A Tale Of Three Readers: Andy Burns On the Kobo, the Sony E-reader and the iPad

We’re all looking for freedom, right? At least, I’m pretty sure we are. We work to have the freedom to do what we want, when we want. So that we can buy our wives and husbands and children pretty and nice things, not to mention ourselves. I love gadgets, so along with working to make the mortgage and put food on the table, I’m also working so that I can get myself all the nifty toys that Mr. Gene Roddenberry saw when he travelled in time and brought back to Star Trek back in the late 60’s.

That’s the Queen’s theory, anyway. And sometimes it’s hard to dispute. Roddenberry was such a visionary – we just call tricorders iPhones, don’t we? And isn’t the iPad just what Nurse Chapel would jot down all of Bones’ ramblings with? I’m just waiting for the day when we’ll be visiting holodecks. Sooner than later, methinks.

Among the the new technology that’s currently blowing my mind is part gadget, part concept, and it’s that of the e-reader. For many, the idea of forsaking the printed page for e-ink may seem like sacriledge, but from where I’m sitting this method of reading is going to help keep the written word alive.

For nearly a year I’ve been using the Sony E-reader when I’ve been commuting on the subway and I’ve been ridiculously blown away by the experience. The notion of having 100’s of books at your disposal on one little electronic device is innovative in and of itself – it means that when you’re reading a series, like I was doing last winter with Stephen King’s The Dark Tower seven book cycle, you don’t have to worry about running out of books to read if you finish a title mid-way through your commute. If you’ve bought it, the next one is waiting there for you, ready to read. Throw in some easy organization and varying fonts and it’s all magnificent stuff.

Though I highly recommend the Sony e-reader (it feels strong and sturdy in my hands), I recently picked up a Kobo reader for The Queen, since she’s at home with our little one for the next few months and I wanted her to have the ease of an e-reader. For our friends in the U.S., the Kobo is the Canadian version of Barnes and Nobles’ Nook. It feels more plastic-like than the Sony and the page turns are a little slower as well, but the price is right – $149 for the latest version, which is Wi-Fi accessible and comes loaded with 100 free classic, rights free publications (which I believe is the only reason The Queen read The Scarlett Pimpernel out of the blue). The Kobo is also related to both the Chapters/Indigo book chain and has its own online book store, which is where I purchase all my e-books from and which I highly recommend for all of your online e-book needs. Not only do the e-pub titles from Kobo work on my Sony e-reader and The Queen’s Kobo, but store purchases also sync up with the third and final reader I’ll mention here – the iPad, or as I call it, the greatest invention of the new decade. Nearly.

Here’s the thing – I love my iPad. It’s the ultimate gadget. I’m writing on it right now, utilizing the keyboard peripheral you can purchase to make it the ultimate mini-computer. As a surfing device, it’s the greatest method of experiencing the web you can find (and that’s without the Flash video option). As a reader, though? That depends on what you’re looking for. A few months back I purchased a digital subscription to Rolling Stone magazine via an APP called Zinio for $10 and it’s been an absolute fantastic experience. The magazine looks great in this format, the price was right and I’m saving serious space that would have been taken up by the physical product. Reading novels has been a different experience, however.

First of all, please take my advice – if you’re going to purchase books to read on your iPad, do not do it through the iBooks store. Those titles are locked so you can only read them on the one device. I found that out the hard way, when I purchased Stephen King’s On Writing from there and tried to transfer it to my Sony e-reader. It wasn’t happening, which means I’m stuck reading it on the iPad. If I’ve learned anything from the e-book revolution, or even the mp3 revolution, it’s that I like to have options to listen or read things wherever I want, on whatever device I choose. That’s why I love the Kobo online store so much. I can buy a book from their via the Kobo iPad App and begin reading it immediately if I choose. Alternately, I can go on my laptop and download the e-pub version of what ever books I’ve purchased and transfer them on to my Sony e-reader without any muss or fuss. Which means I now have multiple books on the go. On the e-reader I’m making my way through Rob Sheffield’s memoir Love Is A Mix Tape, while just the other morning I purchased John Everson’s Stoker Award winning novel Covenant on the iPad when I saw a Twitter post saying the title was on sale for just 99 cents. Though I haven’t been sold on the iPad as a novel reading device for the above mentioned reason and the fact that it is heavier than both the Sony or Kobo, I did love the immediacy of the purchase and the instant reading.

What’s the best thing about all this new technology and the multitude of devices out there? How about the fact that people are not only talking about them, but actually reading! Every where I go I see Kobos, Kindles and iPad, along with Sony e-readers here and there. It’s actually very inspiring. Will these toys ever replace the joy of holding a book in ones hand? Not in our lifetime, I’d wager. I just finished reading Stephen King’s mammoth Under The Dome last weekend and I had such satisfaction when I turned that final page, a satisfaction no click of a button or e-ink will ever replace.

Now if you’ll excuse me – I have some more reading to do.

One Reply to “A Tale Of Three Readers: Andy Burns On the Kobo, the Sony E-reader and the iPad”

  1. And you are reading with an earlier Sony reader. I like the intuitiveness of the Sony Touch, which I have tried a few times. I also appreciate Sony's customer service. Sony got in touch with me to upgrade the firmware of my very old e-reader to accept epub. That was important as before the Sony reader only accepted their proprietary, DRM-ridden format,BBBeb.

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