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Voice Of The Fans: Do You eBook?

Up until recently, I was an ebook skeptic. I prefer the heft and feel of a book as opposed to holding some electronic device. Of course, the only two places I had read ebooks on were on my PC (can’t lie in bed with that or sit on the couch) and an iPaq Windows Mobile ‘smartphone’ (which has a really tiny screen and sucks to read on). I had written off the ebook thing, even with Amazon’s Kindle app for PCs.

That all changed when I received an email from my brother which went something like this, “I just bought an iPad, do you want my Kindle?” Of course, I said yes! If it’s free, it’s for me! In this case I received something (Kindle v2.0) I had only ever seen in pictures and never used. Well, I’ve been using it for about two months now and I really, really like it. It’s really easy to read books on the Kindle, even if the formatting may get a bit funky sometimes depending, and I love the Whispernet access and ease of downloading books to it. One click, turn it on, 20 seconds later, boom, new book! Plus I never have to bookmark where I am in a novel, the Kindle remembers for me. Plus, I have the option of entering notes for a book. I’ve never done that, but it’s there if I need it.

The only drawback so far, well, two really, is the lack of a backlight which means I have to read where there is light or out a booklight on it for reading in bed at night. Of course there are Kindle booklights available, capitalism is a wonderful thing. The other issue is the page redraw speed, which is slow. It takes about a second from pressing ‘next page’ until the next page actually displays. I’ve trained myself to hit ‘next page’ in the middle of the last sentence and when I’m done, the new page is displayed so it’s not a big deal. Other than those, I find the Kindle to be a terrific way to read.

I have a about 4 pages of books, some of which I’ve bought, some I’ve downloaded and a few PDFs which I added using the USB connection and that is only scratching the surface on how many books this thing can hold. I imagine our own Tim Z. would have appreciated having this instead of carting 10 Warhammer 40k books around on his vacation. Now I can bring this with me and always have a book at hand to read. It’s awesome.

Just this week an mini-price war has broken out between Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Kindle. Both prices have been dropped to $189. I’ll say right up front I’m not I’d pay $189 for either device, no matter how great they may be. That still seems to pricey. For me, $100 would be the line where it gets interesting. However, with a Kindle app for just about every mobile platform of note and for the PC, Amazon is doing things right for ebook distribution, pricing is a battle for a different day.

How many of you use an ebook reader of some sort? Has it changed the way you read? If you don’t have one yet, are you more interested now?

Let us know in the comments!

About JP Frantz (2322 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

27 Comments on Voice Of The Fans: Do You eBook?

  1. I read on my iPhone (using Stanza) and I love it.

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which means sitting up and holding a paper book can be difficult. Even lying down with one is hard. Having something as small and light as a phone to read on is perfect for me.

    I’ve also found that in the last few years, the amount of text squashed onto a paperback page tends to hit the information overload threshold in my brain, so the small screen is actually perfect for me. It contains just enough text for me to process easily.

    Digital has rapidly become my format of choice except for those authors I like to “collect” where I’m likely to buy both paper for my collection and digital to read.

  2. sfsignalcommenter // June 25, 2010 at 2:15 am //

    I love my Kindle which I chose because most screens hurt my eyes after long usage.  Though I disagree with some of the DRM choices especially I pay more than $10 for a book I will only read once and never be able to sell back to half-price books or give to a friend, I have been nothing but enthralled with it.  I can read on it all day without the slightest hint of eyestrain.  I finish one book and instantly find another to start reading.  In the days of bookstores I’d order or buy a bunch of books and read maybe half of them before wanting some newer book.  But as long as I was buying it…  Repeat.  Now every book I buy, I read.  I just buy one at a time, instantly, when I want to read them.  I’m reading more and I’m enjoying reading more.

