the stylus on a manuscript.

But I have heard rumours of a new generation of ereaders from Sony so that's something to keep in mind (and probably why they're hard to find and out of stock now).

Sara Creasy said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Andra. I probably won't buy one until Christmas so I'm open to suggestions until then. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for anything new on the market, even if it's only to pick up a bargain on an older model.

Contextel said...

Hi Sara
My daughter saw your post and forwarded to me.
I work, talk, think, dream about ebooks. I run the company Riidoo in Sweden ( There's a brief english note on the website about our doings. Our main activities are around distribution systems for ebooks so we are independant of where the ebooks are being read. Iphone, Ipad, Kindle, Sony, PC, whatever. But we have tried out quite a few of the dedicated ereaders and we also sell one brand, the french Bookeen-Cybook with models Opus (standalone) and Orizon (wifi). The Opus is the best selling one because it's neat, have nice colours, nice design and easy to use. No bells and whistles. The Orizon is more sober and businesslike and also provides touch. Bookeen will launch a new wifi-touch device soon and I can update as soon as we have more advanced info. Amazon-Kindle rules the market in many ways. Perfect eco-system with directaccess to enormous ebookstore. But it's locked to Amazon-titles unless you are a tech-nerd that enjoy conversion excercises. Sony PRS-T1 is a coming device, launched already in limited volumes in Asia. We will probably sell it also if larger customers will request it. Kobo is good, if you find one it's probably a good buy. I can keep you updated if you are interested. Post me a mail on By the way, I love Australia. Lived in Adelaide for 2 years back in the 90:ies.
Anders Borgström, Malmö, Sweden.

deadgloves said...

Sara, I own a Sony 650 and love it but there are two main draw backs.
1. Often the best place to buy books is Amazon. That means conversion.
2. Its own store and computer software stink. (Calibre solves that for any e-reader.)

Wifi isn't something I feel I miss and plugging it in to charge and upload books isn't a big deal. It's the touch screen, physical device, and gui that I love.

But Amazon wins. They control the market and their newest models copy most of what made the 650 special. Unless you like to fiddle, that is the one to buy this Christmas. Just watch out for the one with Ads.

If you really want information on eReaders there is only one place to go; The MobileRead forums are full of eReader geeks and they have a quality selection of public domain books there too.

Sara Creasy said...

Thanks for your advice - I am still looking into this but Christmas is fast approaching so I need to make up my mind.

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