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Author Topic: Some initial reflections on using an ebook reader  (Read 8933 times)
mouser
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« on: July 15, 2010, 07:09:36 PM »

I was recently gifted a new kindle dx and thought it might be useful to report my initial thoughts for others considering jumping into buying an ebook reader.

This will be really quick, just some fast thoughts while they are fresh in my mind.

First, I underestimated how enjoyable it would be to read a normally-paperback fiction book on it.  I normally read large format academic/reference books and papers, and rarely fiction, but decided to read a free version of Moby Dick (Herman Mellville) on the kindle, and it is extremely satisfying.

I think there are several reasons it's satisfying; the fiction format is very well suited to an ebook reader.  the screen is larger than a normal paperback, and the fact that one reads such books linearly, page after page, makes the page turning speed 100% satisfactory.  (this isn't the case when you want to quickly flip through a reference book).

The weight of the thing makes it fun to carry around the house and read in different rooms, and the e-ink is indeed much more comfortable to my eyes than an lcd screen ever is, and there is real advantage to there being no viewing-angle issues.

Compared to reading a book -- one thing i didn't realize is how much of an advantage it is that the ebook reader doesn't have the problems that books have of not saying folded open, and having to hold them open.  the flat 2 dimensional slate feel of an ebook reader is actually a really nice thing.  as much as i appreciate the physicality of a book -- there is some real advantage to the physical size and shape of an ebook reader from a functional standpoint.  i'm surprised how pleasant it is to lay the book reader down flat on a table or on my lap or hold it with one hand while reading.

I never have a physical bookmark when i need one; having the ebook reader remember where i left off is nice.

Areas where i find the ebook reader less satisfactory:

Reference books and papers: it's very hard to capture the feel and experience you get from being able to really quickly flip through, scan, and browse such documents and can feel claustrophic and very limiting trying to do here.

There is something very attractive about being able to carry one device with hundreds or even thousands of books on it.  however my initial experience has been that i'm not finding myself reading the same way i listen to music, wanting to have a hundred choices on hand at any given moment.  instead reading seems more likely to be a matter of having one or two items at a time that one is focusing on.  so this is not such a big deal.

If you love reading classic older literature, that is now in the public domain -- I think you need to get yourself an ebook reader; it's PERFECT for this, the books are free and readily available, and the reading experience is ideal.

In fact i'll go further: if you have a child you want to expose to fine literature, a wonderful gift might be to get one of these now cheap kindles, and fill it with public domain literature classics.  And it's one of the few technological devices that can't be used to waste time and rot their brains.

Reading the NY times or other newspapers on it -- very cool how it gets them automatically each day, but not very satisfying to read.  however reading the onion blog is quite fun.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 07:38:47 PM by mouser » Logged
allen
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2010, 08:25:47 PM »

There are 3 reasons why I absolutely adore using an ebook reader and would perhaps sooner stop reading than know I'd have no choice but go back to the old paper books.

Searchable text, annotations (also searchable) and inline dictionary lookup are things I have dreamt of having for as long as I've been reading.
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2010, 09:07:48 PM »

the dictionary feature is indeed excellent -- i should have mentioned that.

search is a great feature in theory, but because my conclusion is that the ebook isnt great for reference browsing, its hard to think of cases where search helps much.

i find annotations one of the features where the ebook fails miserably compared to writing in the margins of a real book or paper.

which also brings up another downside of an ebook reader compared to a real book.  with a real book on my bookshelf, i can see it, remember it, see the notes i wrote in it -- it has a very real tangible memory existence for me.  the ebook books seem much much more ethereal -- once finished they vanish from memory.  again this is a case where reading a novel would be fine, but for a reference book, i don't know.
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Lutz_
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2010, 12:22:14 AM »

That sounds like a great idea: ebook reader for children  
Quote
.... And it's one of the few technological devices that can't be used to waste time and rot their brains.
Although I am pretty confident this, too, will change soon enough - likely before our son will be able to appreciate an ebook reader.
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jaden
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2010, 01:00:51 AM »

Quote
...a wonderful gift might be to get one of these now cheap kindles

When I read that, I pulled up Amazon to see what a Kindle DX was going for nowadays.

$359?  That's not cheap in my book (no pun intended) cheesy
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JavaJones
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2010, 01:36:47 AM »

He probably means the less feature-full and older (?) version that's half the price:
http://www.amazon.com/Kin...ay-Globally/dp/B0015T963C

- Oshyan
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nudone
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2010, 03:10:27 AM »

thanks for the review, mouser.

you've made a good case for the kindle - i'd never really seen the point of an ebook reader until now.

