The idea of an ebook reader has intrigued me for a while. I wanted one to read my nonfiction on. I highlight my books, write in the margins and flag pages (gasp!) so the appeal for me was being able to search books and my notes fast and easy. I also read a lot of pdf reports and I wanted to be able to read them on the device and highlight and make notes in them too. But like many librarians (and others) I had a problem with being tied to one device, issues with DRM, pricing, ownership, compatibility and libraries so I kept putting off committing to a device and reading ebooks. Three things happened in pretty rapid succession to change my mind.
First the iPad was announced. This got me thinking I could have one device that would allow me to read books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and of course the iBooks. But I knew it would be a long time before I could get one and I wasn’t sure how I would like reading on a regular screen. In April I got to play with one for the first time and loved it.
Second a conversation with my friend Liz who is a psychologist, mother of a 3 year old and a Nook owner. I’m always interested in her opinion on these things because she isn’t a librarian or a techie, but does use gadgets because they make her life easier. She got her Nook for Christmas and says she has read more on it since getting it than she has since her son was born. We were talking about books and ebooks I expressed a couple of concerns to her. The first was about DRM and the limitations of ebooks. She told me I needed to stop thinking about ebooks as if they were just like books. She compared it to dining out, you pay more for something you could have prepared yourself at home, you pay for the atmosphere and the experience and the convenience. This “clicked” with me. Sure I’m not getting the same things I would I were purchasing a paper book, I’m getting other things and its a trade-off
The second concern I expressed to Liz was about the ease of buying books. I already have a “bad” habit of buying books because I want to read them. I have piles of books in the apartment on my to-read list. Sure I make to-read lists too, but I also will buy books at the bookstore because I want to read them. This is not the best habit when I already have so many books and some have been sitting on that to-read shelf for over 2 years. How bad would things get if I only had to click a button to do this. Liz said she had the same concern so has the rule that she downloads the sample chapter first, only after she’s finished that can she buy the whole book. Brilliant!
Third I read Buffy’s post about reading on her iPhone. In it she mentions using Kindle for PC and the note-taking abilities. ah! I decide to download Kindle for PC to my laptop and netbook and test it out. Originally I was thinking I would see if reading on a computer screen bothered me that way I’d know if using an iPad as an ereader would work for me. Along the way I discovered I already have the perfect ebook reader – my netbook. I can control the brightness of the screen easily, adding notes and making highlights is much easier with a “real” keyboard and mouse, the battery life is long, its something I carry with me almost everywhere already. Frankly I love it. It solves so many problems for me.
Once I was able to accept that what I’m paying for in ebooks is convenience, I got past the money issue, though I still don’t like the idea of paying more than 9.99 for one. I follow Liz’s advice about downloading a sample and reading it before buying, I find this works well for me. Reading ebooks on the netbook allows me to use ebooks exactly how I have been wanting to.
- I have the desktop apps from Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Overdrive installed, so not only am I not tied to one device or store but I get to take advantage of my libraries free books as well.
- Note taking and highlighting is easy and I can copy my notes into google docs for super fast search-ability across all the platforms.
- I don’t loan books anyway so that isn’t an issue for me.
To keep this post from getting way too long (by my blog standards) look for separate posts on how I use each of these later this week.