Sunday, September 07, 2008

How do you read ebooks?--veinglory

Back in the day I had a rocket e-book reader. It was kind of like trying to read a book that had been written in HB pencil, on a brick. I chastised myself for wasting money at a time when I really didn't have very much to throw around. I think I still have the charger here somewhere although I eventually threw the rocketbook away.

More recently I bought a Sony ebook reader--which proved to be even more expensive and even more useless. The reading experience was somewhat better, more like it was written in 4B pencil on a cement block, and for a while I was satisfied. But I cannot get the battery to hold a charge. And being on a plane with no books is irritating, but being on a plane with an ebook reader that won't start up is infuriating.

Through all of this I did most of my actual ebook reading on my old workhorse Toshiba laptop. I drag this thing all over the country. It has been dropped on runways, had coffee spilled over it and on one memorable occasion been trodden on by a full grown boar (an actual pig, no metaphor here--fortunately he let me have it back). But as much as I love the thing it is damned heavy and after ot runs for an hour or two you could fry and egg on it.

So I am going to have one more go at finding a good ebook reading device... that will double as a travel laptop. The ASUS EEE PC 4G, it has a 7 inch screen, runs Windows XP and has various other gizmos I haven't had before (webcam etc). Here's hoping for better luck with this device.

What are the rest of you reading your ebooks on, at home and when travelling?


  1. You must have a defective Sony, because their battery life is just as good as Kindle. I can go about a week without charging either, with normal (couple hours a day) use, as long as I don't have the wireless on on the Kindle, which sucks the battery life down.

    I have an ASUS and while I certainly love it, I don't recommend it as an ebook reader because you're tied to the nearest outlet--the battery life is about 2 hours, depending on your settings. It definitely wouldn't get you through most plane rides.

    Despite the fact that I like both the Kindle and the Sony, I still recommend the Ebookwise to people who are looking for an inexpensive, starter reader. In fact, I just bought one for my brother, who fell instantly in love.

    That said, I also read on my iPhone and if someone wanted to buy one of those, I'd recommend the Bookshelf App for reading.

  2. I was just ranting about this myself! I discovered ebooks last fall, and just inhale them.

    I'm boycotting the Sony and Kindle (though I *would* accept one as a gift) because I don't want to be trapped into a restricted format that is dependent upon a single (or very few) retailer. Yes, I love Amazon, but I don't want it to control my access to my drug of choice or the cost of a fix.

    I've cast longing eyes upon the Cybook, but it costs much more than I can justify right now. So...

    I bought a used Dell Axim (cheeep!) and use Mobi. Actually, it's my second unit since November. The adorable kitten terrorist in my house loves to dump cups and glasses, and the first Axim didn't deal well with the water. I don't think I spent more than $45 on either unit.

    It may not work forever, but I'm kind of obstinate (hah! just a little), and won't buy one until I can read everything I want on it.

  3. If the ASUS works out I will be happy to gift my Sony to anyone who thinks they might be able to get it to work properly.

    I have a plan that I think will extend the battery life of the ASUS to cover a few more hours....

  4. Oooh, if you're looking for someone to rid you of your Sony, I'll be happy to take it off you hands!

    Just kidding--the shipping from down under to the great white north would probably be enough to buy a new one, lol.

    The Asus EEE sounds cool--I think I'd want something I could write on as well as read. For now, I'm still reading on my laptop, but it does get a little cumbersome at times, and you're restricted in where you can use it. No bathtub reading for me. :(

  5. I use my mobile phone as a reader. Mine runs Windows Mobile (pardon me while I raise a shield against the inevitable barbs), and I can read just about every format on it.

    My husband devours e-books and reads using his Instinct phone or his Pocket PC. Or, he sits on the couch and reads from his laptop computer.

    Neither of us can see purchasing a standalone reader as that's just one more item to have to keep track if.

  6. I love, love, love my iPaq. Not too heavy, I can do other stuff on it, it has a backlight and using Mobipocket, I can change the font size if I'm feeling old *g*.

    My favorite model is the 3850, and you can pick them up off of eBay for under $100...sometimes significantly less.

  7. I have a a Sony (of my Own-y).

    I love it. I get a month's worth of doctor visits between charges, usually. Unless the visit is one of those "five hours in the waiting room" jobs. Then I only get a couple.

    The only things I don't like are losing the cover art, and the gyrations to get the books on it.

  8. I'm boycotting the Sony and Kindle (though I *would* accept one as a gift) because I don't want to be trapped into a restricted format that is dependent upon a single (or very few) retailer. Yes, I love Amazon, but I don't want it to control my access to my drug of choice or the cost of a fix.

    I swear I'm not an Amazon or Sony pusher, but you're not really that restricted in format use. I buy all my books in LIT, which neither device uses. In fact, none of the devices that I use for reading (Ebookwise, Iphone, Sony or Kindle) use LIT, but that's the format I buy (unless HTML is available, then I buy that). It's just the easiest format to convert to whatever I want.

