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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My EBook Reader

It was my birthday earlier this month, and my family bought me an ebook reader.

Well strictly speaking they gave me the money to buy it, and let me choose my own preference form the models and makes available.
Almost as silly a name as Kindle

At first the Kindle seemed the best bet, but it's a bloody stupid name, and I'd read that it is difficult to use if you don't wish to buy your ebooks from Amazon. The Nook looked good, but it's not officially available down here in NZ, and the version I wanted (and one that a colleague had sneaked into the country) which could also play MP3s only had a battery life of about 8 hours and used an illuminated LCD screen, which didn't work very well in direct sunlight.

All I really wanted to do was to read books from the device, and an E-Ink based device would let me read, even in bright sunlight for about 2-4 weeks before it needed to be recharged.  Imagine you're on holiday. You can pack all your favourite books into your ebook reader, read them when sitting on the beach or beside the pool, and don't need to worry about running out of power all through your vacation.

So I bought the Kobo Touch.  (Why on Earth do all the manufacturers come up with these stupid names; Nook, Kindle, Kobo?  Why not something more straightforward, like Sony's Reader?)

I love my Kobo. It gives an amazingly sharp display that I can read in most light levels (It does need a light to read in the dark, because the display relies on reflection of ambient light to work) and it's small and light enough so that I can slip it into a jacket pocket and take it wherever I go.

Digital books are generally a lot cheaper than the traditional paper-based books, and they can be purchased on line and very, very quickly.  Plus there are a lot of free digital books out there.  Many of the older classics are out of copyright, and can be obtained from multiple sources.

Many, many books.  Heaven.

One of the features I really like, now that I've been using my Kobo for a couple of weeks is the ability to read multiple books.  I can be reading one book, close it down, switch to a second and a third, re-open the first, and my kobo will remember where I was in that book, and open that page.

I can carry hundreds of books in the machine without even adding any extra memory, and a cheap microSD card will increase the capacity into the thousands.  I can switch to any book, depending on my mood.

YOU want to control ME?

As far as I can see, the only disadvantage to the ebooks is the stupid Digital Rights Management restrictions built into the publications.  If I buy a paper book and enjoy it, I would be able to lend it to a friend to read.  If they enjoyed it, they would probably buy their own copies of that author's other books, so everyone benefits.  But the Digital publishers are scared of illegal copying and distribution, so they try and build in security that stops electronic duplication.

Unfortunately, their methodology also restricts which devices are capable of displaying their books.  Amazon's proprietary book format only works on the Kindle, so theoretically I cannot use it on my Kobo.

But there are methods.  I'm not just a pretty face, I'm a computer teacher.

Let's just say that I can use any ebook from any publisher on my Kobo.  NOBODY tells me what to do with something I've purchased.  I have no intention of releasing these publications onto the WWW.  I respect the author's right to make some money from his work. I might lend it to a couple of friends; they might lend a couple to me, but we'll all be buying more from the author if we like his work.

My favourite software

The only real complaint I have is over the price of most ebooks.

Why, if a large part of the price of a book is the actual physical publication on paper, transportation and storage, does a digital document cost close to the price for a hardcopy one?

Beats the hell out of me.


  1. Thanks for stopping by TSB. My hunsband had a Kindle for Christmas last year, I now call myself a Kindle widow!

    Scotland is great. OK it rains, A LOT, but a stout tartan brolly is taking care of that. Am I not making you feel a little homesick. We are thinking of moving here.

    Then again, cold is nothing when you have lived in the Rockies for 8 years. The only thing, the roads are narrow and winding and there are not many corner shops where we are. I would have to learn the art of bread making, gathering eggs and milking!

    Enjoy my trip, Fort William today methinks!

  2. I'm not saying I'll never get one but I really don't feel the urge at the moment. I like my books. I like my wee library created in one of our spare bedroom as a sanctuary/office/hidey-hole for me and I like browsing bookshops - even looking at thousands of books I might never buy.

    I really like the smell of some of the old antique and second-hand bookshops where the scent of paper pervades the place and the heft of a book in my hand. Sure they can be a bit cumbersome at times but I quite like that too - you have to choose carefully and really want to read a book to lug it on holiday , not flit backwards and forwards between five or so of the blighters on any one day.

    I can see some of the advantages of e-readers but I like what I have at the moment.

    I won't say never, but it'll be a while - if ever....

    I hope you enjoy yours though - and well done on overcoming the brand specific software. I bet you're a handy man to know....

  3. Dildo harbor? LOL!
    I'm on the fence about getting an e reader, but I'm glad you're enjoying yours.

  4. YONKS: Nice to hear from you. My Beloved helped to buy my Kobo, and if she's unhappy about it, she's keeping quiet.

    Yes, I do miss Scotland sometimes. I miss the people, the food, but not the weather or the midges. Have you discoverd the midges yet?
    They're not usually active in winter, but in summer they can drive you insane, especially around Crianlarich, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

    Enjoy Fort Wiliam, but actually there's not a lot to see. Have you been to Castle Urquhart yet? It's just up the road from Fort William,and one of the most beautiful castles and settings in Scotland.

    Enjoy your trip.

    Alistair: I too enjoy the feel and smell of old books and often scour through the shelves for forgotten authors, but I do like the convenience of the kobo.
    One major disadvantage however, which is not in the literature, is the difficulty of using a touch-based control system when you're eating fish and chips. The greasy marks left by your fingers can be really annoying. This didn't happen with paper books, as they quite happily absorbed all the grease, even making it easier to turn pages.

    Patience_Crabstick: I swithered for months before taking the plunge, but now think it's worth it.

  5. Christ, I hope I've made the right choice buying my Girlfriend a Kindle for Christmas. I was calling the fucking thing a Kimble for ages. Kimble is the character Arnie plays in Kindergarten Cop.

  6. You will get lots of good use out of your Kindle. It will help you pass the time at PD mornings in a discreet way perhaps?

    Good to know youre keeping up withthe latest technology.

  7. E Readers are the only future as publishers are headed for extinction and prices will come relentlessly down on e-books.

  8. Mike: The Kibble thing is actually very good. It displays the text very clearly, has a good battery life and is well made. The only downside is the slightly smaller screen and the almost completely locked down relationship with Amazon ebooks. Isn't Dr. Richard Kimble also the bloke in "The Fugitive"?

    VG: I don't have a Kindle, I've got a Kobo. As regards the furtive reading in PD; do you have some sort of spy system?. Basket Man gave a 40 minute presentation on the use of voice last week, and the Kobo, hidden craftily behind a copy of the Education Gazette helped keep me sane. The only difficulty was that I was reading a very, very funny scene, and it was difficult (but not impossible) to stop from laughing out loud.

    Laoch of Chicago; Maybe, at least in their current form. There will always be a need for some sort of editing and publishing system, but not as we currently know it.

  9. The don't appeal to be honest. I can see that they might have a few practical advantages, but I've never felt that the weight of books I've taken on holiday has been a problem.

    I also like the physical feel, appearance and smell of books. I recently got a late 40s edition of a work by Marx and I love just handling it.

    Whereas Dildo harbour also looks like it could do with a bit of sensitive handling to improve that very flaccid harbour wall.

  10. looby: They never really appealed to me either, as I too have a love of books, but it was the cost of books down here in NZ which was one of the main factors. As far as weight goes, last time we went to Singapore I took along about 10 books (I'm a very fast reader) and our luggage went over the limit. My Beloved was not amused.

    It'slovely to have a really old classic. Which one was it? Groucho or Chico?

    Yes the harbour looks a bit quiet. Maybe they should offer trips to look at the batteries?

  11. Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful. Social science Ebooks


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