  3. The Kindle certainly lived  up to it’s name in my case. It did indeed rekindle my personal reading habits.

    I’m an IT systems manager and spend all day looking at computer screens. I spend 2-3 hours a day in the car commuting. So between the eye strain from looking at computers all day, and the time lost to traffic, I had totally dropped reading for personal pleasure.

    Then I bought the Kindle 2 right after it came out. Everyone knows most the features by now so I won’t list them. But the one feature that changed everything for me is the controversial text to speech. Thanks to that feature, I plug the Kindle into my car stereo and get read to for hours a day. I’ve read literally hundreds of books since buying it, subscribe to several magazines, and listen to all my sci-fi RSS feeds courtesy of some fooling around with the email import feature.

    It’s no iPad, but the Kindle is priceless to me. Now someone please, disable my 1 Click ability; I don’t know if my checking account can survive my new spendingon eBooks.

  4. To the poster before me, Baen books sells their books DRM free I believe. Their library is at , they some free titles too.

  5. Paul NYC // June 25, 2010 at 5:52 am //

    A few things are holding me back from buying one. First and foremost is the price of e-books versus price of paperbacks. I generally don’t buy hardcovers and don’t have a real need to be the first on my block to read anything so that price difference doesn’t affect me. Like digital music, I think the price structure needs to be adjusted especially considering the fact that when I buy a book made of paper, I can either put it on my shelf or trade it with another book lover for something else if I choose. Unless paperbacks get phased out completely which would force me to buy e-books, I now have little incentive to invest in a reader especially when I add up how many books I’d need to buy to break even on the cost.

    Secondly, it’s the format. I’m waiting for the publishing business to settle on one format. I despise proprietary anything which always reminds me of some past Sony debacle. The DRM is not that much of an issue with me but I want to make sure that I can do as I please with the thing I purchase including having the damned thing be portable between different hardware formats. As for the DRM? If someone creates it, someone else will come along eventually and crack it. Those folks who steal or trade or whatever will do so whether publishers or record companies want them to or not. You’re not going to stop it ever and the number of folks stealing is going to be negligible.

    Thirdly, it’s a personal issue on hardware. Amazon seems to have gotten on board a la Apple (another company I don’t like) with a device that a large number of hipsters has latched on to making all other devices also-rans. I don’t like Amazon because I don’t like Bezos and his support for a particular political party on the right. I don’t buy from Amazon because I’m not giving my money to them. It means nothing in the long run but I tend to spend my money where I’m comfortable.

    And yes, I’m the one guy who bought a Zune HD.

  6. I’ve been reading books for years. Like you, I was skeptical at first. Also like you, what changed my mind was when my husband upgraded his PDA and gave me his old one. He showed me how and where to download ebooks, free or purchased. When I began doing alot of traveling, it became indispensable. I now have an ipod touch, with apps so I can read books downloaded from pretty much anywhere ( i.e. Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Manybooks, Fictionwise, etc.). I like that this gives me alot of choice where I can get books, unlike the Kindle or Nook. I also like the backlit screen. ( I was never a big outdoor reader.) 

  7. Edit: My post should read “I’ve been reading ebooks for years.”

  8. I’ve been reading, promoting and proselytizing ebooks for the better part of a decade.  I have played with but do not own any of the dedicated ebook readers like the Kindle, as I’ve found that I get just as good readability and a wider range of use from even the cheapest PDA’s.  I started out using Starbuck on a Phillips Nino, graduated through Cassipeia’s to a Dell Axim, and just last week upgraded to an iPod Touch, which is really rocking my socks right now. 

    My problems with the dedicated readers are the lack of backlight, the monochromatic interface, the limited functions of the devices and the relatively slower page refreshes.  Everyone’s talking up the price drop as a great thing, but I bought my Dell Axim X5 for $20 at a yard sale and installed uBook from Gowerpoint for an extra $10.  For that $30, I got a color device with an adjustable font size that made reading very easy on the eyes, and access to a host of other applications and games as well.  By comparison to uBook on the Axim, the page refresh on (for example) the Sony Reader is like attempting to watch streaming video on a PII computer…it’ll work, but it’s irritatingly choppy.

