Buying an e-reader

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UK-with-kids
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Buying an e-reader

Post by UK-with-kids »

In the past I've had a habit of buying too many books, which isn't very compatible with ERE - it costs a lot of money, takes up space, needs bookshelves to store the books on, makes it harder to move house, etc.

But I still want to read a lot for personal development, skills, fun, etc. Libraries are a potential option but there is a definite time factor, and realistically a lot of the more obscure recommendations aren't available.

I've heard that e-reader technology has improved so much now that it might be worth going digital. Does anybody have any experience or tips around this? It looks like in the UK you can for example buy a basic Amazon Kindle for £70 or a 'Paperwhite' version for £120. The main advantage of the more expensive option seems to be the screen resolution (300ppi versus 167ppi). Even the basic model now has 4GB of storage and a light. It isn't waterproof, but then neither are the books I have now :lol:

I've looked on Ebay (we don't really have Craigslist here) but the secondhand models are going for at least 50% of the brand new prices. And as they are older generation they probably aren't as good.

I also heard about rival e-readers like Kobo which sound like they keep you out of the evil Amazon empire, but maybe don't provide as much book choice?

I feel like buying one of the Amazon products brand new is probably the way to go, but in these situations I seem to find myself pathologically unable to spend money so would benefit from either some reassurance or some counter arguments.

The Old Man
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by The Old Man »

I have an Amazon Kindle. Generally, I prefer to use the Kindle app on my computer. It is much more user friendly than the e-reader itself.

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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by jacob »

I hemmed and hawed for a long time before getting a kindle keyboard 3G in 2011 or so. It still works except the "extras" like the free 3G web browser is very borked because nobody makes their websites backwards compatible. I mainly use it as a backup reader for traveling in case I run out of other books to read. Resolution was already good enough back then---I can't really tell the difference from printed paper.

I've yet to actually buy a book on kindle (I've had a couple of newspaper subscriptions), but there are plenty of interesting free books available at all times. PDF's can be read but in general the print is either very small or you find yourself scrolling around on the page which is stupid.

My kindle still has a very long battery life. It has no built in light for reading in the dark. However, a red LED takes care of that.

I still prefer real books since they can be bought used and resold. I also seem to be better able to find/look up things in real books because I remember where in the book, the paragraph I'm looking for is. I have no such feel for ebooks.

RealPerson
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by RealPerson »

@Jacob
Where are you selling your books and what kind of books are they? I have always had a hard time selling my old books and that was before COVID. Maybe I don't have the collectables that are likely selling for decent money.

Caveat: I don't want to spend the effort to package and ship a book for a small amount of money. Even in retirement my time is worth something!

Before COVID I was able to sell a lot of stuff locally on Craigslist, just not books. I haven't tried recently, but I would like to hear people's experiences with CL in the COVID era.

Scott 2
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Scott 2 »

What sort of e-lending option are available to you via the local library?

My wife consumes multiple books a week via her kindle, all through the library. I've been doing audio books - the library option are so good, I haven't been able to find a reason to use my audible credits.

Provided you aren't hard on your electronics, I'd buy the nicest kindle you feel comfortable affording. They last.

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Alphaville
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Alphaville »

i use the kindle reader on my ipad. some library books can be opened on it (drm gets transferred to my amazon account)

then there are a few other apps the libraries use here: hoopla, libby/overdrive, axis360, rbdigital...

i’d suggest checking with your local library system to see what apps they use, then buy accordingly. there are many formats like epub, pdf, etc.... a bit of a wild west here at the moment, as there is no standard, a book may open in one app and not another.

audiobooks run on the ipad as well. better bang for the buck with the ipad and not a unitasker although i understand the kindle paperwhite makes for a very pleasant reading experience.

all apps are on android/ios which gives you a choice of tablet/phone (i listen to audiobooks on the phone).

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Dream of Freedom »

Why not try the kindle app on your phone first? Download a free book like one of these: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=digital-text ... p_n_date_1
and just see if you like reading in the digital format before deciding. If you like it then getting a dedicated e-reader might be a good option. If you prefer paper at least you know.

ember
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by ember »

I have a Kindle Fire which cost about £80, although it may be possible to get a special offer on it on Prime Day or Black Friday. I mainly use it to read books either on the Kindle app or on Overdrive which is the app for my local library. It's about the same size as a mini ipad but a little chunkier. The screen is fine and you can adjust the font size and the brightness level. I also like the fact that it's cheap and cheerful so if it gets broken I won't be devastated. I've had mine for about 3 years, it's accompanied me on many travels and trips to the gym, and I'd definitely recommend it as a relatively frugal option.

ertyu
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by ertyu »

I read directly on my phone. There are apps that allow you to adjust the background to day/night themes as well as customize font, font size, spacing, etc. Why is a kindle necessary? Last I herd the world isn’t short of people willing to sell you epubs when you’d like to read a book you can’t get via your local library. I read a lot, both nonfiction and “popcorn” reading, and for nonfiction in particular there are often multiple talks the authors have given on YouTube promoting their book which summarize the gist pretty well. Authors get on podcasts, too, many of which are free.

