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  1. #1
    Uh, Moderator
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    eBooks & Readers

    Despite being a bit of a technophile, I have so far avoided eBooks and readers. However, given the pain of lugging half of the Dresden files around South East Asia last year I figured it was time to get on board before I go on holidays again.
    I'm struggling with the array of choices though. First of all, ecosystem. I'm worried about flexibility if I lock in with one, particularly Amazon. I'm not a fan of DRM, and only really started buying music electronically when it was DRM free. The book industry doesn't seem to have gotten to that point yet, so there is a concern for me that I'm going to get lumped with books in a format which is redundant/unsupported in a few years.

    Secondly, devices. I was thinking of buying a Nexus 7 (I'm heavily invested in the Google ecosystem) but am thinking that an e-ink screen and associated improved battery life are a better option for reading. Obviously I don't have the extra functionality associated with the tablet, but I'm wondering if I need it.

    Finally cost of books. Looking at Google Play, Kindle Store and Kobo Whispers Under Ground was $16-18. I just bought the physical book for $7.30 from the Book Depository. Are eBooks consistently priced so high? I don't like the idea of starting to purchase them if it's going to cost me twice as much for books.

    So fellow forumites, I'd appreciate your views and personal experiences on the points I've raised above.

    EDIT: Sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere, my cursory search didn't find much.
    Last edited by Eventine; September 23rd, 2012 at 03:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    In the UK, ebooks are subject to VAT and as such can be a little more expensive than print books via Amazon, but the pricing tends not to be crazy.

    As for DRM - most vendors use one or two types of DRM (can't tell you the kinds, though), but publishers are slowly starting to turn towards DRM-free. Tor US/UK recently went DRM-free (and I was not impressed by Tor UK's implementation), Baen have always(?) been DRM-free (and incredibly reasonably priced) via their Webscriptions service, which also encompasses some publishers like Night Shade Books, and I believe Angry Robot in the UK are also DRM-free, but don't sell in Kindle-supported formats (though do provide links to a programme to convert the files).

    I've never felt too locked in with a Kindle, largely because the Kindle store has quite a lot of titles as it is, but publishers are working on their own methods of provision.

    It's going to take a while for the situation to balance out - there's contracts to be resigned (I believe Bradbury's books became e-format because that was part of the new contract, so it was a compromise for him) and renegotiated, a market to rebalance and so on. But for the foreseeable future I think we're looking at a similar situation to the iPod and the music market. The Kindle will dominate for now, and how long that will be the case I don't know, but I reckon a few years at least.

  3. #3
    Vanaeph Westsiyeed's Avatar
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    I've had a Kobo (was OK) and now Kindle (heaps better, page turns much faster) and I think the e-ink screen is excellent for reading. From what I've read on the topic, the e-ink reader is the best format for reading books. But there's no backlighting so you need light if reading at night.

    I agree with Loerwyn that with a Kindle and Amazon alone you're spoilt for choices. With regards to prices I've found generally they are similar (though like your example sometimes they're way out), but often go the other way too.

    With regards to format, you really don't have any issues - there's free software such as Calibre that will convert files into any other format. DRM can be an issue sometimes, but there is also software that will easily strip it. I've bought a couple of DRM epub books from iTunes so had to strip the DRM and convert to mobi for my Kindle, but this took a couple of minutes.

    As you mentioned, one of the key advantages is travel with an ereader, and the ease of storing multiple (and heavy!) books in one spot (I'm enjoying reading GRRM's Song of Fire and Ice series on mine).

    In summary (and without knowing much about many other ereaders), I think you'd be fine with a Kindle.

  4. #4
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westsiyeed View Post
    As you mentioned, one of the key advantages is travel with an ereader, and the ease of storing multiple (and heavy!) books in one spot (I'm enjoying reading GRRM's Song of Fire and Ice series on mine).
    You're just wandering around with a 90+ device instead of a 9 book

  5. #5
    Vanaeph Westsiyeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn View Post
    You're just wandering around with a 90+ device instead of a 9 book
    A 90+ device that can read hundreds of 9 books!

