Sunday, October 17, 2010

TSS: Adventures of an e-reader reader

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had bought an e-reader. I have used it a bit more now, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a bit more of a look at my reactions to the e-reader experience, albeit a bit tongue in cheek.

Here are the advantages so far:

1. Reading on the train - When you are forced to stand for some or all of your homeward bound train journey, it can be awkward to read a book, especially at that moment when the ride is a bit bumpy and you need to turn the page. Letting go of the pole, turning the page and then finding your grip again can be a little problematic! Not so with the Sony Touch e-reader because you can hold the device and turn the page with the button with the thumb, leaving you free to hold on for dear life.

2. Reading on the train (ii) - It doesn't matter what you are reading, whether it be a very staid classic, or the steamiest erotica novel, you don't have to worry about what the cover looks like because your fellow passenger would have to be paying marked attention to be able to tell exactly what you are reading!

3. Reading in bed - One of the reasons I put off buying an e-reader was because I couldn't imaging curling up in bed holding an e-reader, but it is actually better, especially in winter. When you are reading a book in winter, one hand gets really really cold because it is outside the covers holding the book and the other gets a bit cold from turning the page. With the e-reader, only one hand has to get cold!

4. Changing text size - The other day I went out at lunch time and somewhat forgetfully left my glasses on my desk. Normally that would mean that I just wouldn't read because my eyes would get sore, but with the e-reader, just change the text size and voila! I can see without glasses! Of course it does mean that you have to turn the page more regularly!

This to this at the click of a button!

5. Contests - Over the years I have won quite a few e-books in contests, with every intention of reading them, but it was always too hard on the computer. I have finally started reading these books.

6. Freebies - If you keep an eye out there are a bunch of freebies around available to download, from short stories by favourite authors, to books by new to you authors. This includes some fab options available through NetGalley.

7. Prestige - I have been showing off my toy to lots of my reader friends, and they have all been super impressed. The non-readers are probably a bit sick of hearing about it.

8. Buying books - I deliberately made the decision not to get a reader that I could connect to the internet and buy books instantaneously because I wanted that buffer between when I started thinking I might want a book to the point where I actually purchased the book. I am not sure that buffer is sufficient because I have bought a heap of books this month, and not only e-books. At this stage I definitely don't see e-books completely replacing paper books, but definitely providing another option.

9. Keeping the charge - So far I have only charged up my e-reader once, but that wasn't because it needed it. It was still around three quarters full, but I wanted to transfer some books so I plugged it in and left it in for a while.

There are some disadvantages:

1. Reading on the train - I am a bit nosy, and like to take a quick look at what other people are reading. If everyone starts using an e-reader I am not going to be able to do that anymore!

2. Author signings - I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I went to an author event. Whilst it was fun showing off my new gadget to the friend I went with, it became obvious that the e-reader is likely not going to cut it when it comes to getting your book signed. I did see someone suggest that you could get the model I have signed using the notes facility and stylus included but it's not quite the same! Besides, I haven't really played with the notes and stylus just yet.

3. Reading the last page - I have long been one of those readers who at some point or another will skip to the end of the book just to see what happens on the last couple of pages. I know it isn't impossible with an e-reader, but it is certainly more difficult.

If I get a little more serious for the remainder, I honestly have thoroughly loved my e-reader experience so far.

There are definitely still issues that need to be resolved, but I am sure that will happen in due course. One of the most frustrating at this time has been the regional rights issue. For example, a couple of weeks ago I had decided exactly which book was going to be the first ebook that I actually purchased. When I went to a specific site, I couldn't find the book when I searched. I mentioned this on Twitter, and one of my lovely fellow bloggers tried searching for the same book and came up with a link. She lives in Japan, and could buy the book, but as an Australian reader I can not. These difficulties seem to be especially relevant to new releases.

Once I have actually purchased a book though, I haven't had trouble transferring to my computer and then to the ereader itself, which I know can be a bit problematic. Fingers crossed it stays working.

Before I started seriously looking for an e-reader, I used to glaze over at the plethora of blog posts about e-readers etc. Now I am thinking I should have paid a bit more attention because I am not sure that I understand DRM, let alone why so many people strip it from their ebook purchases.

Bernadette from Reactions to Reading has also written expanding on her experiences of being a newbie e-reader user recently.

So far I am more than happy with my decision to purchase a Sony Touch e-reader, and I really can't see that changing any time soon.

And now I am going to spend the rest of my Sunday afternoon snuggled under the blankets with my ereader!


  1. DRM is a straight pain in the butt. If a publisher hasn't bought international rights or bought them for Europe and the US but not Australia, that means we can't read them. It's a heap of bullocks in its current form because it means honest, non-pirate readers have to either forgo the book or become a pirate and find out where to send the author some money. (At WorldCon in September, this issue came up and a few people said they actually sent money.)

