An update on my take on ebooks and readers

Kindle Paperwhite

On the first days of February, after many considerations given my past experience, I decided to bite the bullet and get a Kindle. I got the wifi-only paperwhite edition with ads for the economic price of $118 USD. I had the opportunity to buy it directly at a BestBuy store since I was in Texas for a quick weekend business trip.

On that trip, which was several hours long, I took one paperback book I was reading. At the Dallas airport I stumbled upon the last of Christopher Hitchens book, Mortality in hard cover, and before my way back I made a quick stop at Best Buy and got the Kindle. I had no time to add new books to it but I had some free books already from my Kindle Android app (which I never used).

The experience got tested some more when travelling 13 hours by bus to my hometown in the other side of Mexico. I like to travel by night so I can sleep and make time fly by easier. However I always use my travelling times to get ahead on my reading list. This time I took only the Kindle and loaded it with several free public domain and creative commons books.

I really enjoyed using the Kindle in the bus at night. The self illumination is not hard in the eyes and is very practical for these types of environments. Normally I had to rely on the bus’ maintenance quality since not always the head light works. Sometimes the light would bother other passengers, speically when the seat next to you is not free. Also I had to stay in a certain position so I wouldn’t get out of the spotlight. With the Kindle I could move around and not worry about annoying anyone else with the light. I read more and more comfortably.

On the other hand, I’m still worried about DRM in ebooks, specially from Amazon since that’s the default store for the device. So far I’ve only added public domain works and free ebooks from creative commons authors like Cory Doctorow. I happen to have the hard cover of Little Brother, and I loved the convenience of having it on my Kindle too, in case I want to read in one or the other.

I now have a consumer dylemma: buy the ebook (with DRM) for a low price and get it now, or order the physical book for a bigger price, pay extra for international shipping and wait weeks before getting it. I really don’t want to go all digital, as I like to have a library at home and grab books and scan their pages from time to time. Even if they are just decorating a room, visitors can see what you read and what you’re interested in. New conversations can rise from people you’d never expect. I think this should be an option for physical book buyers: Buy the physical book, get the ebook free (and that includes DRM free).

I haven’t used the whole potential of the device, like annotations or page pinning, but I’ll explore those options in time. So far, at home I read my physical books and on the road I’ll use the Kindle. I just hope this one doesn’t break like the previous one.

GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

New media reading habits on tablets and ebook readers

eBook reading

With the latest releases of ebook readers and tablet devices (iPad, xoom, galaxy tab, etc) reading habits are changing from paper based to digital in a faster pace than before.

I’ve been using my Samsung Galaxy Tab for reading a lot more. I enjoy more reading my social media updates (Twitter, Google+, Facebook) on this device than using my laptop. Sometimes I even prefer to use that device even when having my laptop in front of me. Maybe touch scrolling feels nicer than wheel or trackpad scrolling. I still don’t know what exactly it is that makes it feel better.

Broken Kindle

I once borrowed a Kindle from work and one day, right before a 6hr long flight, the screen got damaged. On that trip I wanted to try out travelling with only the Kindle and no paper books, so I was left without any reading material. It was a frustrating waste of time. The advantage of travelling light is no longer very attractive to me over the advantage of reliable reading material.

On the other hand, I’m also very concerned about DRM in ebooks and the volatility of digital goods. Being in a “third” world country, I’m not used to buying digital goods, since there hasn’t been much services available and many US based services are blocked or restricted. The good side of it is that with free software like Calibre, I can convert any PDFs I find into Kindle format easily.

Google Books

I am yet to try out the Google Books app in the tablet. I found a lot of excellent classic reading material for free so I can try before spending any buck like books from Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The advantage I see on reading on the Kindle over reading on my Android tablet is that the Kindle is a distractions free gadget. On my tab I’ll get easily distracted with new email notifications, app updates, status updates, etc.

Some friends claim to be reading more now that they have a Kindle than when having paper books. While other friends who own an android tablet or iPad device tend to use their laptops less at home after work is done.

So I still wonder why is ebook reading on these devices more and more attractive lately. Is it because of the novelty of the gadget? Is there a real advantage or commodity over paper books or is it just techie fashion?