So, Should I Have an E-Reader?
An eReader is a wonderful thing. It's entertaining but of course it is more than just a toy or gadget. At less than $150, eReaders are a real deal. Now, I happen to like Kindle, but there are many options. eReader options are assaulting the market like Sony Reader or Barnes & Noble's Nook. And that's just talking about eReaders, even before we mention the iPads or tablets. The point is that you need to board this technological train.
- Screen Area: range from 6" to the Kindle DX's 9.7".
- Weight: Kindle's 8.7 ounces to the Nook's 12.1.
- Size: Kindle and Sony Reader are the size of a paperback; Kindle DX and the Nook are almost 8" by 11".
- Storage: Kindle stores 3,500 books; the Sony reader only stores 350.
- Support: Sony Reader requires a computer to network: most others have 3G capability (and more with an upgrade).
You can download a book to Kindle products in seconds - wirelessly. The Sony Reader and Nook display digitally recorded images of pages, so you have the advantage or illustrations and color. The Kindle products use their own system which recreates the text on your reader. This allows for clarity, the ability to read under the glare of the sun, and the ability to alter or enlarge the fonts although it does not look like it would in the actual book.
Other features include the ability to highlight, bookmark, and archive sections or quotes. Imagine how this would be to a student writing a paper on the book. You can share a thought or quote that amuses or intrigues you by emailing it to a friend.
Some readers have color illustrations which help a parent read a bed-time story, and others have the ability to be read portrait or landscape as you move the reader. Some can play music or audio-books.
As eReaders are flooding the market with one new feature or the other, I don't advise joining the race until the pace of innovation levels out. If you read a lot, if you still like paper books but see the convenience in the eReader when traveling, sitting by the pool, or waiting in a doctor's office, the reader is a must for these occasions. If reading is not the main priority, but you like to access newspapers and magazines, reports and financials, then the tablet has more depth and breadth.
An increasing number of local and state school systems are eliminating the use of standard text books, some within the next five years. Students will use some e-device, probably a low cost Kindle spin-off. Textbooks, exercises, tests, videos, and presentations will be available on the eReader. Students will share information with each other and with the instructor, interact with students at other locales, and submit work and presentations electronically. The delivery of this system is a daunting challenge, and the results will change our culture.
College students, a texting generation, are already able to download their textbooks at a considerable savings and convenience. But a student's necessary interactivity, note-taking, and record-keeping, along with Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint accessibility make a tablet the better choice.
Availability of Books:
If all you have now is your $130 Kindle and you are a habitual reader, you are in good shape. There are over 1 million books available through Amazon. (So, tablets that are Amazon friendly are a best choice in tablets.) These titles include the most current titles in every genre. The books are easily purchased (at a discount compared to the print price) and quickly downloaded.
There are an extraordinarily long list of books available free - although most of these titles are classics and already in the public domain. I have been able to read titles I had missed years ago and other titles I wanted to re-read.
Warning: An increasing number of authors are writing directly for eReaders at very low prices at Amazon's Kindle Store. Be careful of these titles. Read the reviews where available because many of these books are rushed to "print," cookie-cutter products, and surprisingly brief. Some of them are great but you have to be discerning for sure!
Now, if you are like me, you will only see some movies on the big screen. Big action movies, musicals, period films, war stories are better enjoyed in the theatre - with its wide screen and big sound system. Still, there are movies you prefer to watch on DVD, movies you didn't want to spend admission for or those small set movies, such as intimate love stories or mysteries.
Approach your eReader in the same way, with the same split personality.
Utility Books: There are many utilitarian titles, such as books on management, do-it-yourself tutorials, cookbooks, and the like. These titles, which do not require a lot of concentration or retention, work very well on an eReader. You might also add titles on current affairs and pop culture.
Pop Fiction: Titles by hugely popular writers, like Stephen King, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Sandra Brown, are all easy ereads for the beach, picnic, or pool.
Literature: Serious literary fiction, history, and memoirs are, for me, better read in paper print. Novels, such as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom: A Novel or Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, are reading experiences you want to give time to. Living history, such as by Erik Larson or The Greater Journey byDavid McCullough, are page turners that you want to give time and attention. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
For example, I recently read two novels. Room was a huge best seller by Emma Donoghue. I paid $9.99 at The Kindle Store (compared to the $13.99 cost of the hardback). A relatively short novel, Room is a quick and clever narrative about the life and struggles of a woman who was imprisoned in one room by a deviant who fathered the boy that she raised in this room. Told from the boy's point of view, the room has no context, so the prose is spare and clean; it has Closet, Rug, Floor, Carpet, etc. because the boy has no outside experience. When the boy escapes and leads police to release his mother, they enter a larger world that threatens them physically and psychologically. Their resilience and the boy's innocent optimism rescue them in the end.
I have also read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I paid $27.00 (compared to the Kindle cost of $9.99). This read was luxurious and time-consuming. Wolf Hall centers on Thomas Cromwell, a peasant who became one of Henry VIII's closest advisors. Sweeping and comprehensive, it covers the years of Henry's courtship and marriage to Ann Boleyn and the consequent formation of The Church of England. Peopled with the whole of English society of the time, it reveals customs, laws, standards of nobility, and the practices of the nobles. Figures, such as Thomas More, Hans Holbein, and Katherine of Aragon, move in and out of court machinations, all coolly observed by the Machiavellian Cromwell.
Now, my point is that the eReader has an increasingly useful place in learning and information management. It will not be long before intelligent people cannot do without some version. But, there will still be a place for the lush prose and multi-dimensional worlds of places like Wolf Hall. Buy accordingly!