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In search of an eBook Reader

The Kobo eReader Touch, an Amazon Kindle, an Aluratek 
Libre Air, and a Barnes & Noble Nook, left to right, are
 displayed in this photo, in New York, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. 
When the Kindle was new, in 2007, it cost $399. Now, e-book
 readers, including a Kindle, can be had for just north of $100.
Since I can own up to possessing an iPad -- my daughter works for Apple -- I have been exposed to a number of tablet apps for ebook reading. You do get to choose on the iPad: Stanza, Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook and Ibis -- are among those that have demanded my readership.

Sure there is a difference in the way they allow you to read -- but the bottom line is that you want  the text there in front of you in a comprehensible format with gadgetry enough to bookmark where you last left off.

Maybe I am undemanding -- but I'm also not necessarily gadget obsessed. I just think that ebookery is the way to go.

The iPad exposure to the way you can hold the digital universe in your hot little hand and read merrily away -- page after page -- has changed forever my reading  assumptions. Reading on a standard computer screen mousing away sucks. Printing hard copies of what you download to read sucks....

My problem however is domestic: I cannot easily get near the iPad because we're sharing the device with a significant other and that other does a lot of things on the iPad beside read books.

So you have to book in. 

Bugger that, I say. I want to possess my own library and read it in my own good time.

My other complication is that with all the ebook applications available to you on the iPad -- including a range of pdf readers -- I ended up with literature all over the device, hidden in the many book nook and crannies that make up the iPad universe. All ebooker apps aren't equal and they seek to tie you into their market niche.

Of course you could stick with Amazon or iBooks ... but why would you want to do that , especially when there is so much more free stuff available from elsewhere and the Kindle won't read the standard ebook file format, epub. 

So you end up not with a library but several.

It is indeed a headache. 

Maybe there is a work around by just using the one or two apps...but with all the other stuff, all the other comings and goings and syncing on an iPad -- you lose track of the texts you may want to hord. 

So I thought: why don't I get another device primarily to read with?

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Now with the advance of the Androids and other tablets that mutiskill ,  substituting for ipad functionality ain't an easy choice. Why just read when you can also listen? And why just listen when you can also watch video...or access the web 24/7? It's the same ole same ole mobile phone thing where you can do anything with it but sit on it...

But do you? 

All I want to do is read a book. In 2011 that puts me amongst the dinosaurs. 

...and ebook readers that only ebook read  are supposedly a bit passe.

I disagree. Price matters, for starters, ( esp to me) and ebook readers are getting much cheaper than their jack-of-all-trades brothers and sisters. You'd hope that an ebook reader would do one task well as its primary function and raison d'etre.

The other issue is a question of what the device will or won't read and if you want an open existence with a free range possibility you won't be going down the Kindle route.

This is where it gets hard to decipher one device from another...even if it has to come down to what you can actually get. 

For me it came down to the Nook versus the Kobo. 


It's cheaper (I bought mine for $AUD131). It isn't tied to a singular bookstore. It reads more formats than the others and is open to a world view rather than be enclosed in the one bookshop chain. 
Although the Kobo is distributed by Borders (who have gone dramatically bust) it is a product developed by a separate Canadian company.
But look at the mathematics of getting an ebook reader ...such as the Kobo:
  • Outlay of $131.00
  • Tens of thousands of downloadable,  totally free books and other text based items across the web. A whole library of classics in text, pdf, epub and whatever else can be read away from the confines of brutal copyright. Try a search sampling.
  • With an online program like dotEPUB I can convert any webpage into ePub format for reading on an ebookery device at my offline convenience.   
  • Browser based web access with wifi (as well as usb).
  • Library fees (see note below) cost.
Click the dotepub link and see: awesome! You quickly get an epub file to read so easily at your own convenience. I've now added the epub option to all my posts.
Is the Kobo the best ebook reader?  I don't know. If I was in the habit of reading newly published best seller books and buying them for a high tech read I'm sure it isn't. But at my niche, entry  level needs it seems to suit.

Nor is Kobo the most technically sophisticated ebook reader...

The knack is, however, that rather than rely on your Kobo software you pair it with the awesome free and open sourced Calibre to help download books and organise your library -- a library that I will be able to access  from one digital place. (By the way, Kobo is based on Linux).

So I'm happy with my choice...I'll be happier when I actually get my hot little hands on the Kobo as none can be purchased within Australia as Borders, the local distributor, have sold out all their stock. (it's like they were marketing their own suicide note). So you need to go offshore to get your Kobo.
Library Fees Cost

I'm primarily a library user and the Brisbane City Council Library Service is an amazing community resource. But the coporatisation of council services has meant that there have been a progressive charge hike for borrowing books. The trick is that if you want specific books you need to place a hold on them and holding books so that you can pick them up when available costs you money as does overdue loans.

Since I have moved 40 kms from Brisbane, picking up and returning books is no longer so straightforward as it was when I lived BCC library local. The inconvenience and cost of my reading habits have  risen as a consequence. 

eBookery therefore looks better and better...

UPDATE: What I'm doing now

While I'm waiting for my mobile reader to arrive I an using Calibre to organise all my reading matter as I expect that I will continue to use Calibre rather than the cumbersome kobo bookshelfing offerings. I also registered and installed Adobe Digital Editions as my local library has an ebook collection running through that DRM licence. Even using Calibre or my Desktop ereader -- the Mac Reader --  reading matters are very easy  in eReader style such that I cannot see myself tolerating any longer all that online scrolling -- I've never become accustomed to --  in order to read large swags of text. With eReaders a page turns with the flick of a few muscles -- a click or a mouse wheel scroll -- back or forth. As I master the online e[ub catalogue I'll have less need to actually physically vist a building to collect hard copies.

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