Imo a kindle is unnecessary. I do want one, but I’m not about to buy one any time soon.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by tonyedgecombe »

Personally I don't like reading books on my phone. It's too small, the display is too bright, the battery life isn't good enough. It's fine for an app but the Kindle is a much nicer experience if you are doing a lot of reading.

However I don't think the Kindle works that well for non-fiction, anything with diagrams or equations gives a poor user experience.

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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by jacob »

RealPerson wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 6:16 pm
Caveat: I don't want to spend the effort to package and ship a book for a small amount of money. Even in retirement my time is worth something!
Uh oh! Not the best attitude for making money :mrgreen: :-P

I'll list anything on amazon with a sales price >$4 and a sales rank <500k. Then I'll check my inventory every few days (on the sellers page) to make sure I have the lowest price. (This can turn into an "algorithmic" battle with competing sellers lowering by 1c at a time until someone snaps back to the original price.)

However, like with investing, I think most of the "profit" is in the buying rather than the selling. You're very likely to recover much of your outlay on a book that "still sells" (the sales rank criterion) and "holds its price" on the used market compared to the new market. These books are the Toyota Corollas and/or classic cars of the book market.

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Alphaville
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 8:17 am
However, like with investing, I think most of the "profit" is in the buying rather than the selling. You're very likely to recover much of your outlay on a book that "still sells" (the sales rank criterion) and "holds its price" on the used market compared to the new market. These books are the Toyota Corollas and/or classic cars of the book market.
a quick look at amazon shows me basic writings of nietzsche at $28 hardcover, $16.33 paperback, $5.99 kindle.

looks to me like regardless of resell strategies the kindle edition is the best buy here. plus i let myself be enticed by amazon in switching my delivery dates for digital good discounts, which lowers the costs for them and me.

i own the hardcover edition already, but being able to perform a search beats paper any day; and while my cellulose book is trapped by a pandemic in my country hovel, the ebook can follow where i go. besides, this is a text i always go back to and have no interest in reselling.

of course that strategy does not apply to all, e.g. “disposable” books meant to be read once, or overpriced kindle books. (for “disposable,” i just line up at the library)

but there’s a sweet spot for kindle: books which are keepers and can be obtained cheaply. classic books that are out of copyright can also be found as free kindle editions (minus the essays and footnotes of contemporary academic editions). another plus for the kindle is that of multiple dictionaries which let you read with ease in many languages (including archaic forms).

UK-with-kids
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by UK-with-kids »

Thanks @everyone for the comments.
The Old Man wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:56 pm
I have an Amazon Kindle. Generally, I prefer to use the Kindle app on my computer. It is much more user friendly than the e-reader itself.
I forgot to mention that I do have a very old Amazon Kindle that somebody gave me. It's definitely not very nice to use. It doesn't even have a touchscreen, which shows how old it is!
Scott 2 wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 6:23 pm
What sort of e-lending option are available to you via the local library?
I looked into this and it seems there is very little available. I searched for a few titles that I was interested in reading, most of them fairly mainstream books, and none were available as e-books even though they were all for sale on Amazon as Kindle downloadables. The library did have some of them as physical books, but mostly with a long wait time.
Dream of Freedom wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:09 pm
Why not try the kindle app on your phone first? Download a free book
...
and just see if you like reading in the digital format before deciding. If you like it then getting a dedicated e-reader might be a good option. If you prefer paper at least you know.
That's a great suggestion. I didn't realise you could replicate the Kindle experience on a phone or computer. At least that way I could spend a few pounds (dollars) and see how I feel about it compared to buying the physical book. If it seems ok then I could still buy a Kindle later and transfer the books onto it.
ember wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:55 am
I have a Kindle Fire which cost about £80, although it may be possible to get a special offer on it on Prime Day or Black Friday. I mainly use it to read books either on the Kindle app or on Overdrive which is the app for my local library. It's about the same size as a mini ipad but a little chunkier. The screen is fine and you can adjust the font size and the brightness level. I also like the fact that it's cheap and cheerful so if it gets broken I won't be devastated. I've had mine for about 3 years, it's accompanied me on many travels and trips to the gym, and I'd definitely recommend it as a relatively frugal option.
Thanks! These seem even cheaper than Kindles. I'm not sure if offers much advantage over what I already have though other than size, being larger than a phone and smaller than a computer. I could probably pick up a cheap tablet somewhere and use it as a PDF reader I guess.

