I couldn't live without... My eReader close
This month… Kevin Danaher, Project Manager
What couldn’t you live without?
Although I now tend to cycle everywhere I used to train and tube my way around London most of the time. One thing essential to me for my daily commute when that's the case is my eReader.
In a nutshell, what is it?
A mobile device that lets you carry your entire personal library with you and read it on the go.
Why does it rock your world?
I read a LOT and have shelves and boxes full of books. My library used to be heavily weighted towards physical books but in recent years it's slid the other way and I probably have more virtual books now that physical ones. Coming from a serious bibliophile that's a huge difference in my mode of reading but one I'm happy with. I'd have needed a car to take my library with me before eReaders existed.
What’s your favourite feature?
Well there are two actually.
Storage space - eBooks are really small, usually between 500Kb and 3Mb, which means even the cheapest eReader with a small amount of storage could easily hold hundreds. You really can carry your entire book collection with you in this way.
eInk - Since it's inception eInk has been pretty groundbreaking, giving eReaders the ability to render text as clearly as on a written page. Nowadays however it's come into it's own with the latest generations of eInk being extremely sharp and crisp and rendering page turns faster than you could turn a physical page. eInk is also the magical ingredient that gives eReaders that 1-2 month battery life, this is because the molecules that make up the black and white parts needed for the page are set into a position and then no further charge is needed until a new page is shown. Here's a handy video to demonstrate how this works:
What makes it unique?
Well it's actually less and less unique as more people now carry tablets with them so they can use an eReader app on those just as easily. The big differentiator is the eInk display as I mentioned a moment ago, giving crystal clear printed quality text and enormous battery longevity.
Does anything let it down?
Well if you've ever tried using an eInk screen for anything other than reading you'll know. The kinds of displays we usually use for those tasks (web browsing, etc.) are LCD's which are "live" so if the image changes it's instantly reflected on the screen. The refresh rate of the image data is so high you don't notice any delay, it just happens as you do it. eInk, however fast it's now become, will never achieve that as it does involve realigning the molecules in the "page" and therefore there's always a slight delay. This doesn't let it down for it's purpose in any way though, but you probably shouldn't use it for anything other than eReading. If you want to do more get a tablet and you can mix it up.
Any secret tips for new converts?
Two websites that will serve you really well and keep you entertained for hours are:
Project Gutenberg - Books have a sell by date you know. If publishers don't refresh their rights they eventually become public domain and are free for all to use/copy as they wish. This project aims to collect all those books in a digital format. You won't find any New York Times best sellers but it's packed with classics which you've probably always thought you should read anyway... Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, Pride and Predjudice? There are over 40,000.
Mobileread Forums - If you want the best tips and tricks for using your eReader, hacking/customising your eReader or just to talk about eBooks then this is the place to be. I guarantee if you have a question that someone here has asked it before, so go and take a look. The community are real pros about eReading and everything to do with it and always happy to help out.
And finally one piece of software that will make a huge difference to your eReader life, Calibre by Kovid Goyal
Written from scratch by a man who has an unparalleled understanding of eBooks and all their requisite formats it's the most functional eReader management software available and what's more, it's free. Feel free to make a donation of a few dollars to Kovid if you like it though as he puts a lot of time and effort into this project.
Where can I find it and can I afford it?
That completely depends on your budget and what you want.
Rather than me trying to weight all this up for you how about looking at the comparison chart on www.the-ebook-reader.com. They always keep it up to date and it gives you a great idea of the best options currently.