Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Have e-Readers Arrived?

Last month, I tried my first e-Reader. I've read e-books on my PC for a few years, but hadn't tried a portable e-Reader until last month I took a Kindle for a test drive. Reading my comrade Bargainista's blog, she just got her hands and eyes on the latest e-Reader to hit Canada, the Kobo. Check out her blog post for an excellent review of Kobo.

I replied to her post about my first experience with portable e-Readers, which I included below. I'd love to know if anyone feels that my concerns have been resolved with other or newer tech, or any other thoughts about e-Readers.

I'd love to try a Kobo to see if the e-reader technology has improved. I tried a Kindle last month - granted it was a year old (so newer models might be better) - and I was really underwhelmed. I like to read with really high contrast, ie. black type on white is ideal. With the Kindle is was like black on grey. Also, the font size seemed to arbitrarily set a limit that was still not sufficient for people with visual disabilities. Trying to find a range of books (or any) in large print is next to impossible - so I thought these e-book reader companies would capitalize on that (literally - there's definitely money to made from people who need this feature).

The user experience was otherwise okay. I like the ability to add notes as I have never been able to bring myself to vandalize my own books by scribbling notes in the margins or highlighting.

I'm certainly running out of room in our house to store print books. As it is all pulp fiction we buy are given to Goodwill after reading as we have no room to store them. Now with my daughter starting to read, we're buying her lots of children's books. I can imagine it will be a long time (who knows, it'll probably be just five years) before e-Readers can offer full colour as the artwork in young kid's books is probably the most important criteria. Not to mention with comic books. Still, I'd love to have all the books we love without them taking up so much space.

But price is the big stumbling block for me (once readability improves, that is). E-books are roughly the same price or maybe $1 or $2 cheaper. But with print I have something I can share with friends and don't have to worry about the format becoming obsolete (like all our VHS movies).

Most importantly, considering my propensity to spill coffee, drop and lose thing, my accidents are not such a big deal when it's a $10 book vs. $150 e-reader.

I don't want to sound like a luddite curmudgeon or print fetishist, more like a poor-sighted cheapskate.


Bargainista said...

Glen, I'm glad you enjoyed my review and you've left some food for thought here. I think you really need to get your hands on a few different eReaders to see what you think first hand. There are also lots of online reviews about eReaders.

One of the formats we didn't address was the audiobook. Although I'm not big of them for fiction, I occasionally I'll download a business book onto my iPod and list to it on the subway or long road trips.

They're not cheap and they still don't replace the printed page but they will help remove the clutter from your home.


Glen Farrelly said...

Hi Eden:

I would love to get my hands and eyes on some new e-Readers. Why is it one can test drive a new car but not new gadgets. I wished I had test drived my BlackBerry with Bell, as boy is it a huge disappointment on many levels.

Yeah, there are reviews and they do help. Several reviews of our new Blu-ray player said that the lack of an eject function on the remote was annoying, and I didn't believe them. I should have as while on the first day it doesn't seem a big deal, it is annoying day-after-day.

So yes reviewers help but there's nothing like trying something out for a couple days.

I'm sure within a year (or two) all my concerns about e-Readers will be history (except the prices of e-Books, I think they'll remain high for several reasons.)