Saturday, December 5, 2015

How do you eRead?

Seeing as I'm in between reviews, I thought I'd discuss something a little different. No, not chocolate (although I certainly could), but rather what I've discovered about eReading, and how I read eBooks these days.

Anyone who read either of my early posts about print vs. eBooks will know that I'm still certain that dead tree books are still very much long for this world. Although those posts are both over two years old, I haven't changed my mind. I also don't intend to, because frankly, I doubt I'll ever tire of reading from the printed page.

Of course, who knows what will happen with the next generation of readers? If there's one thing we need to do is continue to encourage people to read. The young readers of today will be adult readers of tomorrow and they'll spawn their own young readers. If that means that we'll eventually have libraries that only have shelves of flash-drives for hooking up your eReader to borrow books, well then, so be it. However, that's unimportant, because what I want to discuss right now is my eReading experiences.


I first started reading eBooks when my lovely sister bought me a Nook. It was just a simple touch model (not like the fancy GlowLight ones they have today), with WiFi that I never used. (This is one of the disadvantages of living in a country where bookshops aren't yet compatible with eReaders. Even there are, they probably only sell books in a language I find too difficult to read for pleasure - due to my dyslexia.) The Nook is actually a nice item that reads many different types of files. In fact, nothing beats it when it comes to a PDF file that I know of. Of course, because I didn't use the WiFi, the battery life on this baby is incredible - I mean, sometimes I could go for over six weeks without having to charge it. Since the eBooks I get from NetGalley are available as ePub files, this was a real boon to my reading - and my reviewing, of course.

Unfortunately, the Nook isn't perfect. First, since my model is a very simple one, the biggest drawback is that it has no backlight. That meant that if I want to read this somewhere without light (on a plane, or in bed while my husband is sleeping), I had to get my own - not terrible, but somewhat inconvenient. More importantly, the NetGalley files I send to my Nook expire after 55 days. That means I had to be careful not to download a book too soon. Since NetGalley files have archive dates, I also had to make sure I download before that date. The first time that happened to me, I realized that I needed a backup (but more about that later). Then there's the problem with technology, which advances extremely quickly these days, and gadgets like Nooks aren't built to last all that long. Recently my poor old Nook started hiccoughing - not literally, but it would do things like lost my place even though I'd bookmarked the last page I read, or it would suddenly flip over to the home page. However, the last nails in my Nook's coffin began when I upgraded my desktop to Windows 10. That's when my Adobe Digital Editions started screwing up and not accepting my NetGalley files. Mind you, I was able to scrape through using one of the laptops we have, but I soon realized that I needed that backup plan even more than ever.

The first backup plan I had was downloading eReader apps to my tablet. (Yes, Barnes & Nobel does have a reading app, but surprise, surprise - it isn't available in my country!) Being a person who likes to support the "little guys," I took down practically every eReader I could find, except for the Kindle reading app. Of course, this didn't help if I downloaded a file and didn't get to read it before it expired. When that happened, as a last resort, I broke down and finally got the Kindle reading app for my tablet. The biggest advantage to this is that the NetGalley files never expire; the drawback is that you can't lend those files to anyone. This made sure I didn't miss downloading a book before NetGalley archived it, as well as working with other ARC sights like Edelweiss.


So, why did I eventually abandon my Nook? Well, a combination of the Windows 10/Adobe Digital Reader disaster and my old Nook's hiccoughing is what did it for me. You see, I don't like reading on my tablet because the little icons that tell me things are happening in the background are distracting. In addition, because I have my tablet hooked up to the WiFi all the time, the battery needs charging far too often for me to read on it as much as I do. That's why I broke down and ordered a Kindle Paperwhite.

There are two drawbacks to buying a Kindle. The first is that they only take certain files, so all my ePub books I had on my Nook before I got the Kindle reading app are useless, unless you get a program to convert them (I did find one, that gives me 10 conversions for free, but that doesn't help with the files that have expired). The other is that the US site doesn't ship to where I live, and the UK site charges a whole lot for shipping (not to mention that customs here like to charge duties for these because our postal service is in the pocket of our largest chain of bookstores). Thankfully, my buying the Kindle coincided with my daughter's trip to the US, who stayed with my best friend - that gave me a US address and free shipping via my daughter's suitcase!

What do I like the most about my Kindle? First, I can send my NetGalley (and Edelweiss) files directly to my eReader with just one click. That's a huge convenience after having to go through the triple steps of downloading the files to the Adobe Digital Editions, then plugging in my Nook and then transferring the files from the PC to the eReader. I also like how light and thin the Kindle is, compared to the Nook it fits in my handbag much better, leaving room for a print book as well. I love having a backlight on my eReader, since I don't need any external lighting to read my books anymore. Of course, because it is new, it's working beautifully and I just hope that lasts a long time. As for the battery, since I keep the WiFi off except for when I'm downloading a book, I hardly have to charge it (but the battery on the Nook is still better). Finally, as soon as I get accepted for an ARC, I can send it to my Kindle right away, and I don't have to worry about the file expiring and I'll never miss getting a book because it was archived.

There you have it; that's how I'm eReading these days. Now it's your turn. Do you read eBooks? If so, what do you use to read them?