Last night all I could think about was the deadline for this blog post. I had put it off all month. At the last minute I was hoping to write something inspirational for both readers and writers. While hope springs eternal, I found myself pondering – and pondering – what that perfect message should be.
If I’m going to be honest, I knew I wouldn’t come up with anything substantial because I have been distracted. When I’m distracted I usually sit down with a friend at a coffee shop and hash out whatever is on my mind until I’m back on track. Since I can’t do that you’re ‘it’, my friends in a virtual coffee shop. I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing while I’ve been locked down and pondering this post. We’ll start with the garden and move on from there.
Tomato plants. I haven’t actually thought about the tomatoes as much as I have been checking on them. Going outside every fifteen minutes is a nice break from staring at my blank computer screen or at my husband napping on the couch. No matter how often I check, though, the tomatoes still have not turned red and my husband still has not gone back to work.
My fabric stash. Over the last eight weeks I have knocked it down some. Here’s the count: five blouses, a quilt top, a fully-lined summer suit (1 dress that would have fit 15 years ago when I was 25 pounds lighter), and ten face masks. Here’s my question: is sewing my stash like a tree falling in the forest or is it like ‘build it and they will come’? I think it’s the latter. When the day comes to have dinner in a restaurant I will have lots to wear.
Work. Honestly, my brain has been mush when it comes to writing a new book. I have an idea but I couldn’t get it to gel, so I looked through my files and reread some of my early work. I had so much fun that I edited and published five novels from the 90s. I also published The Death of Me, a novella I wrote that morphed into a novel (Before Her Eyes). These two works are as different as they are similar. Some times pondering one thing will lead to another. The trick is not to ignore the ‘other’. Productivity: mission accomplished.
Finally, I’ve been pondering important things: the individual versus the greater good, the constitution and ‘guidelines’ as our lockdown stretches into yet another week, another month, another century. My heart is sad for those who are sick and who have died; my heart is breaking for my relatives and friends who are losing their livelihood, home and, well, everything they have worked hard for. I won’t tell you which side I’m on when it comes to hunkering down or opening up. I will only say that I realize that what I have been pondering all along is something readers and writers have always been inspired by: story. No matter what road we choose there will be stories at the end of it. We are writing them now.
These will be tales of tragedy and triumph; there will be something to laugh at and something to cry over. We will all see these events – and each other – differently. Eventually there will come a time when we put pondering aside so that we can sit with friends at a coffee shop, tell our stories, and hug each other when all is said and done.
At the OCC meeting on Saturday, a friend asked me for advice on which e-readers to request from Santa. I jokingly said, “If Santa’s rich, ask for iPad. But if Santa isn’t, any of the e-ink readers should do nicely.”
Apple’s iPad, of course, is much more than a dedicated e-reader, and it’s quite a bit more costly. I’d sure love to have one, but I’ll wait. More companies are coming out with table computers and I’m figuring they’ll be cheaper than the iPad. (Sheesh, I had just published this post when I read an email about the Pandigital Novel, a “7-inch Color Multimedia eReader” which looks like an inexpensive iPad. It’s connected to B&N’s e-book store.) Apparently Bed, Bath and Beyond is carrying them, so I know where I’m going this week.)
At the moment, three companies dominate the dedicated e-book reader market: Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble. All make good devices, so how to decide which one is right for you? First, go look at them. I didn’t have that option when I bought my Kindle in December 2007. At the time, the only choice was the Kindle or the Sony reader and I chose the Kindle because I wanted the wireless delivery.
You can see and sample the nook at any Barnes & Noble bookstore. Last time I was in, I asked one of the sales clerks to show me and my husband how they work. He wanted to try out the internet browser function of the nook, but not being used to e-ink, he found it sluggish. That didn’t bother me, since I’ve been using a first-generation Kindle since 2007 and I know it takes a while for the little e-ink pixels to reorganize themselves into a new page. I have a couple of friends who have recently bought nooks and love it. If you want a reader that can also substitute as an internet browser, this is your best choice.
The Amzaon Kindle can be viewed at Target though the demos will be Kindle 2. The Kindle 3 has just been announced and Amazon is taking orders now for delivery in mid-September. The new Kindle offers a choice of wi-fi or wi-fi + 3G. If you buy a lot from Amazon anyway and don’t object to their proprietary format, this is a good choice. I have an Amazon Rewards card, so I can apply rewards certificates to e-books.
The Sony Readers can be seen at Target, Best Buy and Borders bookstores. If you can get into a Borders, you’ll get a better feel for the device as theirs seem to be fully functional, unlike the ones at Best Buy that flip between two advertising pages. I like the Sony Touch, with its touch screen and the ability to rotate the screen from portrait to landscape. I found it to have a more user-friendly interface than the nook, and this is currently my top contender for a new reading device. In addition to the company’s proprietary format BBeB, the Sony devices support PDF, ePub, MS Word and other text formats.