-----

I think my biggest problem is that I want to read specific books which are still relatively expensive on a Kindle, and I feel like I'm spending say £7 to £10 on something non-tangible that I can't lend or pass on as I wish. I've spent a lot of time in bookshops in my life and I really love physical books - the sensation of holding them, the smell, everything! I do accept the limitations that people have pointed out.

And I really don't want to spend even more time reading stuff on my phone :(

Tomorrow I think I'm going to visit a highbrow secondhand bookshop nearby and see what I can pick up. But I will also try to look out for other options like borrowing books from within my social circle. I'm pretty sure there are multiple copies of the books that interest me, just sitting unread on local people's bookshelves.

Sorry to the tech fans as I seem to have gone back into my comfort zone on this :roll:

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Alphaville
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Alphaville »

if you love physical books then i hear (but have not verified) that the kindle paperwhite offers the best approximation.

nevertheless it sounds like real paper has the advantage for you, plus the places to enjoy them.

the 2nd hand bookstores around me closed long ago or moved to online dealing so no longer an option. :(

7Wannabe5
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I must admit that I read books on my phone apps more often that not these-a-days. I like to always have at least 10 books I might want to read at hand, and when I am moving about as much as I have been lately, carrying more than about 3 bound books at a time is a hassle.

If/when I settle down to a less mobile existence, this ratio will likely change, because I do enjoy the aesthetics and social aspects of a cottage library.

Scott 2
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Scott 2 »

IMO immediate access to free books is what makes an e-reader a strong win. Without a good library option, I'd have a hard time recommending it.

I do wonder if a paid library membership could be worth it for you:

https://mentalpivot.com/paid-library-ca ... nd-ebooks/
https://www.aworldadventurebybook.com/b ... privileges


I'd encourage anyone reading on a phone to try a kindle.

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Alphaville
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Alphaville »

ooooooooooh wow i just found what i was looking for, thanks so much!

brooklyn has 110k overdrive titles!

Scott 2
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by Scott 2 »

Between Hoopla and Overdrive, my local library system gives instant access to ~200k titles. It is amazing.

The membership option is a good deal. My property taxes contribute a $146 year per to the library system. That works out to $73 a person for my household, but we will get our money's worth.

Something others may not know - it is very possible you could borrow a kindle from the library, pre loaded with books. Modern libraries act as a social center, making knowledge of all forms accessible. They lend a variety of devices - e-readers, video games systems, streaming sticks, even everything you need for making a movie. Early in my ERE journey, I was able to borrow a kill-a-watt.

RealPerson
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by RealPerson »

I used a kindle app for years before buying one. I hated buying yet another piece of technology that will eventually become obsolete. The app will help you decide if e-books are for you.

To me, Kindles are quite reliable devices, easy to use and quite useful. I have no regrets about buying mine. I love the convenience of having my entire digital book library with me and I really like the searchable feature of digital books. Having said that, I know people who hate reading digital books. I encourage you to figure out how you take to the ebook format before committing to buying a kindle. And I would definitely consider buying a used one. These things seem to last.

UK-with-kids
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Re: Buying an e-reader

Post by UK-with-kids »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:17 am
Tomorrow I think I'm going to visit a highbrow secondhand bookshop nearby and see what I can pick up. But I will also try to look out for other options like borrowing books from within my social circle. I'm pretty sure there are multiple copies of the books that interest me, just sitting unread on local people's bookshelves.

Sorry to the tech fans as I seem to have gone back into my comfort zone on this :roll:
I didn't enjoy my visit to the bookshop very much. Mainly because I had to wear a mask and couldn't breathe properly seeing as I had just biked there. Plus they didn't have the book I wanted, or in fact any books on the subject I was interested in. Which was stoicism, ironically enough.
Alphaville wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:27 am
the 2nd hand bookstores around me closed long ago or moved to online dealing so no longer an option. :(
They're mostly charity shops in the UK now [edit: that means 'thrift stores']. They're the only ones that are economic to run as they don't have to pay business rates (a kind of property tax on business premises), they usually get their stock (inventory) for free, and they often don't have to pay their staff, or at least not all of them.

----

So I've mainly been reading books on that ancient Kindle which I forgot I had. I don't find it very easy to read in dim light, so I'm not sure if that's my eyes or the quality of the device. It certainly doesn't look 'paper white;, it's more like a 1990s wordprocessor or a calculator screen. But I don't seem to mind not having the physical books so far. And using Calibre and/or googling for PDFs, there seems to be no shortage of interesting things to read for free.

I might still treat myself to a better quality Kindle, although in the back of my mind I'm worried that the Amazon policing system might block the device and delete all my books if I have something on there that isn't entirely within the rules of copyright.
Last edited by UK-with-kids on Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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