WHAT I LIKED: The text on screen is beautiful. Easy to read, pleasing on the eyes, and well formatted, the on screen text gets 2.5 of the 3 points I gave the Sony Reader. I like that it’s library friendly…sort of.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Pretty much everything else. The size of the eReader is manageable. It felt like I was holding a larger sized paperback. The page turning was a bit tedious, as the next page takes just enough time to load up to make it irritating. I found it really confusing to navigate the menus. Many times, I was confused as to whether I was to use the buttons or the touch screen. And another thing about the touch screen; it’s just not that responsive. The device felt pretty limited to just downloading and reading books. In the age of multitasking, this machine just simply fails. Downloading books onto your computer and then uploading them to your eReader is cumbersome. I didn’t like that at all.
ON THE OTHER HAND: It’s pretty simple and straightforward to use. I could see someone who’s OK at technology being able to handle this device if it comes preloaded.
WHAT I LIKED: Like most (all?) Apple devices, the iPad is easy to operate and, c’mon you gotta admit it, pretty fun to play with. As an eReader, the device shines. The bookmarking and highlighting system are all very easy to use and manage. I’m not a big highlighter but I found myself enjoying this feature more than I normally with with a traditional book. Page turning is a breeze. In fact, it’s quite neat to watch. The font adjustment system works well, although personally I would like to see some more font options.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The Apple iBook store sucks. While the search option works just find, simply browsing through titles is a chore. You have to wade through page after page and after awhile it just becomes tedious. Also, Apple, you are a little bitch. There’s a sad lack of multi-tasking on the a device that seems to be PERFECT for multitasking. Apple’s very “CLOSED NO YOU CAN’T SHARE OR BORROW” attitude towards eBooks is very sad. I don’t want to have to buy an eBook every time I want to read it. Seriously, you’re driving me away with this.
ON THE OTHER HAND: People are gonna flock to this and treat it like a cute little baby, which is understandable. The iPad is enjoyable to use and very welcoming to people with all sorts of technology experience. The iBook store can be frustrating and limiting, but once you get into a book it is very easy to read and quite enjoyable.
WHAT I LIKED: Damn you Kindle. I wanted to hate you. All that you are is a simple black and white eBook reader. I have to buy a lot of the things I want to read from you. I don’t see how libraries can borrow from the Kindle and that makes me super bummed. But here’s the deal. I ended up liking you…a lot. The Kindle is small and cozy enough that it wasn’t a drag to hold. The eInk technology was pretty beautiful. I’ve heard from lots of people that “eBooks don’t look and feel like real books, so I won’t read them”. eInk pretty much takes care of that. I got lost in a Kindle book and I forgot that I wasn’t actually reading “a real book” (whatever that means). This is probably a good sign.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The Kindle is clunky. I would’ve given it a 7.5 if the buttons were a little more friendly. I had a hell of a time figuring out how to change the font size and getting the text to speech option to work. In the age of being able to just change pages and access things with the flick of your finger ala the iPad, I found the Kindle to be clunky for no good reason. Also, c’mon Amazon. Be a little more friendly. I like shopping at Amazon but it isn’t the only place I want to shop at.
ON THE OTHER HAND: I always think of my mother when it comes to new technology. She’s one of those people that with adjustment to new technology it takes awhile for her to get comfortable. The Kindle, with a few minor tweaks, could be something she could latch onto.
BARNES AND NOBLE NOOK
WHAT I LIKED: The clunkiness of the Amazon Kindle is gone with the Barnes and Noble Nook. The handy two screen interface keeps the main reason why you’re staring at this device (the book) right in front of you while you do all the other things that you want to do (change font size, look for another book, etc). As with the other eInk displays, the Nook looks beautiful. I’m also of the fan of the LendMe feature. This is the mon ost library-like optioffered by the family of eReaders.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: I found the Nook to be quite slow compared to the other eReaders. It took awhile for me to navigate. It took some time to load up the books and turn the pages. Overall, it just felt weak once I used the other devices. The color touch pad navigation screen is a great idea but I found it to be too small and clunky for my tastes. Instead of really working as a great tool, often times I found it to be more a nuisance. A great idea, but poor execution doesn’t take it over the top.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Like the Kindle, this is something my mother could easily get into. The draw for fans of Barnes and Noble stores is easily there, plus you can get loads of good eBook materials other ways should you choose.
What it all really comes down to is personal preference. I could sit here all day and tell you about the ins and outs of each device, how DRM isn’t a great thing, and the little quirks that each offers and how they could be improved. But here’s the deal…just try each one out for yourself and over time you’ll find which one works best for you.
This is the area where I think libraries can really excel at this time. There’s so much confusion about how to lend out books and who actually owns them that is causing a lot of progress to come to a screeching halt. It doesn’t seem like these kind of things are gonna be fixed anytime soon, so let’s take the next step. The public library should be the testing grounds for these devices. We can learn about the ins and outs, show them to our patrons, and from there they can make a more informed decision about what they want.