Posted in book reviews, teachers' resources, what we're reading

Do you read ebooks? (An e-reader review)

I love reading, but I never thought about curling up with an ebook. Then I got sick and ended up in hospital—all of a sudden I found myself curled up with an ebook (or seven!).

Sony recently offered to lend me a Sony Reader, Touch Edition (PRS-650) to review.

I haven’t tried any other e-readers yet, but here’s what I liked about this one:

"Sony Touch"
The Sony Reader, Touch Edition I reviewed.
  • It wasn’t ‘backlit’—my eyes didn’t get tired like they do when I read on a computer screen. It was like reading the pages of a paper book.
  • It was quite thin, and was like holding a book.
  • It had a built-in dictionary, so I could check words I didn’t know. (Actually, it supposedly had TWELVE dictionaries, but I could only find one. Maybe it’s because I was in hospital … )
  • I had about 10 books with me on the e-reader, and I read 7 while I was in hospital. And it was a lot more convenient to have them on an e-reader than carry around 10 paper books.
  • I could bookmark a page by double tapping in the corner. The next time the e-reader was switched on, it went straight to that page.
  • I could adjust the font size (I liked the words to be bigger at night, when my eyes were more tired and the light in my room wasn’t very bright.)
  • There is a stylus that goes with it, and and I could make notes on the screen while reading.
  • I could listen to audiobooks as well as read ebooks. I didn’t actually test the audiobook part while I was in hospital though.
  • I could buy ebooks off some online bookstores (Sony purchased Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children from Borders for me. I’ll post a review here soon.) I could also upload some ebooks for free—like Jane Austen’s books, now out of copyright. (When I’m not reading children’s books, I like to read Jane Austen.)
  • It would be handy to take on holidays, on the train or bus and WHEN YOU’RE IN HOSPITAL. It’s small enough and light enough to put in a bag or backpack.

Here’s what I didn’t like about this e-reader:

  • I couldn’t find the other 11 dictionaries and the one I had used American spelling. (But it’s possible the other 11 weren’t that hard to find and I just needed to try harder  … other people who own this e-reader tell me they had no trouble finding 12 dictionaries!)
  • The dictionary didn’t have a definition for every word I tried out.
  • This e-reader is in black-and-white, so even if it includes a picture of the book cover, it’s not as cool as the cover on a real book. (I like looking at the covers of books I’m reading.)
  • I like the feel of paper pages. Swiping your finger to turn pages was fun, but it’s not the same as feeling real paper. (Maybe that’s an old-person thing!)

And e-readers in general: I read a lot of picture books but you couldn’t read a picture book on an e-reader like this because the screen is so small and it’s not in colour. (I haven’t tried an iPad yet, perhaps picture books work OK on one of those.) I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed reading ebooks after all and I will miss having an e-reader when this one goes back to Sony. ebooks would never replace all my paper books at home, but I can see myself using an e-reader when I go on holidays or take a bus or train. (Hopefully I won’t need to use one in hospital ever again … )

What about you? Have you tried an e-reader or do you think they’re a bad idea? Do you think they are just too expensive for kids? If you had one, do you think it would replace all the books and/or school books you own? (What would you do with all that bookshelf space?)

~ Rebecca


This post was added by Rebecca Newman. Rebecca is a children's writer and poet, and the editor of the Australian children's literary blog, Alphabet Soup. For more about Rebecca visit:

5 thoughts on “Do you read ebooks? (An e-reader review)

  1. I do have an e-reader, a Kindle,and since last Christmas when I received it I’ve read far more than I usually do. I’ve been a profiic reader since childhood but the sheer portability of the Kindle means Im now reading four or five books a week. I have a disability and find holding books for along time difficult and this e-reader solved this problem as it is so light. I do have an Ipad and while it is excellent for examining picture books(and prints, engravings etc)in great detail, it is heavier and back lit so can’t be used with as much ease as the Kindle when it comes to reading. I love to have it with me while I’m travelling as it means I’m never without anything to read and the long battery life is a bonus(as is the newly established UK books Kindle store)

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with a different e-reader. It sounds like we love the same aspects of e-readers. I particularly love that the e-readers aren’t backlit, so I’m not sure if I had an iPad that I would use it as an e-reader for that reason. My eyes get really tired reading a computer screen.

      Four or five books a week is impressive. 🙂 Do you mostly buy your ebooks, or stick to free ones? i could go crazy uploading all the free ones!

      ~ Rebecca

  2. I have the original sony e-reader pocket edition. I love it, its easy to carry around and like you said its great when you go on Holiday. Would I buy it for my children? I’m struggling with that answer these days. My 7 year old LOVES to read and can read chapter books pretty quickly, part of me says get her an e-reader she’ll love it. But the other part of me says, there’s nothing like getting a new book or going to the library and trying to figure out what you want to take home next. I think for a little while longer I’ll let her enjoy that trip to the library and the thrill of going to Barnes and Nobles to get a new book.

  3. I got given a sony prs 505 and I haven’t looked back. My reading has switched from 100% paper books to about 20% paper 80% ebooks. I was reading in bed the other day and had one version of each ie an ebook and the same title as paper version. Preferred the eBook as i could hold with one hand and turn pages with my thumb. I have considered geting a kindle a there are still some titles that I can’t get in epub

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