Ebook Readers

Ebooks and ebook readers are becoming increasingly popular these days, so much that only very few books or magazines are published without consideration for an ebook format version.

Ebook readers come on different software platforms and devices. Many come in form of  dedicated devices like Amazon’s KINDLE and Barnes & Nobles (B&N)’s NOOK. These happen to be the major players. Many also come in form of softwares ported for PCs and devices like smartphones, ipad, iphones,etc.

Ebooks files come in a lot of formats. Many of us are familiar with Adobe’s PDF, Microsoft’s DOC and maybe RTF formats.  There are an awful lot more than these with some of them being proprietary like the AZW format for the kindle and Zinio’s ZNO. For a better understanding of this, check out this write-up on Wikipaedia.

A number of companies offer top rate magazines and books for download on PCs. I can not say for sure how Zinio compares to its peers but I’ve actively subscribed to their services for about 3 yrs and it has been a satisfactory experience. However, companies like Amazon and B&N offer similar services and probably have a larger array of  books to offer.

For a number of reasons, i have not really been a strong fan of PC based ereaders;

– Reading from a PC for prolonged period causes eye strain mainly due to its backlight (applies to smartphones too).
– Your PC is not exactly very mobile.

Recently, i went shopping for an ebook reader for myself but like with a lot of people, making a choice could be a little confusing and difficult. I finally settled for ECTACO’s JETBOOK LITE based on the following considerations;

– It was about the cheapest when i got it for about $129.99.The darn thing fell to $99.99 about 3 months later!
– It supports the widest file formats, about twelve.
– It does not have any proprietary restrictions. I could even install some other 3rd party firmwares. Dare you to try that with a Kindle!
– Easy access to ebooks.

A note of warning, most ebook readers support the Pdf format but due to screen limitations, they are not rendered well on screen. There will be some inconveniences reading such files except you can settle for bigger screen but less portable readers like the Kindle DX. You may, however, decide to convert the PDF files to other formats using software converters like Calibre.

There is a price war going on at the moment, the prices are fallen drastically and i dare say this is the best time to pick up one of these gadgets, it sure beats stacking up all those hard cover novels. At the moment, i have well over 2000 books on my ereader. How many i have read is another story…

Some people still have reservations about ebook readers in general but one thing i can say for sure is that it has indeed revived my book reading habits!

PS: You may have issues purchasing books online in Nigeria with your credit cards for obvious reasons. B&N does not allow Nigerian cards at all, while Amazon may. Just try your luck. There are tons of sites where ebooks can be bought and probably more where you can get them for free.

20 thoughts on “Ebook Readers

  1. each time i hear people say they actually pay for ebooks, i am surprised!

    i am even more amazed when i read that you paid good money to purchase an ebookreader!

    there is sooo much free ebooks on the net about every subject under the sun – that i have never found it necessary to purchase an ebook.

    like you, i have more FREE ebooks than i can read. got free from the internet. one of my favourite site is 4shared.com.

    as for buying a dedicated eReader, not me!

    i prefer to use a large_screened TOUCHSCREEN smartphone that has a tv-out functionality. i like to convert my pdfs to text format. i then use any of the numerous FREE text readers (my favourite being ZXReader). it is a strategy that works very well for me o! i also occasionally use Adobe reader..

    no eye strain (i can change foreground/background colours as necessary, as well as the display brightness level of my reading device. i mostly connect my smartphone to a widescreen tv (when not on the road)..

    or, am i missing plenty taking this path of extreme frugality?

  2. Wao, eyebeekay,it seems you feel very strongly about your views.
    Before i proceed,you may have noticed that the intention of this site is to stay clean, if i were to delve into the world of hacks,cracks and illegal downloads, i would long have exceeded my disk quota with my webhost.
    Two years ago,my write-up would have been very different from what i published.Like they say,a lot of water has passed under the bridge.Summarily, my choice of a dedicated device is personal having had a taste of the two. I have used a Jasjar and XDA Flame, which are probably among the biggest screen phones made.
    Firstly, talking about ereaders, i'm sure there are very few 5 inch smartphones, if at all, and to me, the screen estate matters when viewing ebooks on mobile screens.
    Secondly, the backlight on your phone is a silent devil. I started using glasses over a year ago, no thanks to years of misuse.
    Thirdly,i feel dedicated devices are more suited as ebook readers.

  3. @ EyeBeeKay: I agree with you. Ebooks are everywhere…if you seek them, you will definitely find them..lots of them, much more than you can read.

    Your solution of using the TV out functionality looks great but it defeats the mobility advantage of the ebook readers.

    I currently use HTC Touch Diamond 2, which has a fairly big display for a smartphone (3.2 inches; 480×800 pixels). It works fine for ebooks with a few pages but anything other than that, it becomes very clumsy. I'm currently reading an ebook of about 500 pages and it would be a punishment to read all that on my HTC.

