What do you need to read ebooks?

In March 2009 I prounounced that I wouldn’t buy an ereader until “they come down to an affordable price, they are in colour and they steal an Apple designer to work out good user interface”.

Of course at that time the idea of an Apple tablet was only a rumour and what Steve Jobs had stated was interpretted as meaning Apple wasn’t going into a device which could be used as a reader it seemed a long way away.  Interestingly though, when you delve into what he DID say then it seems to really indicate that he was planning the iPad all along!

At that stage I’d played with a number of ereaders – the Sony, the iLiad and a few others. I’d found all them good at doing their job of providing a device with eink to read books on. The thing that really annoyed me was that their usability was not instinctive – I needed the instruction booklet to work out to use these devices. And I shouldn’t need the instructions, because like me, a whole lot of people want to just turn on a device and KNOW what to do!

Instead of paying what at that stage was a high price (A$500 average) for an ereader available in Australia I was reading on my iPhone. And happily reading on my iPhone I should add! I had no need for anything else because despite what everyone said about the size of the screen and the backlight it delivered exactly what I needed to start exploring and enjoying ebooks.

We had a young baby and I was feeding at odd hours of the night and found my iPhone reading was a great way to lull myself back into sleepy-mode, and the small screen meant the light didn’t disturb my husband. Never a great sleeper at the best of times, even with the sleep-deprivation I was experiencing I still needed to drift off and my iPhone was perfect. Not only that, but also met my need to set alarms to feed the baby, and if I wanted, to check twitter or Facebook and feel connected with the outside (pre-baby) world.

I also enjoyed reading on my laptop, and of course the size of the screen meant I got a better ‘chunk’ of text on the page, but it just didn’t work to curl up in bed with – and that is where most of my reading for enjoyment takes place.

As a reader who wishes to read digital content we are now at the point of finally having a wonderful choice of more affordable ereaders and having a wealth of content available to us. Or perhaps I should say on the cusp of having a wealth of content as we are still to see some of the Australian publishers launch their ebook programs although they are definitely working towards that for later this year.

Not only do we now have a number of ereaders available in Australia including the Kindle and the Kobo reader, but Sony have announced that we will finally have their readers sometime later this year. Happily they are now competing on price which can only be good for the consumer, and rightly so. Frankly if I ‘m going to have a single-use device like an ereader then I want it to be affordable!

Now I have my iPad and I’m finding that it is great for reading. The local iBook store hasn’t launched yet, and at this stage I’m not that fussed. I’m not interested in purchasing ebooks that I can’t read on a variety of devices and the iPad allows me to utilise a number of different ereading applications that keep my content ‘in the cloud’. That is one of the reasons that I’m a fan of Kobo amongst others. Not only do they ‘get’ presentation of their store on iPad and iPhone, presenting with great user interface, but I can access my books on my computer, my iPhone and my iPad. My account is with them, allowing for ease of purchase and they remember my credit card making it fast and simple. 

I have been considering when and if I will want to purchase a dedicated ereader device at all. I can only think in some not-so-distant time I will want to take my ereader away on holidays with me and won’t want to risk the loss of my iPad. That is possibly when I will purchase a single-use device – but only when it comes down further still in price!

The ereader and ereading applications are only going to get better as the market grows and as publishers allow more content to be available then I will be one happy ebook reader! My only complaint right now is I want MORE content! oh, and those pesky territorial rights blocking me from purchasing some books not available yet digitally in the Australian market.

I will always read books (pbooks) too, but more and more my reading is going to move to digital.  And I’m happy to see the market finally in Australia moving too.

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