    That's one thing that makes me shy about buying an ereader, but really... I've won so many ebooks I want to read but don't because I spend most of the day on the computer for work and much of the night on there writing my own books.

    That's part of the reason why the make your text bigger (!) appeals to me on readers. Sometimes large text makes my eyes so much happier... :)

    Thank you for the recap. I'm still looking at options (aka possible Christmas pressies :P)

  2. Oooh, you have a red ereader. Pretty!:) It's been almost 2 years since I'm using my Sony and I'm very happy with it. There's some frustrations, like not being able to actually buy an ebook from the Sony Ebook Store because I live in France...
    The ebook prices can sometimes be rather surprising. After so much discussion in the internet world, I still have troubles understanding how ebooks can be more expensive than the paper version.

  3. Great post! I've had my Kindle for a little less than a year, but it's made my life so much better (not to mention kept my bookshelves less cluttered). I still read plenty of paperback and hardback books- in fact despite a heavily loaded Kindle, I ended up reading only my paperback pile for Readathon.

    The favorite part of my Kindle for me? Being able to read really long books without dislocating my thumbs, and being able to take it everywhere. If I'm in line, I whip it out and start reading.

    I do have free internet on mine, and you're right. It's a little dangerous. But if I'm browsing in a bookstore it's nice to know the price difference right then and there. If it's a huge difference, then I buy the cheaper one, unless it's a cover I can live without.

  4. great post - your negatives list (can't spy on what people are reading) made me laugh a little, because that's one of my favorite things to do.

    i've got a kindle and it's great for my situation because i'm living in a country where it's really difficult, and really expensive, to get english-language books. but as you note this can be a pain when it comes to buying books. i've done some questionable things, like toggling my "location" on my amazon account from america (home), macedonia (current home) and england (uh...grandma's home) in order to buy the books i want that are only available as e-books in certain countries. if you've got a ready address to "borrow" in another country, maybe this is something you can try too. (but don't say this was my idea.)

  5. I'm on my second eReader. I love them for the reasons you do (plus traveling), but each one has had things I didn't like. I'll likely be buying more in the future as technology and features change.

  6. I agree with your reasons for loving it - I'm also fairly new at this ereading thing (I've had mine for 1 1/2 months) and so far the ways I like it have surprised me. I have never actually changed the text size, but it's so convenient to read in bed and while eating, as long as I'm careful. I don't see it replacing books but it is definitely really nice to have. I have the 3g kindle so I can buy books anywhere, but I actually haven't bought one from the device yet. I buy them on the internet just like I always did before, although I haven't bought many since I'm mainly reading Netgalley ARCs on it.

  7. I love my Nook too. I haven't been using it much lately since I have a ton of library books out at the moment, but I have two trips coming up and it will be put to great use then. It's great for travel.

  8. I love the fact that I can read erotica on the train and no one has a clue. The best is vacations - no more loading your luggage up with 10 or more books when you go away - instead I have 50+ on one little device that weighs the same as a trade paperback (let's not talk about my TBR pile, though. Totally out of control).

    I have a "flip style" case for my Kindle. It's like an easel. You flip it open and can prop it up on a table (or on your stomach if you are in bed or in a chair) and read hands free, except for having to change pages. Mine is from Javoedge. I'm not sure if they make similar cases from Sonys, but if not, I'm sure someone does.

  9. Ooh, I would want a red one, too; had a red cell phone once.

    I like the idea of being able to read comfortably in bed; especially with the thicker books, since they become heavy when I hold them.

    Your list was excellent! I'll have to reconsider my decision NOT to buy one.

    Here's my salon:

    Click on my name....

  10. I certainly agree with your point about reading the last page. I don't read the last page, but I like to know when the chapter I am reading now will end (do I have time to finish it or should I get dressed for work and then read it later?) I also like seeing what other people are reading - if everyone moves to a reader, that's not possible (Aren't we being selfish? LOL!) Great post!

  11. Another convert! Glad you are enjoying the ereader experience. I love my Sony, too, and I do confess to reading more junk food type reads with my ereader. If the table of contents has been formatted properly it is actually very easy for me to use the back button on my Sony Pocket reader and skip to last chapter when the overwhelming urge to peek ahead strikes.

  12. I recently bought a Kindle, even though I'm a big anti-ebook person (don't think that will change, whatever happens!). I got it mostly so I could easily read books from NetGalley, and I've downloaded so free trashy novels from Amazon too.

    The funny thing is, I haven't even used it yet! I've got several books on it to read but I keep forgetting I have it, and it hasn't solved the problem of all the "real" books I'm currently reading and need to get through!

