Sunday, March 25, 2012

Many E-Books, Many Devices

I read e-books on my iPod Touch, my Kindle, my Kindle Fire, my desktop PC and my aged laptop. (There's an iPad 1 in my household, but since it's not mine, I haven't used it to read an entire book).

The sources for e-books: Sites such as Project Gutenberg, other free e-book sources providing open access such as Athabasca University Press, PDFs of articles, reports, etc. The public library via Overdrive for Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle titles. The university library: I have accessed books via eBrary, EBL (eBook Library), EBSCOHost (formerly NetLibrary), etc. via my university affiliation. Purchased e-books from

I'm not an electronic purist: If the book I want is available in print and that's the cheapest/most efficient way to get the book, I'll use print.

Desktop: Tends to be the space I use to read PDF files and books from the university's vendors. Not my favorite since it entails sitting up straight. I've never figured out how to curl up with my desktop.

Laptop: I'm sorry - I can never get the stuff to look right on my laptop - 15 inch screen, but things just don't look right to me. It doesn't matter if it's the Kindle app or another format, either the pages look squished or the font looks too small. It's just annoying. Like the desktop, I haven't figure out how to curl up with my laptop either. I read on my laptop sometimes, but it's not a favorite for reading long form.

iPod Touch: I've owned this device for a couple of years. Kindle app - check! Overdrive's app to access public library e-books - check! Nook app - check - (but I've never gotten it to work properly. I've installed, re-installed, tried more than one e-book - I get a couple of pages into a book and it stops.) Various PDF readers apps - check (None of the PDF readers are perfect. Amount of real estate has something to do with it. My portable devices are on the small side. Former favorite way to read PDF: Using on PDF Annotator from GRAHL with a pressure sensitive pen on my HP tablet (the HP Compaq tc4200 with swivel screen).

Kindle (keyboard with wi fi only): I've been an Amazon customer for ages. The first book I ordered was in 1996, so I wasn't a pioneer, but I think I can count myself as an early-ish adopter. (Amazon went online in July 1995). I like my Kindle! It's the old one with the keyboard and wi-fi only. I like the glare-free screen. I like the long battery life. I like being able to set the font size. I'm not handy with that little keyboard so I confine myself to the highlighting. The ability to easily annotate would be great, but I find other ways to keep notes when necessary. What about color? Color would be nice, but when I'm reading straight text, the Kindle is my favorite. (I have a feeling that I might like the KindleDX if I ever got my hands on one. ) Privacy: I'm ok with the Amazon tradeoff. Amazon knows what I've ordered from them. Perhaps I will come to regret it, but I like having a list of all the books I've purchased and/or borrowed from the public library. I like having a list of the documents I've sent to myself to read on my Kindle.

Kindle Fire: Once I figured out how to sideload apps, I've had a good time with the Kindle Fire. It's the device I pick up when I want to read news or check out some video or fiddle with a drawing app. (Still no pressure-sensitive pen like I had on my old HP tablet! Note to self: Watch for a way to replicate this experience in the 21st century. Buy the new HP tablet?? Wait to one of those Samsung Galaxy tablets to do it right? I'm on the list for a jaja pen If it works well, it might tip me over the edge to purchasing an iPad. (Yes, there are a couple of other pens on the way. No, I've never plunked down the bucks for a Wacom tablet or any of those things. I'm looking for the device/tablet that makes it feel like I'm holding a drawing pad.))

I'm trying to use my library affiliations as well as free sources:

I use e-books from my public library - both Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle editions I use print books from my public library. (Let's hear it for the Hillsborough County Public Library system!) I use e-books from my university library (though these are the WORST to use. I suppose if I had an iPad, I would be happier with the e-books available through the university library.) I use interlibrary loan service via my university library. I use print books from my university library. I search for the best e-book price when purchasing the item is a good choice. I search for the best print price when purchasing a print book is a good choice.

Could I get away with using only one device? Hmmm... maybe. Yes, I've used apps for Kindle and/or B&N on various devices. I've used apps for PDF files on various devices. I have used Calibre and DRM-removal software to manipulate files and get them from one file format to another - and from there from one device to another. (If I can hack an Adobe Digital Editions file, anyone can hack an Adobe Digital Editions file.) However I have no reason to settle down to one e-reader device so I'm enjoying trying out more than one.

I purchased my iPod Touch in March 2010 - and my Kindle in September 2010 - and the Kindle Fire in December 2011. In order to track of what I've been reading and which device I've used, I've done up a spreadsheet and listed all the books I've checked out of a library in print or digital form; all the books I've purchased print or digital; all the free e-books I've read. The list includes a few items from my pre-specialized e-reader devices. The list covers December 2009 to date. Missing from the list: The many PDF reports which I've read mostly on my desktop. I'm going to see if I can recover some of that information.

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