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  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
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  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Thursday, May 20, 2010


To do my bit for the environment and to reduce my risk of paperback induced head trauma from the the ever-growing stacks of books teetering at the head of my bed, I, though technologically challenged, am in the market for an eReader. I'm hoping you all can help.

I've researched the Kindle (1&2), Sony, Nook, and of course the iPad. Borders is coming out with a Kobo. I don't know much about that. My friend Liz recently discussed a Vook on her blog Tao of Liz. I don't think I'm ready to Vook!

At my daughter's band concert the other night, I sat behind a man with an iPad. It was so big and the screen so bright and colorful, it drew me in like a moth in that darkened theater. It was all I could do not to reach for it and poke at the touch screen! I came dangerously close to breaching a stranger's personal space, and maybe breaking a law or two, so I kept my hands clutched tightly in my lap and peppered him with questions until he looked like he wanted to change seats. He loves his iPad, of course, but doesn't use it for reading books. WHAT? And he was sure to mention its huge price tag. Braggart!

So here's the deal. I'm looking for something so easy a two-year-old could use it independently. I think I'd like a larger screen, only because a small screen seems like you'd be scrolling down all the time. I'd like to be able to read it at night. Would I still need to keep a lamp on? And I'd like to be able to adjust the font.

I'm very interested to know if reading on an e-reader causes eye strain similar to long bouts on the computer.

I'm hoping you techno-savvy readers will share your experiences with me!

Thanks so much!


  1. I'm definitely not tech savvy, but I'll be watching for the low-down from those who are. Great topic, Wendy.

  2. My other half bought me an ereader around 18 months ago. He did it as a means of self preservation as he thought he was about to be taken out in an avalanche by the books towering on my bedside cabinet. I'm not technical, first download was tricky. However the font can be adjusted, the screen size is fine and I even have a special screen for reading at night. It doesn't glare in the sun and I haven't noticed eye strain. There is a newer version out now, but I'm not sure about the improvements. Haven't had a chance to try other types of reader as there was only the ereader available in the UK. Downside is can only purchase from a few sites Waterstones and Mills and Boons and some free sites. I want to purchase from Harlequin!!! Ebook prices are still too expensive too.

  3. You and me both, Regina! Your recent blog post about texting cracked me up, because I could certainly relate! What a pair we are! At least we can laugh about it!

  4. Thanks for the info. Susan. I didn't realize England doesn't have the selection of eReaders we have here in the US. I will definately investigate whether eReaders here have a special screen for reading at night, so my husband can go to sleep without feeling like he's under interogation!

  5. The iPad is fundamentally different from the other readers. The iPad has that glorious huge color-rich jump-off-the-page lcd display, while the others have e-ink. You've seen the iPad. So have I. I haven't seen the e-ink. I'd expect the iPad to weary my eyes just like my computer (since my computer has an lcd screen). I have never yet seen any e-ink device in person; I worry about the relatively low contrast of it.

    Lcd screens like the iPad are backlit, so you can read them at night, but that backlight takes power, so the iPad lasts only 10 hours before needing a recharge. And the battery wears out and eventually needs to be replaced, and you have to send it back to Apple to have that done.

    E-ink is different. It is inherently low-power (it only uses power to change the screen -- no power is needed just to show it), so the batteries last a lot longer between charges. However, it has no backlight. Some devices may provide a way to light it for night viewing. (Susan's does -- never heard of that before, but I've probably never heard of her device, either). E-ink looks kind of like paper, but my strong impression is that the contrast isn't quite there. I have worried that the low contrast would cause eye-strain of a different sort from the lcd-induced eye-strain. It's encouraging that Susan's eyes aren't bothered by her reader, though that's only one data point.

    If I were to buy one, I'd be looking at the Kindle. It's got a great content distribution mechanism, and your books will be readable on more than one kind of device (the Droid phone and the iPhone have Kindle readers, I believe). I think the iPad has just way too distraction (and associated cost) to serve as a good e-reader. And there's the matter of the lcd screen, and its associated eye issues. And the thing is way too slippery, in my opinion -- I see it diving for the floor at every opportunity.

