Sunday, April 08, 2012

Looking for advice on an e-ink e-book reader

I'm thinking of getting an e-ink based touch e-book reader.  Does anyone have any knowledge in this market who would like to share their experience?

I did some research yesterday at Best Buy, and I liked size and feel of the Kobo Touch.  I also liked the Nook Simple Touch, but I'm not sold on the shape.  I could see how having the side buttons and the grip on the back would be nice for turning pages with one hand, but the bezel struck me as ugly and bulky.  They didn't have the Sony Reader, so I didn't get a chance to look at that.  The quality of the displays (at least, for the display models that were functional) were roughly equivalent, and very good.  I'm not interested in paying extra for a 3G data connection.  WiFi is enough.  In a pinch, if I'm on the road and want to download and read something, I can simply do it on my phone.

I'm not too inclined do go with the Kindle, simply because of the single-vender lock-in.  Amazon has intentionally made their Kindle devices incompatible with DRM'd books from other e-book sellers, and they have their own format that excludes other devices from consuming their e-books.  If I were in the market for a color e-book and multimedia tablet device, the Kindle Fire is unquestionably the best quality device currently available in that class, but I already have a smartphone, and I'm planning to get a tablet-style Windows 8 computer at some point to replace my aging laptop.

Amazon's proprietary lock-in does allow them to innovate faster than the rest of the market, but this mostly has benefits for dynamic multimedia content.  I'm interested in reading.  If I want a multimedia experience, other devices are more suited to that purpose.

I already read e-books on my phone, and it has apps for each of the major e-book sellers.  The point of wanting a dedicated reader device is to have an e-ink screen for reading books, which is much easier on the eyes and battery life.  Unfortunately, my choice of device will narrow down where I can shop for books.  I recently started using Calibre to manage my (currently small) e-book collection.  Calibre can convert e-books between different formats and devices.  At least, I know it will do so for ePub e-books, DRM or not.  I'm not sure whether it can take a DRM-protected Kindle book and put it on another device, or put a DRM-protected ePub book on a Kindle.  If it could do that, I would consider getting a Kindle.  Perhaps someone with more experience with Calibre can weigh in on this.

One piece of functionality in the "nice to have" category would be Goodreads integration.  I use Goodreads to share comments and updates on (and sometimes quotes from) what I'm reading.  If one of these devices had built-in support for Goodreads, that would be a plus.  I know the Kobo device has something similar.  I'm reading through the Hunger Games trilogy in the Kobo app on my phone, and it has little achievement pop-ups, similar to video game achievements.  If you connect it to Facebook it will publish those updates (I have avoided doing so).  What I want to share with social networks isn't arbitrary automatic blurbs:  it's my thoughts on what I'm reading.  You know:  something my friends might actually care about and want to engage in.

The purpose of this post is to elicit advice and discussion.  Please tell me about your experience with (or shared interest in) e-book readers!