    I'm always on the move and I love to read "on-the-go". I like to maximise my waiting times in transit.

    I dislike tablet PCs, my smartphone display isn't really convenient and my laptop isn't exactly portable; so basically, I'm inclined to buying a dedicated ebook reader. I have my eyes on the Kindle (lovely design & price has been slashed last week).

    So, for the sake of convenience and mobility, I would argue that buying a dedicated ebook reader may not be a bad idea after all.

  4. no i havnt. i dont know anyone that has a dedicated ebook reader n i probably wont see d advantage in getting one until i actually use. i shld note at dis point that my post should have began with “i had…”. my itouch also has died (very recently) or at least, is in a comatose state. only shows a white screen that flickers at times when i put it on. is dat wat u mean by WSOD? only know of windows BSOD

    1. it is the same problem mine has. I have restored to factory setting, upgraded to ios 4, no show. Tried all the online tips i could find, no luck.

      Why not go to youtube, there are some videos there on how to restore your device, it worked for some people.

  5. i have an apple ipod touch which i use as my ebook reader. The ebook app Stanza on the iOS is an excellent ebook application. I just sync books to it wirelessly via Calibre (which was mentioned in the post) n i'm golden. it also has a kinda store feature where i can purchase books from locations such as O'rielly and others. it also has books from self publishing sites and even the Guttenberg project. My thirst for everything sherlock holmes was easily quenched. the screen of the itouch is fairly large so there is no squinting involved and i can increase the font size as much as i want, change background, e.t.c. instead of buying a dedicated ebook reader, i would rather go for a device that also has ebook functionality such as a tablet. (not d ipad though. i've had enough of apple BS n it will be almost useless to me in Nigeria anyway.)

    1. Hi Muyiscoi, have you given any of those dedicated ebook readers a try? Maybe you should, the experience is different. I do (did) own an ipod touch too (it got infected with the dreaded white screen of death and has refused to resurrect), and there is a big different. What i really enjoyed on the ipod touch was the audiobook, used it a lot in my car.

  6. I find this post very useful.
    I have been thinking about buying an eBook reader for a while now.
    The choice of what to buy is one thing, but most importantly I’m looking for something that can bridge the gap between an Ipad and an eBook reader.
    The Ipad is on the expensive side, especially when you want to add the Bluetooth and wifi, it might cost up to $600. I wish the eBook reader on the other hand can do more than just books.
    I actually heard from reliable sources that other versions of Ipad (from other manufacturers) will soon be out. These would be a lot cheaper; I’m waiting until fall to see what happens.

    1. I understand your view, why shell out money just to buy a device you can only "read" from?

      One thing you must always remember is that the ipad is not a dedicated reader and it was not made as such or is it being passed off as one. The highly relective screen of the ipad, the 10 hour battery life and the backlight will make it only attractive to very casual readers. The E-ink technology used in ereaders screens, like the Kindle, ensures the battery stays as long as 14 days with constant use. Moreso, the portability (pocket size) and the cheapness ($139 for a Kindle), makes it increasingly attractive.

      Steve Jobs really got it wrong when he said "people don't read anymore". I'm sure he knows better now, not with the huge numbers of ebooks being bought or downloaded from torrent sites.

      To help you a little in your decision, check out this link. (Note the price of the Kindle, it is no longer correct)
      http://gizmodo.com/5495946/ipad-alternatives-the-

  7. Here’s something to consider when choosing between a kindle and a nook.

    The nook has a microSD drive and removable battery, while the kindle doesn’t. The kindle has an online library to replace the SD drive.

    Secondly, the nook supports almost all ebook formats while the kindle supports and is made solely for amazon ebooks.

    Amazon currently has about 700,000 ebooks while the nook has over a million.

  8. Thats cool, i mean the Nook. The Kindle online stuff may not be too workable in Naija here. The removable battery is also a plus.

    Guess you are thinking of picking up one, which side are you tilting? The Nook?

  9. @Slam Dunk, Kindle & Nook are the top two contenders. I think it's best to try out the two devices at a store to guage your preferences before settling for one. I'm looking at buying an ereader in October myself; still undecided on what to buy between the two. I'm tilited to the $139 Kindle though. Pls let me know your experiences when you eventually buy yours

  10. Wale, i'm curious about your ebook device. Can it play music files while you're reading with it?

    I was thinking of buying the Sony PRS-600 some weeks ago when suddenly Sony, Kindle and B&N's nook engaged in a price-reduction war. I've been waiting ever since.

  11. I’ve been browsing the Jetbook site and love the fact that it has the largest range of ebook formats. i hate it when companies try to monopolize their devices by narrowing the range of options on the device. That’s why i dislike Apple and Amazon, esp Apple.

    The Jetbook Lite costs about $150 while the Jetbook mini is $100 [only pre-orders available for now]. Please how did you order it? A lot of websites use only Paypal which completely ignore Nigerian cards.

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