So how to choose one reader over the others? It depends somewhat on your reason for buying an e-reader and what you intend to do with it. One friend chose the Sony Touch over the Kindle because she wanted to be able to buy from the eHarlequin store instead of Amazon. She made a very wise choice for her.
Also think about whether or not you want a wi-fi or 3G (cell phone) connection. If not, you can probably save Santa a few bucks. But I warn you, once you’re tried a reader with the 3G connection, you’ll be hooked. I love that feature on my Kindle and I’ve updated my blogs and even bought books while riding in the car. But if you don’t mind transferring files the old-fashioned way, via USB cable, then look at the Sony models.
There are other e-book readers on the market: COOL-ER, the JetBook, and the Aluratek Libre eBook Reader, sold at Micro-Center. I don’t have any hand-on experience with these devices, so I won’t make any recommendations.
Which e-book reader do you recommend?
w/a Lyndi Lamont
The Kobo eReader is now available in Canada and coming to a Borders near you next. At $149.99 US, it’s $110 less than the Amazon Kindle and BN’s nook and $50 less than the Pocket Edition of the Sony Reader. The lower price should appeal to readers looking for an affordable device. Kobo also has a Bluetooth connection, so users with certain smartphones can update their selections on the go. There are also mobile apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch as well as Palm Pre, Blackberry and Android.
Kobo uses the same e-ink display as the other readers and appears to be about the same size. It has 1 GB of memory, and unlike the Kindle 2, it has a slot for an SD reader card, expanding storage capabilities even further. It comes with 100 free e-books (all classics) so is ideal for a high school or college student. In fact, I think any e-reader makes a great graduation present, though the Kobo may arrive too late for this year. It’s due in Borders stores around Father’s Day.
Kobo provides an e-reader comparison page on their website. The file formats it supports are ePub, unsecured PDF and Adobe DRM.
I’ve been reading e-books for over ten years now, so it’s exciting to me to see so many different readers now available. Prices of e-ink readers have come down substantially since Dec. 2007 when I bought my first Kindle. This is getting really interesting.
What do you think? Will Kobo kill the Kindle? Or will it perhaps force Amazon and BN to lower their prices again? I suspect the latter, at least for the short term.
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Links to e-book readers mentioned in this post:
The e-book reader market is heating up this fall with the upcoming release of Barnes & Noble’s nook. B&N is hyping it as “the world’s most advanced eBook Reader, and I have to say, it looks great. It features e-ink display and AT&T’s Wi-Fi, so you can browse, buy and download books anywhere you find the network, including the B&N brick-and-mortar stores. At $259, it costs as much as Amazon’s Kindle 2, but offers the option of adding a memory card for additional storage. A nice feature is the full-color touchscreen at the bottom of the display where you can browse for titles or use the keyboard.
The only feature that has authors a little concerned is the nook’s “lend ebooks to friends” feature. Some of us are saying, WTF? Their site says books can be loaned for up to two weeks. I’m assuming they disappear from the reader at that point as library e-books do after the due date. I’d have to see that in action before I can endorse this feature.
The December issue of PC World magazine has a review of e-book readers, alas too soon for the nook to be included. They liked the Sony Reader Touch Edition at $300, but rated the Kindle 2 as the best buy at $259. All Sony and Kindle models were rated Very Good, with the Interead Cool-ER listed as Good. Two they did not recommend at this time are the Astak EZReader PocketPro and Foxit eStick Reader. Both need to do some “catching up” in PC World’s opinion. Click here here to read more.
PC World’s point about the e-book market being Balkanized is right on the mark. The problem hasn’t just been coming up with great hardware; there’s a software problem, too. And as long as publishers and distributors insist on using proprietary content it’s going to continue to be that way. It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out.
ASUS, maker of the popular Eee netbook computer, is planning to enter the burgeoning e-book reader market by the end of the year. Their reader could be the first to have dual screens and, according to Slash Gear, may come in two sizes, 6-inch and 9-inch touchscreens.
According to Times Online, ASUS “confirmed last week that it is planning to shake up the market in the same way it did when it launched the first netbook â€” the low-cost alternative to the laptop.” Click here to read the complete article.
I love the idea of a dual-screen device, even though I’m quite used to reading on a single screen now. It would be great to not have to turn the page as often, and it might win over people who are resistant to the idea of e-book reading. Two screens would seem more like a “real” book.
So far there’s no word on what formats will be available for the device, but the cost of the device is rumored to be about $165. (Information Week, Sept. 9, 2009)
What do you think? Would an inexpensive, dual screen e-book reader tempt you?
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