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How to choose an eReader


There is an excellent forum at mobileread.com that covers just about any problem you could possibly encounter with eReaders, eBooks, conversion software etc. and wikiHow has a well-written article on choosing an eReader, but here are some observations from my own experience.

There is an ever-changeing range of devices that you can use to read an eBook. Every person uses theirs in a different way. I have yet to meet an owner who is not evangelical about the superiority of their own device. Nor have I met any who regretted buying one.

The most important aspects you need to consider are how, and where, you will use yours. At home, on the move, on the beach, in a cyber cafe? Do you need long battery life? The ability to read in sunshine or in the dark? Do you need it to fit in your pocket/handbag/briefcase? Will you run out of books or need to pick up emails outside your living room?

Memory size and how you buy eBooks are not generally an issue, despite what you may be told in-store.

Once you have decided how and where you will read the best place to start is to find someone who will let you try theirs out for an hour. Failing that, go to High Street stores and play with the ones on display, bearing in mind that they often only have free, badly-made books on them and, clamped to the security system, weigh more than they do in real life.

None is all things to all people and it depends where you live how much choice you have. It boils down to

1. One of the Kindles
2. Another brand of dedicated eReader
If you are in the UK, this is currently one of the Kobos, everyone else seems to have given up. "Which" magazine calls them "a worthy competitor to Amazon's Kindle" and I agree.
3. An expensive tablet

A cheap tablet is not an option, eBooks work on them but they all have a woeful battery life and the screen has the wrong proportions, whichever way you hold it. The same is true of most mobile phones. If you can afford an iPad, install the Kindle app and books with colour and illustrations look spectacular, but it does strain your eyes after a while. Apple iBooks (now called Books) is better at understanding how the book is formatted but you are stuck with whatever size it thinks pictures should be.

Whichever you choose, play about with the settings until you find the most comfortable font style and size. Some readers also allow you to change the margin size and the justification. Often the factory settings are odd, removing all the publishers careful styling for example. This is particularly true of some of the more obscure free software that you can install on PC's and tablets.

The biggest myth of all is that once you have 'gone over to the devil' you can never go back to print. If you love reading you will love the convenience - on the beach, on the bus, waiting at the dentist - you now have not just just one, but as many old favourites and new releases as you can afford, in one convenient place. It's a different way of reading, not the only way.

Finally, buy a cover or a case. You do not need to pay more than you paid for the machine, a cheap 'sock' will do the job, but they do need some protection when not in use. And read the friendly User Manual, the quick-start guides are sometimes more confusing than helpful. You can download most Manuals before buying anything, if you really want to research the differences.


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