  6. #6
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westsiyeed View Post
    A 90+ device that can read hundreds of 9 books!
    That is true, of course. It's just more a case of whether you feel safe carting an expensive device around.

    But then again I'll not take my Kindle to work but I'll take my 170 iPod Touch

  7. #7
    A chuffing heffalump Chuffalump's Avatar
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    Trust me. The portability is worth it. I bought a couriers bag specifically sized to take an ereader, wallet, passport, tickets etc. Much easier to get through the x-ray machine without having to empty pockets etc and on a 12 hour flight you don't have to disturb your neighbours by getting up to change books.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the feedback so far everyone. At this stage I'm leaning towards a dedicated eReader rather than a tablet. The main question now is around whether I go for a Kindle or something else (Kobo?). It sounds as if using Calibre removes my concern about ecosystems, so at least that gives me the option of getting the best reader.

    Westsiyeed, have you ever had issues sourcing Australian content?

  9. #9
    Vanaeph Westsiyeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine View Post
    Westsiyeed, have you ever had issues sourcing Australian content?
    Not so far, but to tell the truth a low % of the books I read are by Australian authors. But if there is an e-book version available, you shouldn't have any trouble sourcing it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westsiyeed View Post
    Not so far, but to tell the truth a low % of the books I read are by Australian authors. But if there is an e-book version available, you shouldn't have any trouble sourcing it.
    I'm pretty similar, but know that as soon as I buy an eReader the situation will pop up!

  11. #11
    A chuffing heffalump Chuffalump's Avatar
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    Hal Spacejock was available as an ebook for free and I'm pretty sure that author's Australian.

  12. #12
    Uh, Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuffalump View Post
    Hal Spacejock was available as an ebook for free and I'm pretty sure that author's Australian.
    Ah yes, but just because Australian books are available electronically doesn't mean that the ones I want to read are

    However I suspect this won't be an issue.

  13. #13
    Star Gawker ebusinesstutor's Avatar
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    I primarily use a tablet for my ereading because it also does email, Internet, videos and music.

    But a dedicated ereader is also good because it has longer battery life and is a less expensive gadget to carry around.

    If you like Science fiction and fantasy, Baen books is a great place to go.

    They have a library of free ebooks you can download here:
    http://www.baenebooks.com/c-1-free-library.aspx

    And here are some more of their ebooks you can download
    http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

    Their ebooks are DRM-free. They also do monthly bundles and many of their books sell for about $6 each. Very affordable.

    You can also get thousands of classic books in ebook formats at Project Gutenberg:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/

  14. #14
    I am in a similar position - considering getting an eBook reader because of lack of space (if I kept all the books I bought over the years, I would rival a big library. Alas I keep having to sell off books to fit into my tiny apartment space). I am considering Amazon's Kindle.

    Anyone has NOT been happy with it?

  15. #15
    it could be worse Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker8 View Post
    I am in a similar position - considering getting an eBook reader because of lack of space (if I kept all the books I bought over the years, I would rival a big library. Alas I keep having to sell off books to fit into my tiny apartment space). I am considering Amazon's Kindle.

    Anyone has NOT been happy with it?
    Depends on which version of the Kindle you get. I got the cheapest one and returned it. I read in bed at night, so I needed something I could read in the dark with. Plus, the cheap version ($79 at the time) doesn't have a touch screen and the clicky noise of turning the page bothered my husband as he tried to get to sleep. I ended up getting the Nook with Glowlight (and touch screen). I love it, but while trying to move over my Amazon ebook collection (I previous read using the Kindle app on my iPhone), I discovered what everyone was complaining about in regards to DRM. Some I could convert over to ePUB, some I couldn't. Just something to consider if you buy most of your books through Amazon.

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