eReaders and eBooks

If you love to read, an eReader might be a right gadget for you. Here’s couple of quick points about it.

Which one to choose

I personally avoid Amazon (there’s something sinister about them) and hence for me, Kindle was out of the question. Following a debate on reddit I’ve decided to get Kobo Aura HD, which is still not perfect (when it comes to privacy) but it’s close enough.

From technical point of view, Aura offers everything you’d expect on an eReader: WiFi, front-light, Pocket integration*, and a good display (212-ppi); it’s also relatively fast and responsive.

If you decide and go with Kindle, at least try not to lock yourself into their ecosystem (see Where to get eBooks? section of this post).

* If you’re ready to sacrifice some privacy.

How does it compare to a Tablet

It doesn’t actually. It’s a different device meant for different purpose. You cannot event browse Internet with it (there’s no JavaScript support), and obviously there’s no applications, no video nor audio support; it’s literally meant just for reading.

Some good things comes out of this:

  • e-Ink display offers drastically better readability, especially in a bright sunlight. There are debates whether e-Ink is better for eyes than backlid display. I personally prefer it, and feel more comfortable reading from it.
  • The device is small, light and pleasant for holding, even for long periods of time.
  • The battery life is very good (I’m talking weeks here).
  • No camera or microphone. I personally feel more relaxed, knowing no recording sensors are present. I feel discomfort if a camera is constantly facing me. It’s a question of privacy, possible abuses, and in general (subconscious) discomfort.
  • Finally, it’s relatively cheap.

Where to get eBooks

Not on Amazon. Those have DRM, and you most likely don’t want that. Here are some alternatives:

  • try to buy books directly from author, if that’s possible,
  • see if eLibrary is available in your country,
  • many of the old classics are available for free on Gutenberg Project.
  • see Guide to DRM-Free Living: Literature on Defective by Design.
  • Finally if book is really not available anywhere else, buy it in paper form.

Don’t support DRM versions. If you’re stubborn and decide you will anyway, there’s a plugin available for Calibre which will allow you to remove DRM; I’m pretty sure that’s not legal though, so do it at your own risk.

How to manage eBooks

Don’t keep eBooks only on your reader, make a copy on PC and possibly backups. Use software like Calibre to manage your library.

Which format to choose

I’d recommend EPUB, a free and open e-book standard, which is designed for reflowable content, meaning that an EPUB reader can optimize text for a particular display device. PDF might be slower and look worst on an eReader. Mobi (.mobi) is not Open standard (if that matters to you).

Conclusion

Buy eReader only if you’re reading a lot, and even in such case, keep your paper books. It’s nice to have a collection of (physical) books so consider buying those, which you really like, in a paper form. If you wanna go down the DRM road, for the love of all that is good and holy, please don’t.