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From l-r: iPod Touch, Android HTC, Kindle 3, MacBook as readers.

I’m hooked on books, and now I’m really hooked on ebooks.  Here’s what I like about ebooks over print:

  • Instant delivery. I see a book, and in seconds I’m reading it.  I find this amazing.  I recently found the only book on reverence on Amazon in ebook format on a Saturday night, and had it instantly.  Yes, I should plan ahead, but ebooks do make it easier when you don’t!
  • Cheaper price. Ebooks are usually cheaper, although there is a vast old-guard publishing conspiracy to change this.
  • Greener than print. I know ebook servers use electricity and it is not a pollution-free format.  However, ebooks have to be greener than print because you eliminate cutting trees, making paper, running presses, buying and fueling delivery trucks, etc.
  • Portability. I can carry my entire digital library with me.  This I like because in any format, I like my books and I like to have them with me.  (I realize this is a little OCD, but it is a fairly harmless case.)
  • Searchability. This is really big for me.  I often remember a quote or illustration, but not where I read it.  Searching an ebook, or an entire library, is a preacher’s salvation (not literally, of course) during sermon prep.
  • Storage. My bookshelves are running over.  With ebooks, my library is limited by my device’s memory.  Kindle is up to 3500 titles on one device, which is about twice what I have in print books.
  • Access and preservation. You can’t lose an ebook.  I guess you can lose your reader.  However, if you do, you just download all your titles again.  No more damaged books, lost books, loaned books that don’t return, and no more books lost on the shelf (which has happened more than once to me).
  • Technology. Everything in print is going digital, and everything digital is going mobile.

Okay, at this point I have to disclose that I have accounts with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO (Borders), Sony, and the Adobe reader platform which can take Google books.  However, I now use mostly Amazon’s Kindle format.  I’ve found it the easiest, least cumbersome, and most consistent of all the formats.  I realize that Amazon has a proprietary platform, but so does Apple with iTunes, which I also use.  But Amazon did wireless ebook readers first, and I think they do them best, with some caveats.

I have four devices that function as e-readers:

  • A 13″ MacBook which has the Kindle for Mac on it.
  • An iPod Touch with Kindle for iPhone/iPod app.
  • An Android phone (HTC Hero, which I don’t like but it’s a long story) with the Android Kindle app.
  • A wifi Kindle 3, which I just got this week.

I do use all four devices as e-readers, depending upon where I am mostly.  So, let’s take a quick run-down of each one with its pros and cons:

  • Kindle 3. I bought the Kindle 3 even though I have other devices because the Kindle has capabilities Amazon has not made functional on other platforms.  The pros of the Kindle 3 are:  You can search a book or your entire Kindle library for a keyword or phrase; plus, you can print your notes and highlights.  These two functions are worth the price ($139/wifi) because I am using the device as a research tool.  Another plus is that it’s a decent reader, but frankly I prefer the backlit screens of my iPod, mac, and phone.  On the con side, the Kindle is frustrating slow and clumsy when navigating with the directional key, or accessing menus.  Once you’re used to a touch device (iPod, Android phone), the Kindle seems outdated.
  • MacBook. The MacBook Amazon app is limited, but useful for reading when your lappy is all you’ve got.  Pros:  Bigger screen (all the Amazon apps and devices allow you to adjust the print size), so I can sit back in my desk chair and read with the mac on my desk.  I probably use this the least, but I do use it.  Cons:  You cannot underline, make notes, or do anything other than bookmark a page.  However, the mac app will display previous bookmarks, notes, and highlights.
  • Android HTC Hero. I had to get this phone because AT&T is taking over Alltel (my current carrier) and my Blackberry died.  I will eventually replace with an iPhone, but for now I get to try out an Android phone, although it is not the best available.  Pros:  The Kindle app works, and as a reader I like the Android screen size, although I like the iPod size more because it is slightly larger.  Cons:  Same as with the mac app, you can’t highlight, make notes, or do any annotation other than bookmarking a page.
  • iPod Touch. I bought the iPod Touch in February because I wanted an e-reader I could carry in my pocket.  The iPod Touch fills that bill nicely, and is the best device of the 4 I have for reading.  Pros:  You can highlight (although the touch is dodgy sometimes), make notes, and bookmark.  The highlights and notes made on the iPod (this also applies to the iPhone) show up on the mac.  Initially I also loaded the B&N app, but it kept crashing while the Amazon app just worked.  (B&N has now fixed that issue, but their ebooks tend to be more expensive, and their selection less extensive than Amazon).  Cons:  the touch highlighting is sometimes jiggy, but I have almost mastered the technique, I think.

I do not have an iPad as a reader for two reasons:  1) we don’t have AT&T yet, so I could not get the broadband version; 2) price.  Actually, there is a 3rd reason:  I think the iPad is too heavy to use as an e-reader for very long.  But that’s just my opinion.

If I were limited to only one e-reading device, I would stay with my first choice, the iPod Touch.  (As soon as I can get an iPhone, I’ll retire my iPod Touch for backup or home use).

What are you doing in the digital book and reader world?  Do you find it useful in ministry, and if so, why and how.