(i'll wait until they are about $50 though.)
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mouser
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2010, 07:35:05 AM »

indeed when i said "cheap" i meant the smaller models of the kindle or other ebook manufacturers that are now under $200.

obviously that's still a lot of money -- i didn't mean to imply it wasn't, just that the costs are starting to get to where it's a gift to consider.
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phitsc
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2010, 10:35:56 AM »

I completely agree with your findings mouser. I've been owning a Kindle 2 (i.e. the small one) for a few months now and I really love reading on it. I agree that it sucks for reference books. I think it's suboptimal for programming books (the DX might be better in this respect). It absolutely rocks for novels.

Apart from the display and its consequences (eye comfort, viewing angle, battery life, etc.) what I love most about it are its size/form factor, the dictionary lookup feature (non-native English speaker here) and the fact that I can carry several books with me in such a small (and light) package. This was maybe the main reason for me to get one in the first place. Where this comes in handy is when going on holiday. I usually take a few novels, a few programming books and a few magazines with me on holiday. Programming books are usually quite heavy and bulky too. An ebook reader solves this problem nicely.

And I second mouser's old classics tip. I've already read a few of those. The last one I read has become one of my favourite novels: The Count of Monte Cristo. Man how I wish I was able to read that in French smiley
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allen
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2010, 05:48:36 PM »

Admittedly, I use it exclusively for novels, a few philosophy books and a handful of personal documents.

As for annotations failing miserably. . . I guess I don't understand that at all. I have no experience using it as a with reference books, but for my purposes it's far superior to margin scribbles.  I don't have to maintain the books/volumes themselves, the references are all there on my kindle. I can search them. I can view them in a list without having to find where they are in the book.  If I am recalling a part of a book I really liked, I can simply go pull it up on my kindle or on the computer.  Far more convenient than finding the book on a shelf (or in a box or realizing I no longer have it), then fanning through the pages hoping to find what I'm thinking of.

And I guess I haven't had the same experience as you, Mouser--with the kindle books being more ethereal and vanishing from memory. . . Since moving to the kindle, I'm reading far more than I had been. In truth, my reading had really tapered off in recent years.

The kindle has been a, dare I say, magical experience for me. It's like something out of science fiction. A book with a cursor and a dictionary and a database of my notes and it looks and reads like ink on paper.
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Deozaan
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2010, 06:03:14 PM »

In fact i'll go further: if you have a child you want to expose to fine literature, a wonderful gift might be to get one of these now cheap kindles, and fill it with public domain literature classics.  And it's one of the few technological devices that can't be used to waste time and rot their brains.

The Nook already can play games.

And you can loan eBooks to friends. And if you go into a B&N you can read ANY book on your Nook (when you leave the store the book(s) will disappear).

Sounds like the Nook is a clear winner. Except for those pesky games. Wink
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mouser
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2010, 06:31:19 PM »

Quote
And if you go into a B&N you can read ANY book on your Nook


!!!! that sounds amazing.
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Deozaan
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2010, 07:14:06 PM »

Quote
And if you go into a B&N you can read ANY book on your Nook
!!!! that sounds amazing.

Of course, that's assuming it's even available on the Nook in the first place. As I understand it, the Kindle still has the upper hand when it comes to selection.
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Darwin
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2010, 07:25:45 PM »

Love my Aluratek Libre - and it'[s dropped almost 30% in price since I bought mine - $129 Cdn. at the moment. I use it solely for novels and it's re-kindled ( tongue) my passion for reading. I'm waiting for colour e-ink/e-paper to come out before I get a bigger format reader. I expect that a large screen, long battery life, and colour will make reading textbooks and other reference/academic material a dream... I'm also looking forward to reading the newspaper that way, too...  Thmbsup
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allen
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2010, 09:05:25 PM »

The Nook already can play games.

And you can loan eBooks to friends. And if you go into a B&N you can read ANY book on your Nook (when you leave the store the book(s) will disappear).

Sounds like the Nook is a clear winner. Except for those pesky games. Wink

I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clear winner -- there's a one hour per visit limit on reading a nook book in B&N. If you want to go to B&N for free reading, skip the Nook and forgo the hour reading limit and just read the paper books.  Friend loaning is also limited, as I understand it, in that you can only loan out a book once for 14 days.  Not once at a time, but once period. Granted, that's 14 days more lending time than you get with the Kindle, but... hardly compelling.

Whether or not there is a clear winner between the Nook, Kindle or any other reader is another thread altogether, though.  Sony, Nook, Kindle, I'd take any of them over a paper book. Ereaders are my favorite tech this decade.
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Deozaan
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« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2010, 03:41:32 AM »

I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clear winner
Yeah, as soon as I posted that I started rethinking my position.

there's a one hour per visit limit on reading a nook book in B&N.

Only one hour? That's. . . dumb.

