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