Ereader Shopping

Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve admitted to myself that an ereader would make my life easier.

I resisted for a long time. I don’t particularly like ebooks; I don’t like leasing books instead of buying them, and I like the physical heft of a novel. Besides, I said, I have a netbook (that runs on Linux and doesn’t like the Adobe authentication software). But I’ve been getting more and more ebooks, more and more things are available, and with all the egalleys I’ve been going through, well, I think it’s time.

First off: the Kindle’s out. I don’t like the way Amazon has been handling it, and I don’t want to support the way they’ve been doing business with ebooks. From the 1984 deletion scandal to their highly unprofessional single-company boycott of Macmillan to the unregulated mess of the Kindle store, I want nothing to do with them any more. (I have in fact stopped buying books from Amazon altogether and gone back to my local chain and indie bookstores, which is better for the local economy anyway.)

Now, I’m usually the type who prefers a cheaper third-party option to the big brand names, but unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good third-party options in the ereader field at the moment. I haven’t seen one yet that manages to be even an adequate replacement for one of the big three. So that leaves me with the Sony Kobo or the Barnes & Noble Nook. I admit, I have a superstitious dislike of the Kobo largely because it’s been the ereader supported by Borders, and Borders is not the healthiest bookstore chain at the moment. The current version is, inconveniently, right-handed: there’s only one button, on the bottom right of the device. That pretty much kicks it out of the running for me. I’m sick of using gadgets that have been carefully designed for someone I am not.

B&N Nook, 1st Edition

That leaves me with the Nook. Fortunately, the Nook gets excellent reviews and looks to be one of the best options available. It handles PDF and epub formats, the two most common formats I’m likely to be handling ebooks in. It syncs with my Adobe Digital Editions for reading galleys from NetGalley. And it’s compatible with Overdrive, the system the public library uses for ebooks, which is huge for me. I haven’t used the library to check out ebooks yet, but with a reader I might give it a shot.

The only question left is which Nook to buy. I like the idea of eink screens, but the low refresh rate is a little tedious, particularly when you read as fast as I do. Then again, the Nook Color is more than $100 more expensive, so that puts it well out of my budget. Consumer Reports gives good scores to the new eink Nook, but I still think I prefer the old one better. (I do like that the ability to check out library books was what pushed it up above the Kindle.) I played with both versions in the store a couple of weeks ago, and I like the limited touchscreen and the manual buttons.

This is not the first step to abandoning paper books. I love my paper books. I like to have big piles of books sitting around, reminding me to read them. (Plus they make great insulation in the winter.) And the rights issue still exists: when you buy an ebook, what are you buying, really? I’ll probably stick to paper books for most of my purchases and end up reading most of the Project Gutenberg archive on my Nook. But, well, it’s time to join the twenty-first century. And you have to admit, an ereader is smaller to lug around than the Complete Works of Shakespeare, when you suddenly get a hankering for Falstaff.

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About Jen Moore

I'm a recent library school graduate in Madison, Wisconsin, looking for a full-time professional job and trying to manage a fulfilling life in the meantime. Oh, and I read. A lot.

Posted on June 26, 2011, in The Ebook Wars and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’ve heard that Nooks are the best of the e-readers, although I don’t have one yet myself. I like the permanence of physical books, and I like being able to loan them to people who might enjoy reading them. At the same time, I’ve considered getting a Nook, because I do most of my reading while commuting, and it’s significantly lighter than carrying around actual books.

    • The weight factor used to be a big deal for me, when I took the bus all the time and had a half-mile walk to get there — alas, I drive everywhere now, so it doesn’t matter as much. If I ever get back to less car-based commuting, though, it will be a big help.

  2. I just went thru the same thing – I caved and got a kindle because I wanted it to be wireless/3G and because it was the cheapest option since I too will be using it primarily for reviewing ebooks and the free/open access books… I am annoyed about the library thing, but they claim to be fixing that inoperability issue this summer – we’ll see, of course, but since I love going to the library anyway, I don’t mind if I “have” to still do hard-copy books there. I have heard a lot of complaints about amazon – both kindle and in general – but unfortunately with the number of books I buy, I can’t afford to go indie for everything… :) I do take my business there when I can (largely for paperbacks and gift certificates), because I agree about local economy and the great fun of browsing indie stores and talking to owners/staff there. I’m with you all the way on “real” books v. ebooks – I think it’s great to see how many people still want the tactile experience of reading/browsing. In this all-too-easy tech world, it’s refreshing to me!! Great post – and sorry for the insanely long comment!

    • I’ve actually found I can manage pretty well with a combination of library & indie bookstores – it cuts down on the number of books I buy, which in turn cuts down on the number of bookshelves in my apartment. :D But it is pricier, certainly.

      As for physical books – well, I am just not a minimalist person, I have always wanted to have walls and walls of books filling my house, and you can’t do that with ebooks, can you? (One of these days I will have a proper Victorian library. One day!)

      And no worries about the long comment. I like comments!

      • I want a library one day. In all likelihood, realistically, it will be the living room of an apartment, but it will have bookshelves on every wall, big comfy chairs, and scotch.

  3. I had a library in my last house – it was actually the dining room but it was so huge (and I lived alone at the time) that it doubled as a dining room and as a reading/after-dinner drinks/library room. Bookshelves on 3 of four walls (the other wall was deep-set windows & big leather reading chairs), a fireplace, hardwood floors and deep warm pumpkin-colored walls… It was the greatest thing!! :) The new house doesn’t have a full-on library, but I write in a study lined with bookshelves and one good reading chair and the living room has a wall of built-ins. I can’t say enough good things about putting in a library somehow, no matter where/how big, there is no feeling as great as sitting in a comfy chair, surrounded by your books, with a cocktail!!

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