    Finally, and again related to price of the device, I'd rather spend my money on the content, not on the hardware: another strike against the iPad....

    Just my two cents.

  6. I love my Nook with the e-ink. The iPad is a lovely and fancy toy but totally not portable, has back light which will cause eye strain and it is bulky to handle. I've had my Nook for a few weeks now, and I just love it. It's light, I can hold it with one hand, it's easy to turn the pages, it's actually a faster way to read and it is super portable. It fits into my purse and is about the size of a paperback book. You can test them out at B&N.

    It's very user friendly--I am tech challenged, and the Nook was easy to learn (I posted about it a few weeks ago).

    Kindle is a great one, bit's got more content distribution, but I like to have it in my hand before I buy so it wasn't a sell for me. I know people who have the Kindle and love it. Both Kindle and Nook are about the same price. iPad is super expensive.

    It's not really an e-reader. It's a flat computer.

  7. I meant to say, the iPad is not really an e-reader. It's a flat computer. My husband is a scientist, so he's looking at it as quasi e-reader, but also something to manage all his equation and mathematica formulas and content. E readers are not for him, because he flips around technical books and jargon and formulas so iPad makes more sense for him.

    Okay--sorry to post twice--:-)

  8. Hi John!
    I recently blogged with a gentleman re: The Kobo and E-ink. I tried to get back to his blog but can't find it. From what I recall, this E-ink technology is not supposed to cause eye strain, although I guess too much reading, regardless of what you are reading, can cause eye strain. He spoke very highly of the Kobo (being released in June) stating it's a no frills, economy eReader selling for under $150.00.

  9. Hi Christine!
    Thanks for the great info.! I remember your post about your new Nook. I seem to recall your daughter helped you with it. I'm glad you love it. Does it detract from the reading experience to have to keep scrolling down the pages?

    I'm with you about wanting to see an eReader before you buy it. It's why I didn't order a Kindle. Although I seem to recall hearing that the Kindle may be coming to select Target stores.

    Since I'm a Borders girl I've been leaning toward the Kobo, but I'm hesitant to buy new gadgets until all the kinks are worked out. One issue with the Kobo seems to be long download times.

    I think another issue with eReaders is some have to be hooked up to the computer and some don't. Does anyone know?

    Can you order books from Amazon for your Nook or do you have to order from B&N?

    I'm all for the instant gratification of ordering a book online and having it available to read in minutes!

  10. Hi Wendy! I will tell you I love my Sony! Of course, I do have a strong reason for that preference, as I work for them, and got a really good deal on it. ;) But what I love most about it is that it's smaller than the Kindle (haven't seen the Nook, so can't compare), and it fits perfectly in my purse. I download everything in pdf, in order to read it, it does mess a little with the formatting, took me a book and a half to adjust.

    I also find it very simple to use, and when I had issues with the Library software, the service group responded quickly and knew exactly what the problem was and it was fixed in 5 minutes.

    I personally have no interest in an Ipad, have no need for one, especially not at that price. I need to be able to carry all my gadgets in my bag, and that doesn't make that list!

  11. Thanks for your input, Gina! I've seen your Sony and it's cute! I was worried maybe it's too small for me. But you love it and Christine loves her Nook, and the compact size seems to be one of the reasons. I guess I need to do a little hands on research!

  12. Due to Jeannie's (albeit) prejudiced lobbying, comparisons on Dear Author, but mainly a slash and burn price on, bought the Sony pocket and am chomping at the bit waiting for it to arrive. And just learned I can read books, awkwardly, slowly, clunkily and minisculely, on the BlackBerry.

  13. Hi Terri!
    I don't think reading on a Blackberry would do it for me. I read where in Japan they are releasing romance novels for the Game Boy. That's not really for me either. I would like to know how you like the Sony pocket once you get it!

  14. Wendy,

    I love my Kindle. The best part about it: I can download my CPs manuscripts and read them on it. No carrying paper around. I think you can do that with most e-readers.

