Welcome to Dear Jane, a weekly column based upon reader mailbag questions on anything relating to e-books. No question is too simple or too mundane.
What eReader is best for me?
This is one of the most frequently sent emails. There is an ever-growing number of choices out there and because each e-book reader uses different software locks, picking out the right e-book reader can be tough. What is right for you may not be the right one for your best reading friend. Here are eight factors to consider when determining which e-book reader is right for you.
1. Where do you read the most?
Think about where you read the most. If you read the most at night with a book light then a backlight LCD screen might be the best such as the Apple devices like the iPad or iTouch. If you like to read outside or mainly during the day, the best screens will be the eink screens like the Kindle, nook, Sony, or Kobo.
2. Will you want to carry the device around?
If yes, think about the size of your average purse. How big is it? What kind of device can you fit in there? The iPad is 10" so you are going to need a 12" wide bag or wider to accommodate it. The eink devices are around 7-8" long with the Kindle 6" screen being the longest. Kindle and Kobo readers are the lightest in weight with the Sony and nook a little heavier and the iPad nearly twice as heavy as the eink devices.
3. Will you want to read on more than one device?
If you think you might want to read on the computer at work or on a smartphone (Blackberry, Android, iPhone), and on a dedicated device, you will want an eReading device that has synchronization features. This feature means that if you start reading on your computer and go to pick up your eReader, both machines know exactly where you left off! That's pretty cool, right? If that is something you would like, you'll want to look at the Sony Daily Edition, nook, and Kindle devices.
But there are some drawbacks. For example, Sony doesn't have a smartphone application. The nook doesn't have an app available for the iPad although it is coming. Kobo has apps that allow synchronization but it's dedicated eReader doesn't. The Kindle has the widest array of apps (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad + Mac and PC) and its dedicated eReading has synchronization.
4. Will you want to shop around for the best deal?
The nook, Sony, and Kobo readers all take Adobe Digital Edition books in the epub format. If you want to shop around for the best prices, you'll want to take a look at these. Kindle only allows Kindle books bought at the Amazon store unless the books are DRM free.
5. Do you want the book to appear on your device or are you willing to plug in to your computer to add the content?
If you want to shop directly from your device, you'll need to go with the Kindle, nook, or Sony Daily Edition. Each of these units has what is called 3G connectivity which essentially means that your device is hooked up to the Internet through a cellular connection at all times (or at least where there is cell phone service). With this Internet connection, the devices allow you to purchase using the eReader alone. No computer needed.
6. Do you have books now that you want to put on the device?
If you already have a collection of digital books, you may want a device that is compatible with your existing library. If you have epub books, you could use a Sony, nook, or Kobo. If you purchased eReader books, go with the nook. If you have mobipocket books that have a software lock (also called Secure E-books), you have a much more challenging problem. The Cybook might be your only choice. The good part about the Cybook is that you can switch back and forth between mobipocket firmware and the epub firmware but that can be a big hassle.
7. How much do you want to spend?
If price is a concern, the lowest cost eink readers are the Kobo ($149) and the Sony Pocket edition ($199 retail but found at $149 at Walmart and other online retailers). Both are nice eink readers that allow you to just read the e-books. You do have to plug in the Kobo and Sony Pocket edition into the computer to load your books, but for a device that is $100 less than most e-book readers out there, it's a small price to pay.
For more discussion about eReaders, please see RT's Reader Forum: E-book Questions Answered Here.
Have an e-book question? Send it to Jane@DearAuthor.com and your question may be featured in her next column.