    Still, in comparison to carrying dead trees, even the dedicated devices are preferable.  I like the very idea of having access to a library of literature wherever I may be.  I tend to read multiple books at once and like being able to switch between chapters, and also like not having to wait until I get back home or to a bookstore to pick up a new book when I finish one.  I find that I read any book about twice as fast on a digital device, which means a lot when daily reading time is limited.  Also, I don’t have any figures on this, but I’m sure that there must be an ecological advantage to reading digitally as opposed to buying in print.  There’s also the obvious financial advantage…ebooks generally cost less than their physical counterparts, and there’s tons of public domain material available free, meaning that my book budget is saved for more collectible volumes.

    I’ve converted several friends to reading on PDA’s.  I think that those people who insist on the smell or weight of a physical book or say “I couldn’t read on a screen” haven’t really given the devices a fair shake.  While I do appreciate a good physical copy of, say, a portfolio or illustrated book, I think that for plain text and ephemeral fiction, digital is the way to go.


  9. Having a degree in English literature I’ve always been tempted to replace my shelves of old, out of copyright books with a Kindle or similar device. But I’d avoid the Kindle because you don’t really own the books on it. You can’t sell it when you’re done with it. You can’t lend it to someone, or borrow somebody elses. There’s really little difference between an e-book and a book from the library.

    Oh and Kindles and iPads are kind of useless on an airplane. For half an hour or so at the beginning and end of the flight you can’t use them. You might have to read the inflight magazine or pay attention to the safety demonstration while us paper book readers keep reading.

  10. Paul NYC // June 25, 2010 at 8:21 am //

    One more thing that might entice me to buy an e-reader is if publishers that are currently warehousing copyrighted material would put out of print books out there for those of us who might want to read them. I know that most people might not want to read Killbots of the Empire by T.R. Higgenbotham but I’m sure some might.

  11. For the past eight or so years, when I read something electronically, it was on my Palm Pilot Zire 31. Pixelated screen, small screen, and limited features. Nonetheless, I used and enjoyed it, converting any text file to a pdb file using dropbook app.

    Now, I have an iPod Touch and I’m in e-reading heaven. I use Stanza mostly (just downloaded iBook two days ago) and consider it the best ereader on the iPod. I have the Nook app, the Kindle app, and Kobo as well). I use Calibre as my ebook library on my Mac and it and Stanza work flawlessly. Now that I have iBook, I’ll give it a test drive.

    I’m a life-long lover of books and hope to be writing and selling my own in the future. I love the smell of books and, in particular, a used book store. However, there is something magnificent about a device like the iPod Touch that is small, portable, and multi-faceted that excites me. 

    My music consuming paradigm has already transformed from a hard copy (CD, LP, cassette) to digital. I expect my reading experience to do the same. But I’ll still have one foot in the book camp forever. 

  12. Being in my fifties, I’m supposed to shun all things bright and shiny or any hint of change because young people and guys my age with pony tails say so. In keeping with that, I always want to shudder with contempt at the thought of giving up “real” books for e-books. The “e” almost certainly stands for “evil”, you know. However, if I choke that reaction down long enough to think about it, I have to admit most of my current reading is of things I have no interest in owning. Even most of the science fiction I read, I get from the library and only purchase if it particulary strikes me.

    So I flip-flop on whether it makes any sense for me to go for something like the Kindle. For access to the free stuff, might be worth my while. I actually do look up old works regularly online. But having to buy books I would normally read from the library, I’d go broke quickly. I know some libraries offer e-books on loan, but I don’t really know how it all works or even if applicable to the Kindle. At any rate, my library does not. Still, I’m keeping my eyes open and watching the price. The argument of having access to a large library anywhere you go is a compelling one.


