Do I Want an eBook Reader

Free eBooksSurely you’ve seen the commercials by now: the happy couple sitting quietly on the beach, each reading on their Amazon Kindle, and you’ve probably given some thought to whether you’d like to have an ereading device, but you’re not sure. A lot of folks feel they wouldn’t be comfortable reading on an ereader, or have concerns about what it does and how it works. Let’s look at some of the most common objections people give for not diving into the ereader market. 1. “Ereaders are expensive.” This is probably the number one reason people give for not buying an ereader, and at their initial offering prices in the $300-$400 range, they were certainly out of reach for most casual readers. But the prices are coming down quickly, and by Christmas this year, you can expect to see readers under $100. Now that still may be prohibitive for some, but consider what you might save on books by investing in an ereader. Currently, many ebooks are still priced as high as their paper counterparts, but there are also worlds of free and very inexpensive books out there–enough to keep anyone reading for a lifetime. If you read one book a week, how much would you save? Instead of spending, say, $7 for a paperback, suppose you chose from the vast array of ebooks that are under $5, paying an average of $2.50 per book. That’s a savings of $4.50 per week, or $234 a year. You would more than cover the cost of the ereader in the first year. 2. “What if there are no ebooks I want to read?” Barnes & Noble boasts over two million titles for its Nook ereader, while Amazon claims more than 600,000. Smashwords offers more than 15,000 books, and Kobo, Fictionwise, and other retailers and independent publishers add to that, and they’re getting more every day. All of the latest bestsellers are out in digital format, and while it’s true that a lot of older books may never be available in ebook format, most of the classics are available to download for free, and a lot of authors are reviving their out-of-print backlist for the ebook market. Unlike paper books, an ebook doesn’t have to be a big hit to stay “in print”. Once a book has been written and edited and formatted for an ereader, there’s no ongoing cost to keeping it around. 3. “Computer screens bother my eyes.” Many of today’s ereaders use a technology called eInk, which is a non-backlit screen type, comfortably readable even in bright sunlight. Most people find it as sharp and clear as a printed page. More importantly, for those whose eyes aren’t as young as they used to be, ereaders offer adjustable font sizing. Instead of buying those expensive and potentially embarrassing large print volumes, or sliding on the dorky reading glasses, an ereader owner can just crank up the font size on his screen until he can easily see it. And, unlike the zoom feature on a computer screen, an ereader will automatically reflow the text, so the user doesn’t have to scroll left or right to see all the words. Free eBooks4. “I just like the way a book feels in my hands.” Well, okay, but how about folks who don’t, like people with arthritis in their hands, or people who like to eat or drink while they’re reading, or who want to read while exercising on a treadmill? Anyone who doesn’t want to have both hands on their book at all times will enjoy an ereader, which can be held with one hand or propped up without falling over or losing the page. 5. “I might lose or break my ereader, and then I’d lose all my books.” It certainly is possible to lose or destroy an ereading device, just as you can lose or destroy a paper book–just ask those unfortunate folks who’ve left one on an airplane, set it on the roof of their car, or dropped it in a swimming pool. Such an incident would require the purchase of a new unit, of course, but the larger retailers will transfer all your previous ebook purchases to any new device you buy, so you don’t lose the books, too. 6. “I can’t share my ebooks or sell them or give them away.” A lot of libraries are beginning to offer ebooks, and some ereader owners exclusivley read these borrowed books. Barnes & Noble has implemented a loan feature on the Nook that allows a user to share a book one time for a limited period with another Nook owner, and Amazon has promised to offer the same in the near future, but besides those options, in general, no, you can’t legally share, sell, or give away your ebooks the way you can a paper book. For those who depend on sharing and reselling as a way to finance their book habits, this is a valid issue. On the other hand, over time, ebooks should be inexpensive enough to make up for some or all of that effect. 7. “Ereaders require batteries.” Yes, they do, but they’re built-in and rechargeable, and used properly, they can last for weeks at a time. You can carry your ereader on safari in the African jungle and never run out of reading material.

Other ereader facts to consider

1. Ereaders are small and light. For the weight of one paperbook book and less than half the size, you can carry your entire library with you wherever you go. 2. Ereaders offer text-to-speech technology. An ereader can read a book to you while you’re driving or walking or lying in the tub. It won’t give you the emotion, accents, or sound effects you might get with a professionally recorded audiobook, but for a fraction of the audiobook price, it’s a nice alternative. 3. Ereaders are mini-PC’s. Though many ereader owners could care a less about these features, most of today’s ereaders offer a limited set of the features we normally get through our computers or phones, such as MP3 players, email and text messaging, and some web browsing. The internet features are available via the built-in wi-fi connections, or on some models, free 3G wireless.

Good enough for ya?

Free eBooksSo, for those who have been resisting the ereader impulse, perhaps you have a better understanding of what an ereader can offer you now. Yes, it is a significantly different experience from paper book reading, but I think you will find the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. If you are interested in trying an ereader, the two most popular models are Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
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