Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The gadget wars – good for readers

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,... One of the main concerns with this e-book business was that it would take away from the traditional big-press publishers’ bottom line and maybe it does but from educators to casual readers, people are pretty excited that so much more material is available thanks to small press and independent publishers who are leveraging technology to tell their stories.  With that we also find our choice of platforms is now just as varied as book chains were 10 years ago.

Just a few years ago Amazon launched its Kindle reader, a major innovation.  I had never really heard of or thought about e-books back then but then out of the blue comes an affordable gadget capable of storing a library’s worth of titles for $12 to 99 cents per unit.  Heck, you could even get some for absolutely nothing and best of the entire space requirement is virtually nil, leaving your bookshelves free for only the best of the best.  I jumped on it! 

Buzzing book nerds and tech geeks

Today there are apps for the laptop, smart phone, and iPad and recently a whole new slew of Android-based tablets, a new array of Kindle products and stand-alone e-readers.  If that isn’t mindboggling enough to give you ADHD you still have to account for price points that run from $100 to nearly $1000 and a wide assortment of unrelated features with those on the higher end of the spectrum.  You’ve got loads of choices that fit just about every preference.

I normally stay out of the fray until I really need something and so it happened that my Kindle screen was broken on a helicopter ride in northern Afghanistan – it was devastating, particularly when I started to do a little homework on finding its replacement and faced too many options.  The Kindle Fire had just come out as had the iPad2.  With very different price points and features I had plenty to consider but in the end I went with the right fit for me.

Not an iPad commercial, but...

I was torn between your standard Kindle and jumping way up in price to get the iPad2 and in the end it was the functionality and variety of tasks that sold me over to Apple.  With this handy tool I had a top-notch e-read and about a million more things.  Best was being able to shed the iPod, mini-notebook and digital picture frame.  Besides the obvious apps and functions, this device allows me to travel light without losing a single capability to include staying connected to my family and my social network.

For some, the jump to an iPad is a little cost prohibitive so the wide assortment of apps really comes in handy if an e-reader is your primary concern.  Leveraging Kindle and Apple clouds, you can read your e-books anywhere you go because you can reach your content on everything from a laptop to a phone.  The apps are free and cloud space varies and you won’t find better alternatives to bound paper for the person on the go or those with limited space who read for multiple reasons.  But it seem the most avid readers stick with a dedicated e-reader or a tablet.


Can’t speak for everybody but I am reading a ton compared to years ago when I had more time and some great used book stores to peruse and all the credit goes to my e-reader.  I still go to the book stores but with e-books and a reasonable price point, I have access to new authors and new titles I can try out before committing to the hard-cover.  I still buy about the same number of bound books every year but I am certainly saving my space, and my money on the sure thing, leaving the trial and error to my e-reader.

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