  13. I’ve been reading ebooks for about 9 or 10 years.  Started with a Palm m500.  That had a monochrome screen and the backlight was nice at night since it wasn’t really bright.  Have been using a Sony Clie for the past 2 years which is also nice.  Then 3 months ago I got a Sony Pocket reader (prs-300).

    I love it.

    I was waiting for years for ereaders to reach the $150 mark before I would buy one.  I had a big vacation coming up and Amazon had the Pocket for $170 so I snapped it up.  Of course, that same day the Kobo was announced for $150 (not a big deal since I wanted it right away and the Kobo wouldn’t be out for months) and since then the Kindle has dropped to $199 and nook for $150 (wifi).

    I’m still not sorry that I got the Pocket reader though.  I don’t need wireless. I don’t need mp3 or any kind of audio.  All those things drain the battery faster.  I don’t want a touch screen since that affects the clarity of the screen. I can store over 300 books on it, the battery lasts for a good week (I read a lot) and it fits in my cargo pockets.

  14. Cheryl Blamey // June 25, 2010 at 9:34 am //

    Rob wrote: “Oh and Kindles and iPads are kind of useless on an airplane. For half an hour or so at the beginning and end of the flight you can’t use them. You might have to read the inflight magazine or pay attention to the safety demonstration while us paper book readers keep reading.”


    I don’t know about the Kindle, but the iPad has an “Airplane Mode” that turns off your wifi/3G so you won’t mess with the plane’s take off/landing but still read your ebooks. The last Airtran flight I took ( a few weeks ago) allowed passengers to do this. 

  15. I use an iPad with the iBook, Kindle, and B&N software. I have had a Kindle, but it broke. I have a Nook, which I use for downloading ebooks from my library. It’s great since between all three stores, I can find the ebook I want.

  16. I have read entire books on my PC and would love to have an eBook reader but I will not pay over $100 dollars for one. I’m not even sure I would pay $100 dollars. It greatly frustrates me that I cannot find a cheaper eBook reader. There are cheap off brand mp3 players (I have one) for people not willing to pay for iPods so why not cheap off brand eBook readers?

    Another thing that bothers me is the incident a while back of Amazon deleting books from customers’ Kindles. I don’t want Big Brother messing around in my library, no matter what their reason and even if they promise, swear on a stack of bibles to never never do it again I still wouldn’t trust them. I don’t want the to <i>be able to</i> mess around in my library.

  17. As far as ebooks are concerned, I read only free ePub ebooks (DRM-free, Creative Commons, public domain etc) downloaded from sites like Freebooks, Manybooks, Smashwords… on my oldie cell phone.
    But has anyone thought about what would happen if/when the period of strong solar activity annouced for 2014 starts to affect all electronics on the Earth? The solar flares are expected to deactivate communication satellites and also erase electronic databases including all the ebooks in portable readers. So, to be on a safe(r) side, I’ll keep all my dead tree books.

  18. For Mike P– Nooks and Sonys let you use library ebooks if your library has an ebook lending program.  Kindle doesn’t, at present. I don’t think IBooks does either. 

    Some folks like LCD, some like e-ink. I am a Kindle owner and like other folks, I find that when reading is more conevnient, I do it more. I carry my Kindle in my purse for times when I find myself waiting.  It’s great!  I don’t mind the lack of a backlight because it’s easier on my eyes.  I’m looking forward to my first beach vacation with it.

    I think the more folks try digital reading, the more persuaded they are that it’s actually a good way to read. 




  19. I bought a Sony Reader Touch a couple months ago when they dropped the price. (I think they may have started the whole “price war”…in response to the Kobo that is or soon will be available here in the US.)

    Anyway, I love it. I travel often, so it’s perfect for me in many ways. I used to have 1-2 books in a carry-on with 1-2 more in my checked bag, just so I’d be sure I always had something to read. I don’t have to worry about that now with dozens or even hundreds of titles at my fingertips at any given time in a very portable package.