    In addition, I send the Kindle all of my submissions in .Doc format.

    I guess I don't feel tied to a format by any device. With the notable exception of actually BUYING from Amazon for the Kindle. In which case, yeah, you're stuck with the Kindle. You can't even read it on your computer. So I just don't do that.

  9. Anonymous6:59 PM

    You're also not stuck buying the Kindle format from Amazon, since it's the Mobi (PRC) format. My publisher is AQP and they sell PRC files (which are Kindle-ready) from their own website, as I'm sure many publishers also do. Therefore, you're definitely not stuck shopping at Amazon, but can shop around and find good book sales. LOL

  10. I have a Kindle. I like it a lot. The connectivity feature makes it easy for me to email any document I want to it, and file conversion is cheap (10cents a file.) I could convert the files myself for free but I don't bother.

  11. I have a Kindle and I LOVE it. I've owned several ereaders over the years and for me, none of them even remotely compare to the Kindle. The battery lasts me a week or more, as long as I don't keep the wireless on all the time. And you're not limited to buying books at Amazon...the Kindle will read any PRC file (Mobipocket), which many epublishers sell. Plus, you can convert almost anything to make it readable, and I believe Mobi offers a free software download you can use to convert things yourself. With the Kindle, there's no clunky software to can either download books purchased at Amazon via wireless, or if you want to download PRC files, you simply plug your Kindle into your computer via USB, then drag and drop the files into your Kindle. There's no "syncing" like with most devices. The computer treats the Kindle as a drive and you just drop files into it like you would a flash drive or something. Plus, Kindle isn't just for can subscribe to magazines and newspapers as well. I get the Denver Post and New York Times on mine...downloaded automatically every morning. And because of the wireless, you also have basic web access on the Kindle. I've looked up movie times, Googled, checked the weather, and even visited my own website. The wireless service comes free with the Kindle. No monthly contracts, no fees. You don't have to be in network "hot spots" to use the wireless either. Kindle uses Sprint's EVDO data network like advanced cell phones use. Basically most places you'd have cell phone reception, you can use Kindle's wireless. All the way around, the Kindle for me has been a great experience.

  12. kirsten beat me to it (plus I think the shipping to FL would be as much as shipping to her, so...)

    I don't travel at all these days, plus I just started reading e-books this year, so I have been reading them off my desktop--which is not comfortable, frankly, particularly when reading 300+ in one sitting (which I have been known to do).

    Right now an Asus is winging it's way to me, for the express purpose of reading ebooks. We'll see how well I do with it, since I'm somewhat technoimpaired...

  13. I think you may want to contact Sony about the battery thing Veinglory; I've heard they last at least a week (from more than just Angela).

    I love the look of the Sony, and The Man does too, which goes a long way towards justifying the cost. Mind you...we'd have to share it...

    I want a Asus too, but more because I'm starting school soon and I'd rather carry it around than my Toshiba. Not looking forward to the half-size screen though...

    For now, I read mostly on my Palm Z22. Tiny screen, horrible resolution, battery dependent on use (usually about 4 hours of reading or playing Text Twist).

  14. I will be interested to see how I do on a half-sized keyboard to. And yeah, the 800 word preset screen. Urk. The toshibia is just too heavy and the iphone can't word process. I hope this will be the best, rather than the worst, of both worlds.

  15. I don't.

    I have a combination of medical issues which mean that I don't get on with ebooks, as they are physically harder for me to read than dead forest product. Last month I finally bit the bullet and bought Alex's Cybook at less than half retail price, because my dearly beloved writing partner is a gadget freak and wants to move on to a Sony that will play nicely with her Mac. I like the screen a lot, but it may not be a coincidence that two weeks later I had the worst flare-up of the RSI I've had in a couple of years. (The Cybook is not the only contributing factor here, but it is almost certainly not helping.)

    I will post a review of the Cybook here when I feel up to playing with it enough to write a decent review.

    Note: Charlie Stross, who is the go-to guy in my circle of sf writing friends for informed opinion on shiny toys, was enamoured of the Eee when he got his hands on one, but was rapidly disenchanted because of the battery life. His experience of the Sony on an extended long-haul flight was that it held battery charge very well, so it sounds as if you've got a lemon there.

  16. The hardest thing about typing on the Eee is hitting the up arrow key instead of the shift key and finding yourself typing in the middle of a paragraph. I have a fix for that if someone finds that they need it, just email me.

  17. I know a lot of folks love the Kindle and rave about it at some length. Having used one a bit, I'd say it's pretty good -- I prefer my laptop if there's space, but it's not a bad Plan B.

    I'd definitely not buy any books in Kindle format if you can avoid it, though. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because it's annoyingly DRM'd. I'd go with PDFs (which the kindle can read with some translation) or if you must then in MobiPocket format. (Because it's just HTML wrapped with some binary gook and encryption which has already been broken, so you know that even if MobiPocket dies a horrible death and vanishes you can still read the damn things)