E-readers are not a brand-new item, but when the pandemic swept across the country, they experienced a big surge in popularity. Now that we’re past the heights of the crisis, it’s expected that they will remain more popular than they ever were in pre-pandemic days.
More often than you might imagine, people ask me about e-readers, possibly because I’m very open about how important the technology is to me. There are several reasons I value an e-reader.
- When you can’t use two hands, or can’t use them well, it’s hard to maneuver and turn the pages of a traditional book.
- Electronic copies of books are less expensive than traditional copies.
- Extremely convenient to browse a bookstore on a device, buy (or in some cases borrow it) and read it immediately.
- Can send people gifts of books and have them delivered immediately.
- Electronic books will not fill up and clutter your entire home, creating a dust nightmare and fire hazard if you don’t have space for a home library.
- You never have to explain or discuss what you’re reading with strangers if you don’t want to because nobody can see the book cover.
Whether or not any of these reasons apply to you, or you’re just a book lover who wants to try a different experience, I hope some of this information will be useful to you.
Kindle is the most common word used in relation to e-readers. It’s actually pretty synonymous with the item, although it’s really just one variety of many brands and types of e-readers. Since it’s an Amazon product, the strong level of name recognition really isn’t surprising. There are multiple versions of the Kindle, plus Kindle Fire tablets, and the newest version of the Kindle Oasis. Kobo, Nook (which is from Barnes & Noble booksellers), Onyx, Sony and PocketBook all have their own types of e-readers as well.
Screen Type and Size
Regular e-book readers use monochrome e-ink screens to display text. E-ink screens look very much like paper. They use E Ink, which is technology that uses electronic charges to arrange particles into characters, making it look like words typed in ink on paper. E Ink screens reflect light instead of emitting it like LCD displays do. They’re easy on your eyes, even when reading for a long time. On more inexpensive e-readers, screens aren’t backlit. Because of that, you need a light source to enable you to see the text – just like you would need if you were reading a traditionally printed book. When I was researching this article, though, it seems that most e-book readers now include some type of lighting to enable you to read even if you’re in the dark. E-ink is easy to read in bright light of any kind, including sunlight.
If you like to read things other than books, you may want to consider a tablet device with a color display. Magazines, cookbooks and comic books look particularly good on tablets. As another benefit, tablets can browse the Internet for all purposes, stream video, play music, and run all different types of apps. Be aware that the color touch screens on tablets can wash out in certain light. Sometimes, the displays on tablets can show distracting reflections under certain conditions.
The most common display size for e-readers seems to be 6 inches. The Kobo Forma is 8 inches. The new Kindle Oasis 10 has a 7-inch screen. Most of the more recent e-book readers apparently utilized the latest E Ink Carta display technology, which has 300 pixels per inch.
Do you like to read in the bathtub, by the pool or on the beach?
If you’re someone who likes to read in the bathtub, by the pool, or on the beach, or if you have the annoying habit of spilling things, like I do, you may want to think about choosing an e-book reader that’s waterproof. Several of them are, including the Kobo Forma, the Kobo Libra H2O, the recent Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Oasis. No, they aren’t waterproof enough for you to go scuba diving with them or something, but they can all handle some degree of submersion in water. I think it’s a nice touch that the Kindle Oasis has page turn buttons so you can turn pages when your hands are too wet to use a touch screen.
Do you like audiobooks? Have you tried them?
Once in a while I enjoy listening to an audiobook, and having talented narrators bring a story to life with their voices. Many people enjoy doing that while they drive, exercise or do chores around the home.
It’s been brought to my attention that some people like to read and listen to a book simultaneously. I think I’d like to try and do that at some point. I think it would either be pretty cool or really annoying … I’m not sure which!
Kindle devices have the ability to connect to Bluetooth headphones to play Audible audiobooks. Many Amazon books can synchronize with Audible audiobooks on Kindle e-book readers. I’ve noticed it as a discounted option on the purchase page for books. It’s called Whispersync. Onyx e-book reader devices have built-in speakers. They also allow users to utilize multiple audiobook apps.
An e-reader lets you buy and download books from whatever source you use via an Internet connection of some kind. Devices let you achieve that connection at least via Wi-Fi, but some also give you a built-in cellular data option.
It’s impressive how much memory capacity e-readers have. I’ve read estimates that even the smallest capacity e-reader has enough memory to store over 1000 books.
Where do you actually get e-reader books?
Your choice of e-book reading device determines what source you’ll be using to get what your books. If you want to get books through your local Public Library system, the process depends on which e-reader you have. Amazon has you go through a library’s own web site to select books to push to your e-reader. Nook and Kobo have you install library app Overdrive as their store, and you access lending books through that. Onyx has its own library app.
Amazon has a massive library of content. It also has a self-publishing program for e-books, giving it a lot of low-cost e-books that are exclusive to its store. Be aware that Amazon also has a textbook rental program, which college students can use to rent books instead of buying them for college classes.
All of the e-book companies have ways in which you can access at least some books for free. I’ll go into details about how to do that in a separate blog post on another day.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo all use copy protection on their books to prevent them from being read on e-readers from other brands. As I understand it, Onyx e-book readers can run their competitors’ Android apps, enabling users to read content from all.
What I use and a new giveaway
I’ve tried different types of reading devices and personally, I’m partial to Kindle. I have the kindle app for PC on my computer for convenience. I frequently need to use a separate Kindle device, however, for accessing books and manuscripts that are not yet published.
I’ve just acquired the new Kindle Oasis and I’m very pleased with it. As I already mentioned, I have a tendency to spill things, so I really appreciate that it’s waterproof. I also love that it can easily be used one-handed and has page-turn buttons.
I want to give away a Kindle Oasis, and I’ve been trying to decide the best way to do it. Check out the weekly newsletter for subscribers and my social media pages to find out how you can be entered for a free chance to win!