    I'm like you - every time I see a person on the subway (or off it) reading a book, I HAVE to see what it is! Once I sat next to a man who was using a Nook or Kobo or something, and I kept glancing at the screen to figure out what it was - when I saw the word "Millennium" I knew he was reading Girl with a Dragon Tattoo or one of the others, but it just wasn't as nice to look at.

    Oh, one thing I don't like about e-readers: you can't flip through the pages, like when you need to go back to a previous scene to check a detail, or when you want to flip to the map at the beginning in a fantasy book (I won't be reading fantasy on my kindle, but I can see it as a problem). I like being able to go wherever I like in a book, whenever I like.

  13. I have an ancient e-reader (eBookwise) and although I'm looking into a new one because it's getting harder and harder to find new content for it, I really hate to give up the one feature it has that the new e-ink technology can't support--back lighting. Not only can I curl up in bed and read one-handed under the covers, but I don't have to turn on a light. I can adjust the contrast on my reader so that there's just enough light to read when I wake up at 2 AM.
    "Regular" book lights are too bright in the middle of the night.

    And the luxury of not even having to reach up and turn off a lamp if you're reading before you fall asleep.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  14. One of the reasons I haven't bought an e-book reader yet is that I've been concerned about the battery life; neither my laptop nor my cell phone will hold a charge for very long. About how long is your Sony supposed to be able to go between charges?

  15. Funny that this post should come up today, as I just downloaded a book I couldn't wait for and read the entire thing in one sitting. I am slowly becoming more enamored of my e-reader, and finding that it really is a lot more convenient and cool than I had originally thought. Glad to see you are liking yours as well!

  16. So glad you're enjoying your new gadget Marg, me too. Now when I see someone with an eReader on the bus I just make up a story in my head about the inappropriate book they must be reading :)

  17. Oh and I'm glad your eReader has stopped you going to the last page - naughty habit :)

  18. I am pretty much having an elicit affair with my e-reader :)

    Absolutely love it.

    I recently was able to join up to an interstate library in Aus and borrow eBooks via overdrive, works like a charm.

  19. I'm glad you are liking your ereader. The regional rights thing is frustrating for me too, in Canada with my Kindle. Other than that... love my ereader :)

  20. Great post. I'm getting an e-reader for Christmas but still can't decide between a Sony and a Kindle!

  21. I love points (1) & (2). When I used to commute by train in brisbane I had the same problem of turning a page when I was standing up, so hard to do! Plus everyone tries to peek at the covers :)

    Awesome post!

  22. I have only very recently begun considering getting an e-reader seriously. I'm leaning toward Barnes & Noble's Nook, for price, mostly. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough list of advantages and disadvantages! Every post I read on the subject nudges me a little closer to taking the plunge.

  23. A very well-thought out analysis of the pros and cons of an e-reader. I am considering getting the Apple iPad for Christmas, though I'm told it's not too great as an actual e-reader. Might opt to wait for the next version of it.

    PS. I, too, LOVE to look around me and see what people are reading on the train. Just like how I love to see what people are purchasing in bookstores! God forbid it be something even remotely historical in nature and the poor folks have to hear me yammering on about what I thought, or what this bloggy friend thought, get the picture :) Hey, can't help it if I love to talk to people about books! It can't always all be contained to the internet, can it?

  24. I bought the new Kindle with 3G about 6-7 weeks ago and am enjoying it though so far it's only my out and about read. It's the one I take with me to read in all those moments I find myself waiting, while at home I'm still reading paper books. BUT today, I was heading off for my regular weekly lunch - at which I usually arrive early so always get a bit of reading time - and went to get my Kindle only to find the battery had run out. Just as well I had a "real" book to take instead. The real test will be in 10 days when we go to Hong Kong for a week. That's what I really bought it for - for travel.

    So far I'm using it for free books - mostly classics, so haven't got caught up in all the DRM stuff which does seem to be very irritating if we Aussies want to use it for contemporary fiction.

    Oh, and I do like reading it far more than I expected.

  25. LOL - I take the train to and from my office downtown 3 days a week so I'm nodding to myself as I'm reading your 'reading on the train' points. All are very very true. One day a couple of weeks ago I was on the train home and realized that I had my nook, the woman next to me was reading on a sony e-reader and the guy across the aisle was reading on a Kindle.

    It hasn't slowed down my purchasing of paper books at all. For the past couple of years I have pretty much limited my purchases to books that both The Hubster and I will read or books I particularly want to have on the shelf. My nook is great for egalleys or books The Hubster won't read, and since I'm already a heavy user of the library I'm thrilled to have a library system with a great ebook selection.