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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The EBook solution -

I love reading, and I love books, the feel of them, looking at the shelves full of them, going to used book stores and finding that one you have been looking searching for. That being said things move on and like it or not I think EBooks are here to stay, with that in mind and my uncontrollable lust for all things new and techie I view the whole situation with a mixed bag of feelings. On one hand I am deeply saddened that we may be loosing books in the physical sense, ages old paper and leather being replaced, like so many other things, with insurmountable lines of zeros and ones. On the other hand a whole new niche market is rapidly emerging, aiding and abetting the tablet revolution, the thought of being able to carry my whole library of books with me where ever I go is without doubt an exciting prospect. I don't really want to get into the ethical debate on EBooks right now but rather I wanted to share my own experiences with them and the many devices used for EBooking.

I have been trying to use EBooks more and more for about two years now with limited success, until recently. My fist experience was with an E Paper reader, it wasn't a Kindle or a Nook or any of the big names but a cheaper one bought on a whim at a discount store. I have since used E Paper devices from both Amazon and Barns and Noble. I found them all just ok, and the newer ones work very well, not as sluggish and faster page turns. I also tried using my beloved Ipad as an E Reader, it works fine, I don't have a problem with bright screen, I turn the brightness all the way down when I am reading and set the page to be black but I find it a little large and heavy for prolonged use. I tried my phone but found it way to small for anything more than a few casual pages. Finally I settled on a low end Android tablet as my main reader, I found the screen size at seven inches to be about perfect, the weight was fine and for under one hundred dollars it wasn't going to break the bank if I dropped it or lost it.

Even though I use the Android tablet as my main reader there are times when I forget to take it with me, or the battery runs out, or for what ever reason I just want to read on something else, I find that this happens quite a lot (normally because I forget to grab it as I am leaving). The problem with this is having to keep all my devices up to date with what I am reading or may want to read, this turned out to be more trouble than its worth, some of the big apps, like Kindle will do this for you to some degree but they are far from perfect, mainly because you are locked into only using the books you have bought through them. A lot of the books I have are DRM free EBooks from various places and while you can side load into most of the programs and devices they don't keep the book updated across all platforms. I felt there was something lacking in this whole experience, in this cloud based age why isn't there a way to read the same book across what ever device you have to hand and be able to keep track of what page you are on. I didn't seam that much to ask for, I tried all kinds of convoluted way to do this using Drop Box and other cloud services but nothing worked, that is until I stumbled upon a fairly new project called The service is basically an online EReader that you can upload your own DRM free EBooks too or you can purchase books through there own store. The service works on pretty much any modern browser (check the compatibility list) and provides a very nice reading experience. I wont go into all the ins and outs, please check there website for all that good stuff, but i will touch on a few key features. The big thing for me is that you can read your books on more or less any device and as long as you have an internet connection you will be taken to the last page you read. Additionally it has a cleaver little feature that will download or cache the book on any device you have opened it on, this allows you to read offline also, and I have to admit I am very impressed with how well this works. Reading on a computer is very much what you would expect but really comes into its own on tablets and phones. On Android devices you read within the browser window but on iOS devices (after you add the page to your home screen) you get a full screen app like experience that looks as good as if not better in some ways than other EBook reader apps. On both Android and iOS you can swipe left and right to turn pages and if you tap the middle of the screen you get a nice menu allowing you to change the font, font size, justification and switch between night and day mode (personally I use night mode all the time), you can also jump to chapters and search through the book in this menu.

In a nutshell is a very nice solution for anyone who uses EBooks, but really comes into its own if you use multiple devices. With a clean, easy to use interface and a concise set of useful features this software, in my humble opinion, is how EBooks should be.

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1 comment:

Dani said...

I used a palm zire 31 for ebook reader more than ten years ago and i am very happy with it.

Recently i bought a nook simple touch ,(it was cheap and has android which make it very interesting to "play" with it).
I have rooted it,disable fabric app and install some ebook readers.It works really well .(The zire is old and with huge pdf is unable ,but i go on with both )