Ebooks and Ereaders

How to read ebooks, Part 4: Do you want a dedicated reading device?

This is the (overdue) part 4 of my series of posts on how to choose what you want in a reading device. This particular post’s topic: do you want a device that just focuses on reading books? Or do you want it to do other things as well?

I was pretty happy with my iPhone as a reading device until I got the nook and made a hugely important discovery. The fact that the nook focuses on being a reader, for me, means that it comes closer to the experience of reading a physical book.

The nook does actually have other functionality–it’s got rudimentary web access and a couple of games on it, for example, and you’re supposed to be able to listen to music and audiobooks as well. But since these functions aren’t as obvious as the reading functions, I can pretty much safely ignore them. I don’t have the impulse of “oh hey I’ll just check Facebook/Twitter/my email/whatever for a minute” to distract me from the book I’m reading.

The e-ink screen contributes to this for me as well. I see the e-ink, and it looks a lot more like a printed page to me. So I’m much better able to think of the nook as a “book-like thing” rather than a “gadget I can do various nifty things on”. If I open the nook’s cover, reading will ensue, just like with a printed book.

On the other hand, one of the reasons I resisted getting an ereader for so long was because I disliked the idea of carrying around multiple gadgets. I had already condensed the cell phone, iPod, and PDA I’d been carrying before into one iPhone, and I didn’t want to bump my gadget count back up–extra gadgets, of course, meaning extra things to have to keep track of so that they don’t get lost or stolen as you carry them around.

And there’s also the very real question of budget. If your finances are an issue, you’ll want to think seriously about the dedicated ereaders just because they’ll be significantly cheaper than an iPad or any smartphone that’s also capable of reading books.

In short, what do you need your device to do, and what are you able to spend? The answer to these questions for me was certainly “I want and can afford a dedicated ereader in addition to my smartphone”. For others, it’s a harder call.

But what about if you want to read ebooks even if you don’t have an ereader? Part 5 will be all about how to read an ebook on your computer.

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