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Posts Tagged ‘ereader’

eBook Reader

Posted by selinalock on 4 February, 2011

Sony eReader

Sony Pocket eReader

I’d asked for a Kindle as a Xmas present, judging that would be the cheapest to get. So, I was very surprised to get a Sony Pocket eReader (350 model in pink!) instead.

Have become a convert very quickly, as it’s great for carrying around in my bag, reading on the bus, or in cafés, and for taking on weekends away.

The plan is to use it to read lots of the freely available, out of copyright, classics I’ve never read. Loaded it up with titles from authors such as Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James, Edgar Allan Poe, E.M. Forster, Oscar Wilder, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Machen, Conan-Doyle, Bram Stoker, Jules Vern, and Mark Twain. Plus some Cory Doctorow  titles and some short stories by friends. Also found it good for reading drafts of novels/scripts that I’ve been sent to critique by friends.

Features I like:

  • Really nice size (a little smaller than the Kindle), which means I can hold it with one hand, while drinking a cuppa, and it doesn’t put any strain on my wrist.
  • The page turning buttons on the bottom can easily be pressed while still holding it in one hand, so no need to put my cuppa down. It also allow you to turn the pages via the touch screen but that’s a little more fiddly.
  • Touch screen is really easy to use.
  • Has a stylus for use in the trickier screens, like the touch screen keyboard.
  • Can type text memos.
  • Can handwrite notes on the books pages and highlight text (and delete).
  • Can add bookmarks (and delete).
  • Can draw pictures on it!
  • Double clicking on a word will bring up the OED definition.
  • Remembers what page you got to on any book/document you go into, so you can have several titles on the go at once.
  • Can read PDFs and if they are text only will also re-size/word wrap in the same way it does for the native ePub format – though you do get the odd formatting issue with PDFs.
  • Being able to sort books into self-titled collections.
  • and I haven’t even used all the functions yet!

Not so good stuff…

  • That you have to hook it up to your computer to add/delete books and recharge it. (No wifi).
  • The software provided for your computer (Reader Library), has a tendency to crash.  Though it’s fairly easy just to move stuff across to the reader as if it’s an external drive anyway without software.
  • You can’t do anything with the drawings you’ve made because they’re SVG (scalable vector graphics) & I haven’t been able to figure out how to convert them into jpgs.
  • Not really usable for comics. We’ve put a copy of an issue of one of our small press comics on in PDF and the pictures show up pretty well in b/w or greyscale (as the screen isn’t colour) but obviously they’re too small to read and it can’t resize them. Can zoom but really fiddly, so any comics would have to be done as a panel at a time, as they’re are for other small screen devices.

I still love printed books, but this is certainly much, much easier to use on the move.

I did a training session on eBooks and eReaders for some of our library staff yesterday, and they found it really useful to see the difference between our online library subscribed ebooks, and the type of ebooks you would download on to an eReader.

Posted in Technology & Devices | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

eBooks, eBooks everywhere

Posted by selinalock on 22 October, 2010

eBook - Cybook

eBook by PPL 2A on Flickr

eBook discussion are popping up in all areas of my life at the moment, from print vs e on the British Fantasy Society forum, the new Doctor Who book by Michael Moorcock being available on the Kindle, to creating comics for the iPhone/Pad, to students asking about them in inductions, to many friends having just bought Kindles or iPads… so a very hot topic, particularly since the Kindle came down in price recently.

I was kindly allowed to gatecrash the CULN eBook & eReader session being run by the BDRA last week. so, here’s a few thoughts from that session and other things I’ve been reading:

  • What is an eBook? A document that can be read on an eReader?
  • How do you read an eBook?
  • Via computers, laptops, dedicated readers (Kindle, Sony eReader), iPad, iPhone, iTouch? Many different routes, some of which require the eBooks in certain formats.
  • There is now a Kindle app for non-Kindle devices to allow people to buy ebooks from Amazon.
  • eBooks formats: libraries still bound by publishers to use password/IP restricted sites, especially for textbooks, which only allow students to read the texts online rather than download them to their own devices.  The students are generally not impressed with this, nor the copyright restrictions that mean they can’t print much off either…
  • PDF – the favourite of academic journal publishers and still very popular with other publishers as an easy format for them to provide, but not a format that works well on dedicated eReaders.
  • Doc (word docs), txt (plain text), html.
  • Mobi (Mobipocket) format – used by the Kindle.
  • ePub format – used by Sony.
  • Why use an eReader instead of a laptop/ipad etc? eReaders like the Kindle and Sony use electronic paper technology, which mimics what ink looks like on paper. The theory being that tis makes is much easier to read the text and easier on the eyes. (Friends with a Kindle have commented they find it much easier to read than a computer screen).
  • Computer screens are backlit making them much brighter, and possibly causing more eye strain. Are younger readers more used to this technology?
  • Formats like Mobi and ePub are also designed to resize easily to the size of the device and reader requirements than traditional formats.
  • it is very easy to convert a Word document to various eBook formats using free software like calibre. (We have a go, it really is easy!). Calibre can also act as an eBook file organiser. e.g. inplace of iTunes on the Sony eReader.
  • Public libraries in the USA and Hampshire Libraries in the Uk have started experimenting with loaning eBooks using the Overdrive system. However, the Publishers Association have just announced new restrictions that look set to put a stop to a lot of eBook lending options!!
  • Lots of free (mainly out of copyright or creative commons) eBooks out there on services such as Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and Manybooks.
  • Amazon have a new feature on all their book pages that allows you to ”Tell the publisher, I’d like this book on the Kindle” – is this where the pressure for eBooks will come from in future?
  • Also a very interesting piece by SF&F writer Charles Stross on why eBooks don’t cost much less to produce than printed books.