    The library feature is my favorite part so far. I was actually surprised at the number of good titles available through my local library. And it seems they add more every week.

    Anyway, all I have is good things to say about my ebook experience so far. Of course, I still read print books – this was never and “either/or” thing for me. IMO, there is an audio analogy:

    Reading print books is like listening to your favorite band on CD or DVD on the home stereo / theater system; it’s about high quality and a more “complete” listening experience.

    Reading ebooks is like listening to your favorite band on an iPod or MP3 player; it’s about convenience and portability.

    Great discussion, folks!

  20. I have been using a Sony PRS-505 for over two years now and it is my everyday carry book.  Though I still read a paperback or hardback occasionally, I prefer the ebook reader because no matter how many pages there are in the book, the reader doesn’t get any heavier.

    Though I like the ibook experience on an iPad, I can’t carry the iPad in my pants cargo pocket.

  21. No.

    See no reason, advantage, or improvement thereby. I’m a hold it and turn the pages, ink-and-paper guy. Sorry, nothing but a book is a book.

  22. My company had a Christmas deal with Amazon that got me a Kindle for half price, otherwise I still wouldn’t have one. I’ve enjoyed having it, mostly because it’s great for traveling.  I love just throwing my Kindle into my bag instead of packing 4-8 books and hoping I’ve correctly anticipated what I’ll be in the mood to read over the the next 4 days. Plus with all the baggage restrictions it’s good that I don’t need a carry-on bag just for my books anymore! So far I’ve only gotten free books and short stories, which has actually been great b/c I’m now reading classics I had never gotten around to before now. For example, today I read about 5 chapter of <i>20,000 Leagues Under the Sea</i> while at the DMV. I don’t read on it as much as I read my normal, hard copy texts, but it is invaluable for when I’m traveling.

  23. Doug Hulick // June 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm //

    When I can drop my e-reader in a puddle, dry it out on the radiator overnight, and then use it again (or replace it for about $9 if it is too water-logged), I will be far more tempted. I’ve used Stanza on my iTouch and been impressed, but again, not enough to full convert. When’s the last time your paper book ran out of batteries right at the good part? 😉

    E-readers are handy if you travel a lot, etc.; but if you tend to stay put (or are clumsy, or have kids, or…), paper books still have a lot of advantages. That’s not to say I will never get one, but the “Ooh, ah” factor just isn’t there for me.

  24. slothflyer // June 26, 2010 at 12:00 am //

    I don’t have an ebook reader.  I prefer audible.

  25. I also use audiobooks. It is a simple, quick and convenient. I can do – during the “reading” – some other things, for example, wash dishes, clean up my apartment, walk the dog. It’s just great.

  26. I can’t seem to decide.  I have a Kindle 2.0 which I do buy books on, but I still love buying “real” books. I like them on my bookshelves, I like to collect them, be it paperback or hardcover, and I like the feel of them in my hands.  On the the other side of the equation, there’s the price thing.  A best-seller can run close to $30 at your local bookstore, but the Kindle price will be $10-15.  Can’t beat that.  I also like the Kindle for traveling.  No lugging four or five books along.

    I guess what I’ve decided is that what works best for me is to have both, leaning more to real books.

  27. I have a nook.  I held off for a long time, and ended up with one for what I told myself were “practical reasons” — i.e., I’m in a space that isn’t my own, and did not want to overrun people with my books.

    The experiment has been partially successful.  I like the ease of the nook — the bookmarking capability is cool, always knowing where my place is, no bookmark falling out…  I have yet to try it on a long trip or flight, though.  That may be the true test.

    In the meantime, I do like it — but I think it’s always going to be a back-up for me, and never a replacement for paper books.  I like the feel of turning pages too much.

    Reading up in the comments — I do know that the nook has an airplane mode as well, although as I say, I haven’t tried it yet.

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