eBook Readers Buying Guide

What Is An eBook?

An eBook is an electronic version of a book. Instead of being printed on paper, e Books are designed to be read on a computer, or on hand-held devices called e-Book readers (also known as eReaders).

What Are The Advantages Of eBooks?

Purchasing an e-Book is generally much cheaper than buying a printed book from a bookstore. They are also much more convenient for students and travellers; being able to store thousands of books on the one small device means they are much lighter than traditional books.

What's An eBook Reader?

An eReader is a hand-held device, usually no bigger than an A4 pad of paper, which is designed specifically to store and display e-Books. They generally come with a number of basic functions:

  • Storage capacity of 1GB or more, enough to store over a thousand books.
  • Expandable memory through an SD card slot.
  • The ability to make annotated notes and bookmarks on an in-built keyboard.

It's All About Text

The main function of an eBook reader is to display the text and images of a book in an easy-to-read format. It's important to look for an E Ink display, which is an electronic paper that mimics the visual properties of ink on paper. Backlit screens, like those found on computers and laptops, can fatigue the eyes.

  • E Ink screens are easy to read in bright sunlight and at any angle.
  • Multi-function, multi-media tablets – like the Apple iPad – usually come with backlit screens, which can fatigue the eyes and are hard to read in bright sunlight.

Consider Screen Size

There is no point buying an eReader with a screen so small it strains your eyes when reading. A six-inch screen is pretty much the standard, offering a good compromise between size and portability.

Where Do I Get eBooks?

The most important aspect of an eBook reader is the content. Most eReader manufacturers have developed partnerships with major book retail chains and publishers so you can download

How Do I Load Them?

eBooks are downloaded from the Internet, which means your eReader needs to either be able to access the Internet, or connect to a computer.

  • Most eReaders connect to computers via a USB 2.0 connection.
  • Some can connect wirelessly to online shops (through Wi-Fi).
  • Some eReaders automatically download RSS feeds of newspapers and magazine updates.

Formats Are Important

It's extremely important to choose an eReader that supports a number of formats, as this will determine what you're able to read and where you can download content from. Most eReaders will support HTML, Txt, MP3 and JPG, but if you would like to read work documents it's a good idea to choose an eReader that supports PDF as well.

  • The more formats your eReader supports, the more content you will be able to access.
  • ePub is the most common eBook format, also used by Google's Classic Books.
  • The Amazon Kindle eReader currently does not support ePub. It supports an Amazon-specific format called .awz.

Size Does Matter

One of the main advantages of an eBook reader is the size, compared to a book. An eReader should be no thicker than a pad of paper and should be small enough to fit in a small bag or backpack.

Navigation And Controls

Play around with the eBook reader before you buy it. Become familiar with the easy-to-use controls and sleek design. Learn all the extra features an eBook reader can provide, such as a sound recorder or MP3 player.

Battery Life – Read More Books

Battery life for eBook readers is measured in page turns, that is, how many different pages the device will display before it needs to be charged. Look for several thousand page turns of battery life, which should last a week or so.

Words, With Sound

Some eReaders have an MP3 player built in to support music. Play your favourite music while reading, or use it for audio books. Make sure there is a headphone jack.

Make Notes Anywhere… Any Time

One of the greatest features to look out for on an eReader is the ability to take notes and leave annotated bookmarks. This feature is perfect for students and means that they don't need to carry around bags full of books to class and study groups.

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