I knew you could loan books for only 14 days, but I didn't know it was just once per book. They really need a way to transfer ownership to someone else, just as you can do with the analog books.
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wraith808
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2010, 09:27:06 AM »

I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clear winner
Yeah, as soon as I posted that I started rethinking my position.

there's a one hour per visit limit on reading a nook book in B&N.

Only one hour? That's. . . dumb.

I knew you could loan books for only 14 days, but I didn't know it was just once per book. They really need a way to transfer ownership to someone else, just as you can do with the analog books.

I'm sure the limit is to limit abuse in someone's mind.

Interesting article on the fallacies of it, though...

http://ireaderreview.com/...ok-lending-before-launch/
« Last Edit: July 17, 2010, 09:31:54 AM by wraith808 » Logged

40hz
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2010, 02:04:15 PM »

Reference books and papers: it's very hard to capture the feel and experience you get from being able to really quickly flip through, scan, and browse such documents and can feel claustrophic and very limiting trying to do here.

Interesting that you feel that way. That was also my impression when I got a chance to play with a Kindle and a Nook for a few hours.

Unfortunately, the only reason I would like to be able to cart 100+ books around with me would be if they were all reference materials and user manuals. Much easier than working with an 8Gb key full of PDFs like I currently am.

But even if these readers were ideal, it would still leave me with the problem of having to repurchase all of these books too.

Let's see...48 books @ $49.99 plus 17 books @ $69.99 plus plus 11 more at $39.99 plus that $199 monster...and it comes out to...um...yikes!  tellme I'll just stick with paper for now.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2010, 02:10:02 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2010, 02:14:27 PM »

But even if these readers were ideal, it would still leave me with the problem of having to repurchase all of these books too.

I think this is a major issue with Kindle. Not unlike the changeover from analog record to tapes to CDs perhaps, though with the latter you usually got better sound quality and bonus tracks.

Since Amazon remembers all your purchases, they could offer discounts for Kindle editions to customers who previously bought print editions of the same titles. That would be a serious enticement for me.
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2010, 02:23:34 PM »

Thanks, Mouser, for your thoughts. They couldn't come at a better time for me, since I'm just about to order Kindle (or decide against it), though I'm going for the smaller version.

With the recently reduced price I'm almost convinced, but I still feel uneasy about the availability of books I actually want to read. Almost all my reading, besides reference books, is non-fiction. Since the year 2000 I've bought close to a hundred books from Amazon, of which no more than 20 are available in Kindle editions today. Even some of the most famous, best-selling titles are not available (like, where is Naomi Klein's "No Logo", hello?). Then Amazon intentionally limits their catalog for European customers. For whatever dumb corporate reason the number of books they sell to European Kindle users is about 25% less than what's available in their US catalog.

I once spent some time browsing through audible.com's impressive selection of audiobooks (also an Amazon company), only to find out that when I signed up for an account, I could buy *none* of the audiobooks I wanted. Not a single one; they were only sold to US/Canadian customers. With Kindle it doesn't seem to be so bad, but still the discrimination persists. I guess availability will only improve in time, but at the moment there's only a handful Kindle editions that I really want to buy and haven't yet read.
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2010, 04:35:46 PM »

There's no chance I could read a book in 14 days. Well, maybe if I ditched my Playstation Wink

Concerning book availability: when, a few months ago, I was checking if any of the books I had just read were available for the Kindle, actually none of them were (and some of them were not even new titles). Now, a few months later, most of them are. Well, most of the English ones anyway.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2010, 02:15:57 PM »

Tranglos, the limitations on sales of ebooks/audiobooks to non-US customers probably isn't an Amazon thing; I'd bet they'd be more than happy to sell you as many books as possible. cheesy More likely it's a publisher limitation. I agree it's stupid though.

- Oshyan
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« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2010, 09:41:33 AM »

Dear Mouser
I was very interested in your comments about the ereader. Thank you for sharing.
I am going blind, do you think it would be suitable from someone with limited sight?
 
Could you please tell me if you know of something that will read
to me from the computer. There is something called Dragon,
but it is fearfully expensive!!
warmest greetings from Scotland
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mouser
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2010, 09:44:12 AM »

The amazon kindle actually has a built in voice reading feature that will read what you see on the screen out loud to you, and has earphone jack too.  it seems to work quite well.

As far as it being useful for limited site -- one of the main advantages of these ebook readers, and the kindle in particular, is that you can zoom the font size to be very large.  so i think that would be quite useful for someone who can still see but has a hard time with small print.
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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2010, 09:51:03 AM »

I have a sony reader I got for Xmas, and I really love it.  I am a heavy fiction reader, and I travel, and I discovered that I can move to a smaller suitcase since I can carry all my reading material in a single small device in my carry on bag.  (although, I am a little distressed to discover that I can't use it during take offs and landings, even though it has no wireless component at all. ) Also, since I can dump PDF files on it, I carry all my meeting notes on it as well.
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