I finally bought an eBook reader. I know that I’ve been writing about eBooks for a few years now, but only just this past week did I finally decide to get a dedicated eBook reader, rather than running an app on my iPad or an eBook reader program on my computer. My initial assessment, which I’ll explain more in a bit, is overwhelmingly positive.
I decided that it was finally time to get one because a few months ago a friend recommended Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I was about to buy a copy when I remembered that it was among the 8 books included with the Humble eBook Bundle, a pay-what-you-want collection of DRM free eBooks I had bought a few months prior and then promptly forgot about. Since I had a copy as an eBook I was going to read it right. Excuse to buy an eBook reader…found!
I had to weigh the positives and the negatives of a dedicated eReader in general and of which one to get, but eventually decided that I would go with a Kindle Paperwhite over a Kobo, a Sony eReader or sticking with my iPad and buying books through iBooks in the future. There were quite a few factors that went into my decision on the kindle. Chief among them were: eBook file formats supported, backlighting, and the possibility of loss of access to books I buy.
One of my primary concerns that I have with a kindle is the lack of support for the epub format. With Amazon eschewing it in favour of mobi and their proprietary azw format I ran the risk of not being able to read any eBook I chose to buy. Epub is by far the most popular format I have come across, so not having support for that is a drawback. If this had been my only concern I would have gone with a kobo but when I thought about it, I realized that amazon’s eBook marketshare is huge, so I probably wouldn’t have too much trouble finding eBooks in formats that work for it, and if I came across public domain books in epub format, there are programs out there to convert them to a format I can use (as long as I am legally allowed to convert the format of the file, of course).
A Need For Lighting
A constant complaint that I hear from people who own ereaders is the lack of backlight, therefore requiring those who read at night to either a) have a lamp nearby or b) buy a clip-on light. From reviews I found on other ereaders, it seemed like the Paperwhite had the best backlight (which Amazon will tell you isn’t a backlight at all but actually a frontlight to which I saw…meh, semantics)
Losing eBook Files
I have to admit, this is my primary concern any time I buy any content digitally rather than in a physical format. I had to decide which marketplace to commit myself to and this can be a bit of a gamble. I wrote a while ago about the possibility of losing access to eBook files you have paid for if the company you buy from goes out of business and this still concerns me. It concerns me when I buy comics from Comixology, it concerns me when I buy videos from iTunes, and it concerns me when I buy eBooks. I have had an iPad for a few years now and in that time have bought only a couple of books from iTunes. Although they were great books and well worth the purchase, I won’t buy any more books from Apple because in order to access these books on an on-going basis I need an ios capable device: an iPad, an iPad mini, or an iPhone. I don’t like the idea of being locked to one company by buying their digital content, though if I have to I will, but to also lock me to one device (or one family of devices in this case)? That’s ludicrous. Let me enjoy the content on other devices if I have paid for it. With Comixology I can read my purchases on my iPad, on my android phone, or on my computer through a browser. With video bought from Apple I can watch it on any computer I can install iTunes on. With music bought through iTunes there is no DRM so I can enjoy it on device that has the right codec to play the file. With a DVD I can play them on any DVD player. That made the decision for me: Kindle it is. I can install a kindle app on my phone or iPad so I’m not locked to one device, and really…I don’t see Amazon going out of business and shutting down their DRM servers any time soon. (Knock on wood)
So there you have it folks, my reasoning for why I a) decided to finally buy an eReader and b) why I went with the kindle. A Kindle is the right decision for me. A kobo is the right device for my mother because she likes the idea that it can be used to borrow books from the library. I don’t personally know anyone with a Sony eReader although according to Wikipedia it has 18% of the Canadian eReader market share, but those of you that do have one, I’m sure it was the right decision for you for any number of reasons.
One final thing though: the main reason why I’m enjoying having a kindle: no more dropping an iPad on my face when I fall asleep if I’m lying down reading.