Wednesday, November 30, 2011

E-readers: Before You Buy Buying Tips

I can't believe that December is almost here!  This year is flying by.  Once again at our library's reference desk we are having concerned family members seeking our advice about which e-reader they should buy their loved ones for Christmas this year.  Being a librarian, I really have no vested interest in what readers you buy, but I do know what works with the library's Overdrive program, and the readers that are the easiest to use with Overdrive.  I am not trying to sell anyone anything. I have a nook and I love my nook, but I am also extremely impressed with the Kindle.  While I will focus on Kindle and Nook in this post, many of these questions will be relevant to any e-reader you are looking at.

Even if you are buying for yourself or someone else, these questions and tips will hopefully help you select which device will suit you or the person receiving the gift best.

E-reader Buying Tips and Questions to Ask Yourself:
  • Cheaper isn't always better.  There are a lot of cheap readers on the market, some of them are exceptional, while others are not.  Make sure you know you like the device you are buying because if you don't it wasn't really a bargain.
  • Where do you like to buy books?  Do you like buying books better from Amazon (Kindle) or from Barnes and Noble (Nook).  Whichever device you buy, you will be required to register your device with their website before you can buy books.  This means giving your credit card number to that company.  Your buying preferences figure heavily here keep this in mind when you choose your device--make sure you are comfortable buying from that company.
  • Go somewhere that has the device out where you can touch  it and play with it.  I can't emphasize this enough.  Even though there is no Barnes and Noble where I live, I can go to Books a Million and hold a Nook if I want to see how the device looks, feels, and works in person.  The same is true for Kindle.  Find local retailers that have the devices out where  you can touch them, read on them, and try to navigate on them.  Look for these things as you handle the device:
    • Weight and size.  Although most ereaders are around the same size and weight, there are subtle differences that can influence your decision.  Hold the device in your hand, does it feel comfortable to hold, or is it too bulky (my reader an original nook is kind of heavy, and sometimes makes me wish I had purchased a newer lighter one), do you like the size and and shape of the reader?
    • Read on it!  This is probably the most important tip I can give you.  Whatever one you choose you need to actually read on the device.  Read at least three pages on the device.  
      • Can you read it easily? 
      • Does the glare bother you? 
      • Do you prefer your screens to be backlit? 
      • Adjust the font type--does that make it easier to read?
      • Adjust the size?  Do you like how the font changes with size? 
    • Turn the pages.  This is another important one.  Some e-readers have a really slow page turn.  While some of you may think that is no big deal, let me tell you a slow page turn can be extremely frustrating when you are reading.  Think about it...you finish a page and can't wait to see what happens next, but for some reason your e-reader is taking its own sweet time turning the page.  You are so excited you hit the button again and suddenly your e-reader flips ahead two pages.  Now you have to hit the back button and wait for it to flip back.  I am really not exaggerating here--I have seen this happen and have seen some very upset people trying to navigate on their readers.  Make sure the reader you choose is responsive.  By this I mean the e-reader turns your pages smoothly and quickly--you should not have to wait.  
  • Look for e-reader reviews! Not sure what you are looking for when you handle an e-reader?  If you do a google search, you can come up with a multitude of reviews from various sources.  If you are more traditional and prefer paper publications, you can find reviews from Consumer Reports and various electronics and computer magazines and journals.  You can also ask your friends if they have one what they like or dislike about their reader.  Make sure you are asking someone who actually uses the reader though!

The next part is some things you should consider if your library has Overdrive and you want to get free e-books from the library.

Getting Books From Your Library Through Overdrive:
Overdrive is a wonderful service, and I love getting free ebooks from my library.  Check with your library to see if they subscribe.  Each library has different lending rules--for ours we get the books for two weeks and then they stop working and we delete them off of our devices.  The one thing first time users, or anyone buying an e-reader, should know  is that how you download books from your library will vary from device to device.  If you are considering buying an e-reader, you should make sure that you are comfortable with how this will work for your device.  Most of this information will probably be available on Overdrive's website, or your library's, and if you have a Kindle you can find the information for you on Amazon.com.  Here are some things you should know about how Nook and Kindle downloads differ (keep in mind I am not covering specifics here--for details ask your library):
  • Nook
    • You currently need a computer to do the download.
    • You need to have Adobe Digital Editions downloaded to your computer.  Don't worry, Adobe is free, but you will have to register the software with Adobe and Authorize both your computer and your nook.  You only have to do this once, but set up can sometimes be daunting for people who aren't comfortable around computers.  Here is the link to Adobe Digital Editions for more info about the software.
    • You will search for books, check out books, and download the books to a computer before you will even touch your nook.
    • Once you download the book to your computer it should download it directly to Adobe Digital Editions.  Then you plug in your Nook.  Once your Nook appears on the Digital Editions page you click and drag the book to your Nook.  It really is as simple as clicking and dragging.  
    • You can delete the books (both library and purchased books--so be careful) off your device using Adobe Digital Editions, and you even have an option to return a book early using Adobe Digital Editions.  
    • When the book is on your Nook you will probably find it under My Files, or My Documents--my one wish is that Barnes and Noble would use consistent terminology, but alas no luck there.  Once you find it though you are ready to read.
  • Kindle
    • You need a computer to access Overdrive (we aren't sure if this is necessary for the Kindle Fire, but it is for the other Kindles).
    • You will search for and check out books from a regular computer before you will do anything with a device.
    • Once you have found a book and checked it out, you will click on a button in your Overdrive account that says "Get for Kindle."  
    • At this point you will be redirected to the Amazon page where you will log in with your Amazon account.  
    • Follow the instructions, select the device you want the book delivered to, and then sync your Kindle.  
    • If you have 3G you will need to download the book using your USB cord.  There are instructions for this on Amazon's website including a video, but here is the gist: Save the book to the external drive that your Kindle is on (:E or :F)  Once you save it, you will have to copy the title and paste it into the Kindle’s “documents” folder.  After you eject the Kindle from the external drive, the book should be on your Kindle.
    • For more details visit your library's website.
On the surface both sound complicated, but they really aren't that bad once you get used to it. I hope I am not scaring anyone away from library books from Overdrive. Just remember, talk to you librarians--they can help you with this. At my library we even have one on one trainings that you can schedule to learn how to get e-books from the library--ask your library if they do this.

The #1 thing to remember before you purchase an e-reader--test it out!

4 comments:

  1. I hope it helps! Right now the number one question we are getting from our patrons is which e-reader should I buy or which do you recommend? I think it all depends on who is buying it and who they are buying it for!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes thanks Melissa-
    I have been wondering secretly about this topic for awhile, but I still don't know that I will ever take the plung and buy one...
    maybe I am old-fashioned...
    wait a minute!?
    Am I "old"?
    Does having an aversion to new technology automatically make me a fuddy-duddy?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wouldn't call you old or even a fuddy-duddy! :) Even though I have an e-reader, there are some books that I must have in print. I can't tell you exactly what the distinction is between the books I get on my ereader and the books I have to have hard copies of, except for maybe this--the physical books are most likely ones that I will want to keep after reading. Much of what I read on my e-reader are books I will read once and forget. Strange, I know. Also, the e-reader is convenient, light weight, and easy to travel with so it makes it good for traveling. I like mine, but there is still something about the feel and smell of a book that makes me want to have the real thing.

    ReplyDelete

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