E-Books Update for Early 2014

Just wanted to give an update on my slow but steady transition to E-Books – a process that took on new urgency when we went from suburban life to apartment renters in downtown San Diego.

As someone who has spent a lifetime collecting, reading, and cherishing physical books, this has been a challenging journey. As the technology gets better, it has become easier though.

With my latest acquisition of the new Nook Glowlight (the one released at the end of 2013, not to be confused with the Nook SimpleTouch Glowlight which was its predecessor) this transition has become even easier to accept.

In the beginning, E-Books were read either on a Mac or PC, and the mobile hardware was pretty clunky. Today we have Retina iPads and very nice E-Ink readers. My latest Nook is E-Ink, and although my original Nook was also, this one is miles ahead.

It’s actually getting to the point where in many ways I’m preferring reading on my Nook versus a physical hardcover. Sure, this was always the case when portability was the main factor. “Hey, I can take ten novels with me on the plane, and it takes up less space and weight than one hardcover!”

But now I’m finding that the technology has improved to the point where even when the weight and size isn’t an issue, the experience is as good or better.

What factors are bringing about this change? Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Incredible reductions in size and weight. My new Nook weighs about the same as a moderate paperback, and about half of what a really think paperback weighs.
  • Higher resolution screen. It’s getting pretty close (~210dpi) to printed resolution. Close enough that it’s not obvious that it’s an electronic page rather than a paper one.
  • Frontlight for reading in the dark. The new Glowlight is pretty good, with only some mild darkening at the very top of the page. Fantastic for low-light situations. And since it’s front-light versus back-light like an iPad etc. it should have less of the sleep-impacting effects that have been reported for LCD displays.
  • No page-flip “flash” that previous generations of E-Ink typical had.

And then there’s the other factors that have been present for a while: The ability to carry hundreds of books, weeks of battery life, and (if reading a book purchased from Barnes & Noble) the ability to read those books on my iPhone or iPad with my place in the book being synced between the devices. Oh, and not having to try and hold a book open when eating lunch etc. is pretty nice as well.

I’m not ready to abandon my physical books just yet – nothing is going to replace that experience. But for my general reading, I think I’m about at the point where I no longer see switching to E-Books as a necessary compromise to accommodate our new less-burdened lifestyle, but as a pretty nice way to enjoy reading.

3 responses

  1. I have found that I pretty much exclusively read on my tablet (iPad 3). The problem is that I have been an avid book lover and collector for most of my life. When I read a book that I love — I long to have a shiny hardcover on my shelf… but feel so wasteful to buy the kindle version plus the hardcover. I wish that Amazon had a deal where every hardcover book purchased, for $1 extra, came with the Kindle version! Have you totally made that transition? If Walter Jon Williams came out with a new Dagmar book, would you pass on buying the hardcover?

    1. I can answer that! As a matter of fact, the last Dagmar book I read (I’m still one behind) was an e-book. šŸ™‚

      I read on the iPad, but the Nook has become my reader of choice. I really like the E-Ink look, and the size and weight make it a better option compared to my iPad.

      At this point, I think unless it’s not available as an e-book, or is a beautifully “artifact”, my book buying is going to be primarily e-books. I did just buy a couple hardbacks of books by authors I like because they were autographed copies that I purchased from a local independent bookstore.

  2. It’s nice to read about one switching to e-books. Hardcover will never go away completely, but E-readers are the future and I think the norm now. It’s hard to beat the experience of a good hardcover, but a hardcover cant beat the benefits of electronic media.

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