Friday, August 6, 2010

Reading revolution.

For some time I was contemplating, then researching like mad, the potential purchase of an eBook reader. Two weeks ago I finally did do so… and it wasn’t a Kindle.

I always thought I’d just never get into having a digital reader. I mean, I adore my personal (and quite large) library of books. It’s always been a dream to have a room in my home designated strictly for books and reading. (One day…)

However, as I continued to prepare for moving abroad I kept looking at my bulging shelves of to-read books puzzling over how to manage accessing them once there. Do I re-purchase? Do I ship – there and back? Because books are such an important part of my life, it was a frustrating dilemma.

Somewhere in the midst of that quandary, a digital book reader started to seem like a good option because even if I had to repurchase a book, it would likely be cheaper this way. When considering it a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been an affordable option, but now it seemed it might be.

So, as is my way, I looked into every kind of reader I could discover. I read up on each of them, finding the benefits and disadvantages of each. What I realized was it really is about your personal needs and likes.

I purchased a beautiful Sony Touch eReader. It’s gorgeous. And red. :D (No, being red is not why I got it, but it definitely tilted me in it’s favor!) For me this was ideal. The biggest selling point was that I can underline and write in the margins of each book, which is my common practice, even in novels. But further, it’s fantastic to turn the page with my finger sliding across the screen as it makes it somehow feel more like a real book.

The Kindle wasn’t at all ideal for two reasons beyond not having the options I just mentioned. First, in Europe where I'm planning to move, and elsewhere in the world, to download directly to the device without a computer costs considerably more. And I don’t mind using my computer anyway. Second, and much more vitally, because of Amazon’s proprietary system, you can’t download other forms of eBooks. There are hundreds of thousands of free books on Google Books that the Kindle doesn’t provide access to. To some that wouldn’t much matter, but I enjoy the classics and the majority of them are, in fact, in the public domain and therefore free.

There are other fun features that caused the eReader to outshine the others for me, including the ability to group books in collections, but I think I’ve gushed enough. I will say, when comparing it to a Kindle side-by-side today, the only thing the Kindle seems to score higher on is that it’s screen is ever-so-slightly less glary. I’ve a feeling that has to do with the eReader being a touch screen, because Sony has been making these devices far longer (and is an electronics company rather than a book seller as well) and is therefore quite a bit farther along in perfecting and debugging. Besides, the shine factor really wasn’t such a significant difference and the eReader wins, in my opinion, in every other way.

So for my lifestyle and future plans, the scales just about fell on top of my beloved Sony Touch eReader! As a side note, it’s really kind of great to think about how green this option is. Oh, plus it was on sale!

I never knew how powerful it would feel to carry around a library with me. I swear to you, it’s absurd I know, but I am nearing 800 books – all free one way or another - on the device (in my defense, three authors take up about a third of that number)… and I love that at any time I can access any one of them. Oh, and I’ve been able to find over half of the titles on my shelves for free as well, so I’m overjoyed!

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