    And, yes, I need to update my blog. I am now group blogging with my CPs at

  15. Hi Abbi!
    Thanks for the info. I never thought about downloading CPs manuscripts on an eReader. That's a great idea!

  16. thanks for the shout out for my blog....
    eventually I'll get an e-reader...eventually

  17. Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Missed you at the last HVRWA meeting.

  18. Wendy, Finally chiming in here I have an ebookwise reader because that's where my books were first available. It's a subsidiary of Fictionwise, not owned by Barnes and Noble. Have seen some of the Nooks and they are coming down in price. One of the groups I belong to is giving away one of the readers. If you check my blog, you can look into it and even join the contest. I love all ereaders and would own every one but that's not financially so I stick to mine and just read books on it. That's all I want to do.

  19. Thanks for stopping by, Janet. Soon I'll be joining all you eReader converts! I look forward to your upcoming blog post(s) on pacing!

  20. These comments are great for someone who knows nothing about ereaders...and that would be me. LOL

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  21. Thanks for stopping by, Angela! I've learned quite a bit about eReaders, too.

  22. Love all this info - I am leaning towards the Kindle and maybe will postpone the Ipad for a while...thanks everyone! Never thought of the light and the difficulty of reading. Learned a lot.

  23. Welcome, Jen! Thanks for stopping by.

  24. Wendy,
    I have used most of the e-readers out there past and present and they all have their pros and cons. One important thing to note is that the iPad is so much more then e-reader. It is handle almost every technology related task that you do. It is more expensive then a dedicated e-reader but has so many uses. As a dedicated e-reader it really is not as good as the Kindle or the Sony Reader. The e-ink really is easy on the eyes and the nature of the technology allows the battery to last a real long time. One downside is that e-ink devices currently only display grey scale text or images. This will change in the near future. Some other issues to think about are:
    1) Device weight - most e-readers arer real light. The iPad gets real heavy after minutes of reading

    2) Book Portability -
    a) By portability I am talking about the ability to move your books around to different friends. Who wants to pay $10 - $15 for a book to only read it once.
    b) tied into a single technology. If you use any vendor's dedicated format and they stop selling the technology and your device dies you just loss a big investment. Think about all of those Albums and 8 track tapes that you have but can no longer hear.

    3) Book Price - some readers support an emergining e-book standard called EPUB. Many public libraries allow you to download EPUB books to you readers or PC and the boks expire after a couple of week.

    There are other issues but I suggest that you physically check out the device in your own hands. The iPad, the Sony Reader, the Nook can be touched at there various stores. The Kindle has so much writtted about it that you can feel like you touching it.

  25. Thanks for your wonderfully informative post, Rick. Can't wait to see you!

  26. Wendy, I'm a Kindle owner too. I put my CP's MSs and my own on it. And it's great for making little notes. I love it. Can't say enough good things about it. Also, I have broken a couple of them... :X and Amazon replaced them. One because it had fallen from a height that shouldn't have broken it, and the other because...well, it was defective actually, so not my fault. But, good CS, great selection, so easy to use, I bought one for my mom. :-D (and she can read my books before they come out!)

  27. Welcome, Maisey!
    I love the idea of putting CP's MSs on the kindle. I never thought of that. Thanks for your input on the Kindle.

  28. I'm a bit late to the conversation I know, sorry :) but I am currently trying to decide between a Nook and a Kindle. I vetoed the iPad because it's too big and doesn't use e-ink. That's also why I'm not getting a Sony Reader, I was told they are back lit as well and don't use e-ink. Since I was able to actually handle a Nook at B&N and since they are offering a promotion right now where you get a free $50 gift card to purchase ebooks, I probably will get a Nook... anyway that's my 2 cents. Btw Have you heard back from HQN yet?

  29. Hi Shana!
    I read a blog today that gave great info on the Nook and highly recommended it. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I saw it. Thanks for the heads up on the Nook deals you mentioned on your blog. I'm going to look into it. I'm still working on revisons for Harlequin. (They take even longer with my fingers crossed!)