I’m sure there’s been lots more stuff out there that I’ve forgotten, anyone?

Posted in Mobile technologies, Service Delivery, Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Kindle: First impressions in the Library

Posted by gazjjohnson on 27 October, 2009

What could it be?Last week my boss asked me to go ahead and purchase a Kindle for the Library to trial.  Ordered it around 3pm on Friday and it was on my desk early yesterday afternoon.  First impressions (and comparing it to the Sony reader I trialed last December) aren’t bad.  Some gut reactions:


  • Wireless works out of the box* – with no set up
  • Manual almost not needed – intuitive to use
  • Access to Wikipedia and works flawlessly
  • Nice look and feel – keys and case
  • Navigation around the menus feels modern and slickFirst looks promising
  • Electronic paper impresses again with clarity
  • USB charger works happily with my PC
  • Joystick works well as selection tool


  • Screen smaller than Sony
  • Heavier than I expected
  • 3G Wireless crippled in UK (currently)
  • £200+ is still a bit much when it only comes bundled with a dictionary & user guide
  • Annotation of text bit tricky
  • No stylus or touchscreen functionality
  • Not in colour
  • Doesn’t recognise native PDF documents placed on it

I quite like the Kindle, even now 24hrs later when the “WOW!” factor is wearing off.  I’m finding the smaller screen (than the Sony) isn’t bothering me quite so much now.  I enjoyed flicking it on for the first time on the train last night (it needed a three hour charge first) and being on wikipedia less than 30 seconds later.  I even liked that it said “Hello Gareth” when it booted.

Sitting happily on the deskSo in terms of usability I would say the Kindle has the slight edge – certainly the plastic coated metal protected me from holding onto a cold metal object out of doors (something the Sony fell down on).  The keyboard layout looks slightly odd at first (it is QWERTY but aligned like a PDA not a keyboard) but was responsive to the touch.  Actually all the keys click nicely without too much of a clunk.

The shame is that the 3G mobile internet browsing has been locked out in the UK.  Can’t Google, can’t Twitter, can’t Facebook.  Can’t even read my email – so as a replacement for a netbook, 3G phone or PDA the Kindle fails.  Yes it looks nice and easy to buy books from, but I’ve not been able to locate any free ones nor have I been able to put my own PDFs on to read.  That alone would have made it very handy in the library sense – got an interlibrary loan?  Zap – there you go, read it on your Kindle.  So far as I can see so far though, this isn’t the case.

Close up of the joystickIn this regards the Kindle begins to raise the same worries in me that have kept me away from Apples iPod/iTunes network – the push to the proprietary media/documents only.  When I have an electronic reading device I want it to read my documents – not just the documents you choose to sell to me.  AntiPirary? Or just my inexperience…yes it appears the latter.  A search of the manual reveals that the Kindle can handle electronic texts, but only in Kindle (.azw, azw1), text (.txt), unprotected mobipocket (.mob1, .prc), audible (.aa, .aax) or MP3 formats.  That seems a real let down.

There is a service whereby you can email your PDFs to Amazon, and then for a fee (these are my documents remember) have them transfer wirelessly to the Kindle.  You can get around this by having it emailed back to you.  Unfortunately in terms of securely electronic delivery PDFs from the British Library, well frankly that wouldn’t work.  But for others, I can see it’s an area where we might be entertaining a little experimentation – if anyone else has tried this, let me know how it worked out for you!

Close up on the keysThat’s it – my first reactions to the Kindle.  Not perfect, not a world beater and by no means the must have item this Christmas.  Would I buy it for myself?  Frankly no, not as it currently is configured or priced.  Personally I’ll be waiting for a reader with flawless wireless, that allows me to upload and read native PDFs rather than passing them through a clunky two handed email exchange, and with touchscreen functionality.  Oh, and can I have two screens so it feels more like reading a book?  If the Nintendo DS can do it…

* Actually the only place the wireless hasn’t worked is right here at my desk!  Our building being somewhat of a shield for mobile phone signals.

Posted in Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »