13 Sep 2010

E-reader review: BeBook One

I've had my e-reader for almost 9 months now, and am still really pleased by it, but it definitely does have its pros and cons.

My e-reader is a BeBook One from Endless Ideas. I've never tried reading books on any other e-readers (although I've briefly had my hands on both a Sony E-reader, a Kindle and an iPad), so this isn't a review of one e-reader compared to another, but of e-readers vs. paper books in general.

Pros:
It's a great conversation starter! I mostly use it when travelling, and have had several fellow train-/bus passengers ask me what it was or "Oh, is that that Amazon thing?" Obviously that isn't so good for shy people, but I love talking books in any shape or form, so it's never bothered me :)

It's so handy when I'm away on vacation! As you know, I read a LOT, so trying to guesstimate how many books to bring with me is always interesting. I hate being caught short (although that's of course more of an issue when going on vacations where I can't just go out and buy a new book, so not so relevant when going to London ;) ), so I tend to pack one for every second day or so, which can get rather heavy at times. With the e-reader I just need to bring one average-sized book and I have enough reading materials for several years :-D

E-books are cheaper than paper books. Not in Denmark though! You definitely don't want to buy e-books here. They are still so new that they often cost 2-3 times as much as a paper book. However, I can get hold of English books online, and there are several places where it's possible to find free e-books either for keeps or to loan.

It's nifty and a shiny new toy! Yes, my geeky heart loves new gadgets :) One of my colleagues saw me receive it (it was sent to work) and though he first laughed at me, he then admitted that new toys were great and new toys with cables were even greater ;)

Cons:
Yup, nifty and shiny, but not nearly as cozy as paper books. Apparently I have a great emotional attachment to the act of physically turning pages, feeling how many pages I've already read, and feeling how many pages are left. Seeing the number slowly increase just isn't the same.

It's really best for reading from A-Z. Flipping through a book to look for something specific is almost impossible. First of all because I tend to remember where things were written by how the book "feels" (approx. how many pages are left, was it on a right or a left page etc.) rather than the specific page number. Secondly it just takes too long to turn a page. Depending on the format and the size of the book it can take anything from 0.5-3 seconds to turn a page.

Apart from the sensation of reading paper books vs. e-books, there's also the issue of a physical library vs. a digital one. I'm proud of the library I've managed to put together by now. I would like it to be bigger, but who wouldn't?! ;) I like looking at my books, picking out old favourites to read a page here and a paragraph there. I like seeing a wall full of books and knowing that I've read them all. Looking at folders on a computer just isn't the same. Also I like having guests comment on my books and loaning books to others - and most people I know feel a LOT more comfortable browsing bookshelves in a living room, than browsing folders on a computer. The former is perfectly acceptable within etiquette, the latter definitely isn't unless expressed permission has been given.

An e-reader is a lot more egoistic than physical books. Mum didn't bring along enough books when we were on vacation together last. Had this been BER (Before E-Reader ;) ) I could just have given her one of mine to read, as I was bound to have brought several, but we couldn't very well both use the e-reader at the same time, so I couldn't be of any help. And I like being of help!

BeBook itself:
I got the BeBook One because it by far supported the most formats (lit, doc, rtf, txt, pdf, epub, html - just to mention the most common ones). At the time I received it, I'd never had my hands on any other e-readers, so I had nothing to compare it to. However, since then I've also seen a Kindle and the Sony e-reader, and I can see that it's definitely more low-tech than those two. It only has the most necessary features (page turn, zoom), no touch screen or keyboard, the screen's a very dark grey (similar to the old Palm) and it takes longer to turn a page than on the Kindle and the Sony e-reader.

My sensible self is satisfied with it. It fulfills its purpose, and that's really all I need it to do. My geeky self thinks it would be nice with something a bit more high tech and is seriously considering buying a Sony E-reader when I'm in London next ;) Or I might wait a couple of years until I see what actually becomes available in Denmark. Since I'm not out to replace my physical library with an electronic one (far from it!), I can say patient a while longer :)

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