The World According to Renee

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The Kobo E-Reader

I love to read. I can easily read a whole book (not a Mr Men, but a 300 page novel) in a day. I don’t know how many books I currently own, but I’ve at least started them all… and will finish them one day. I write this and look at His Dark Materials, which I got three Christmases ago and still haven’t gotten past the first page…

During a frequent trip to Borders, I saw their new e-reader, the Kobo (an anagram of Book). It was love at first sight. It’s priced at $199, which beats the Kindle by some $60, comes with 100 pre-loaded books (all classics on the public domain, which suits me just fine!) and it’s lightweight and easy to read.

I finally got one this week, thanks to my lovely boyfriend. Here are my thoughts on the Kobo:

Easy To Read
I like the contrast of the e-ink. It’s like reading a book printed on slightly darker paper. The font can be changed and so can the size. I’m happy to read the smallest print but my mum reads the largest. With the small font, it holds as much text as a regular paperback. The thing about the iPhone app is that it only holds 16 lines of text, which makes it unreadable for a fast reader like me.

Response time is a little slow
It takes a moment to do something after you press a button, but thus is the nature of e-ink and the small processor it would contain. It’s not touchscreen, which I’m happy about because it means the screen doesn’t have grotty fingerprints all over it.

Good Choice of E-Books
What they don’t tell you is, there are several sites to buy Kobo e-books. I got my Kobo through Angus & Robertson, who install their own app onto your PC desktop. I also installed the Borders Kobo app and bookmarked http://www.kobobooks.com , all of which are compatible to download books onto the device. A&R have more e-books than Borders, and I found the Kobo books website to be difficult to look around as it only shows recommended reads and not a full browsing section. The prices between the three also differ. The first e-book I bought was Jane Slayre. The original Jane Eyre is on the public domain (i.e. out of copyright) and someone has re-written passages to make Jane into a vampire slayer. On Kobo books, it was about $15. A&R had it for $13.95 and Borders had it for $10.95. It pays to shop around, although I found A&R have more books than Borders. It’s easy to browse and buy, it’s basic point and click stuff and saves your details for the next time you use them. The advertising I’ve seen promises 2 million titles… but you gotta know where to look.

The reasons I wanted an e-reader:
Well, I read a lot, and books are heavy. The Kobo weighs less than the average paperback and slim enough to fit into any handbag.

The books I read a lot are now worn 😦 I have books from when I was a teenager which are now held together with sticky tape. It shows how loved they are. E-books won’t degrade and won’t be stained with coffee cup rings, dog drool or dog-eared pages. Mice won’t nest from the pages when in storage (I’ve lost a lot of books that way 😦  ) and I can delete books from the device while keeping them in my library on the computer. I can store up to 1000 books on the device and up to 4000 if I get a memory card (a generic one will do).

Downloads are instant; no more waiting two weeks for Amazon to ship an order. If I’m reading more than one book, I don’t need to go back to the menu to find a book- everything I’m reading is listed on one page which is accessed with a push of a button. It saves the page I’m up to as well, so I don’t need to scroll to find the last page I read.

The books are also much cheaper than printed copies. A hardcover is often over $40. E-books range from free (public domain pieces such as Jane Eyre or Alice in Wonderland) to $30 for a recent and popular release. However it’s rare for an e-book to be that expensive. The prices really have a wide range which differs between stores.

Obviously, e-books don’t need paper, so they save trees from certain death. You do have to charge the Kobo using a computer and USB cable, so it’s not entirely free from environmental guilt.

All in all, I love my new Kobo. There was an adjusting period where I tried to flip a page by going to the top right hand corner of the device and trying to flip it manually… but I really think e-readers are the future of reading. It will save money for schools. Remember being handed a novel in high school? I imagine children having an e-reader and just downloading the required novel, then deleting after use if desired. There’s probably a link in the fancier e-readers so you can read the plotlines, themes and characters on wikipedia…

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June 25, 2010 - Posted by | Reviews

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