Tag: digital books

What I like about ebooks and these ebook readers

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.

The Perfect E-Reader according to me

The new Skiff Reader debuted at CES last week.

E-readers were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. There were so many new e-readers introduced that one techno-wag actually whined about the number, scope, features, and size of so many devices. I looked at all the e-readers, glanced at most of their capabilities, but I’m not buying one yet.  Here’s my wish list for what I want an e-reader to do:

1. Do more than display digital books. Apple may (I hope) surprise everyone with an mega-iPhone device that will be a computer, video camera, media player, e-reader, gaming device, internet communicator, and perhaps even a phone, but at a hefty price. HP had some tablets on display when Steve Ballmer of Microsoft spoke, but no specs, delivery dates, or other info. Dell showed a 5″ tablet that has promise, and of course the Nexus One Google phone might fit the bill in most of the things I’m looking for. But I don’t want to buy a dedicated device.

2. Use an open reading platform. Apparently PDF and EPUB are the most ubiquitous, with Amazon’s Kindle using a completely proprietary system. Blio, a new digital publishing platform was also introduced at CES, but apparently it’s proprietary as well.  I want to be able to access my books over multiple devices, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

3.  Books available in the cloud from multiple devices. I like Kobo, the former ShortCovers mobile phone ebook reader and service.  Kobo has a very good interface for my Blackberry, plus I can login on my macbook as well.  I can download books, and access them from the cloud, and Kobo remembers where I was when I quit reading.

4.  Wireless purchase and accessibility. Kindle created this feature and others are following close behind.  It’s really so 20th century to have to download books to your computer, then sync to your mobile device.  This will be an assumed feature in the very short future.

5.  Notation, bookmarking, and other ways to personalize text. Most of the higher end e-readers already have this, and a new Samsung device lets you write with a stylus (but do we want a stylus?), just like writing a regular book.  But, is that what we really want to do, or do we want to link our notations to specific paragraphs?  Anyway, at a minimum the ability to interface with the text of the book itself.

6.  Ability to search across my entire digital library. I have about 2,000 printed books.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to search through each volume because invariably I think a reference is in one book, when really it’s in another.  Google Books is getting close with this, and if they ever settle their lawsuit with publishers, authors, and others Google Books may really be a handy reference tool.  But, back to e-readers — search is another basic feature that will have to be included in all e-readers.

7.  Cut-and-paste text from the e-reader to my writing device. I don’t see an alternative to heavy duty writing other than an ergonomic keyboard device like a desktop or laptop anytime soon.  Of course, voice recognition could turn writing into dictating, but writers will still need the ability to do research, clip a quote, footnote the source, and paste all of that into their main writing device.

8.  Video, audio, and color graphics capability. Black-and-white readers will be gone by next Christmas.  Too many color devices will be introduced in 2010 for anyone to settle for e-ink only technology.  One device manufacturer (I forget which one) demo-ed a reader that can switch between b&w e-ink and full color display.  Why not all color, all the time?  Digital books will take on a new form eventually, and will incorporate text, video, photos, graphics, and user interactive features.

9.  Designed for digital books, not print books. Currently digital books run way behind print books in sales, so ebooks are the digital versions of their printed-on-paper big brothers.  But that is changing quickly.  Within five years (maybe less) the curves will cross and digital will pass print as the media of choice.  Students will see it with textbooks and bring their new reading habits into the real world when they graduate.  One tech guru predicts that students will be using tablet computers instead of laptops in the near future.

10.  Foster communities for producing, sharing, and consuming media. Imagine a small group able to share notes, insights, video, audio, and photos around the book or periodical they are using as a study guide.  Of course, everyone would need access to a device, but prices will come down quickly.

That’s what I’m looking for in my stocking next Christmas.  What would you add to this set of specs, or how to you see the whole e-reader and other devices developing, especially as it relates to church?