E-reader, Here to Stay or Gone Tomorrow?

15 Jun

If you have stepped into a Barnes & Nobles lately, you would have noticed all the advertisements about the Barnes & Nobles e-reader, the Nook. It’s impossible not to notice since the booth is set up directly in front of the doors with a salesclerk holding one of the Nooks up in your face. And who hasn’t heard of the Kindle or the iPad? I always have been curious about these new e-readers. Would it really be more convenient for reading? Would it hurt my eyes over time? And then, if these answers were encouraging…is it going to be worth the cost?

As much as I love wandering through a bookstore and the smell of dry book pages, there would be some nice advantages to having an e-reader. Thinking of all the trips I took where my carry-on bag was weighed down with as many books I could fit in it, I can’t help but think how useful it would have been to just carry one small portable device with enough books on it to last me for my entire trip and longer. With the new e-readers, it is possible to have more than a thousand books downloaded and ready to read depending on the memory storage of the e-reader. So even if I find myself on an island somewhere, you know, the one that uses a donkey to pull the cart they put my luggage in, and computer usage is limited to say the least, it will be okay because I have more than enough books to keep me occupied.

Another one of my concerns was battery life. If I were to read the entire book only to have the e-reader die right at the climax, or when I end up on a plane with mechanical difficulties and don’t get home until sixteen hours after my original arrival time (not that that would ever happen), I would be upset. But the e-readers come with a significant battery life, better than the battery life of my cell phone. Each e-reader has an average battery life of 7,000 to 8,000 page turns, which can be more or less depending on how much you use the other applications. Those big numbers are impressive but what does that actually mean? These e-readers can last around a week on one battery charge with the wireless on, the new Kindle DX can last two weeks. Not too shabby.

I’ve also wondered about whether the e-readers would hurt my eyes if I sat down and read for a couple of hours but with the paper-like appearance of the pages and the lack of backlighting, it is easy and strain-free to read. Even though the lack of backlighting means you can’t read without light, it does allow you to read outside in the bright sunshine, something I can’t do with my cell phone.

Like all technology, e-readers seem to come out with new models faster than I can even realize the old one’s are old. However, each model is a worthwhile investment if you are the type of book enthusiast that you always have to have a book to read or if you are a traveler always on the go. As yet I wouldn’t suggest these e-readers for people who don’t suffer from a book-reading addiction or spend most of their lives traveling as they can still be a bit expensive, ranging from $200-$400, or in the case of the iPad, which starts at $499. If you are one of these people however, instead of buying a new bookcase or suitcase to devote to more books, an e-reader may be appropriate.

But then…which e-reader would be best? More on that later.


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