June 17, 2010 | Permalink
In the middle ages, books were gigantic, illuminated behemoths that took years to make. In 1440, Guttenberg invented the printing press, the mass-market paperback (well, its early ancestor anyway) entered the marketplace and the world was forever changed. With the arrival of the Internet, books, like so many other things, are undergoing an identity crisis.
It seems that portable electronic reading technology has been out for a long time now, but how many people actually use it? Well, more than you think. And with more and more people becoming attuned to advanced electronics, digital immigrants are slowly fading. Why make the leap? Electronic reading devices are much less cumbersome than books, for starters, no matter how small you make the typeface or how thin the pages are. They are ideal for road warriors, because nobody wants to lug around thick, heavy novels, especially with the growing restrictions in airline luggage. But what’s the best way to read electronically? That’s a matter of personal choice, but with some sleuthing around, you’ll find the best for you.
- Apple iPad. The iPad is probably the device that is going to drive the trend from paper to digital mediums in the reading world. We’re not the only people to claim this, but let’s just pretend you heard it here first. This multifunctional device is not just an eReader but also a digital media powerhouse. Apple has also launched the iBooks program through the Apple Store and has signed contracts to distribute works from most major publishing houses.
- Subscription-based eReaders. The leader in this market is no longer the Kindle, as the Barnes & Noble Nook has overtaken it in sales. Both are similar devices, relatively speaking. The Kindle offers some snazzy features like being able to add annotations and bookmarking your pages, while the Nook has a better screen than the anachronistic monocolor Kindle. Here is a detailed comparison between these two main competitors. Also in this division are Sony’s line of Readers, which are sleek and stylish, but also pricey.
- Smartphones. Our phones are managing all aspects of our lives, so why not add our reading habits to the list? Most phones are equipped with programs for reading most eBook formats right out of the box, and if they aren’t, there’s an app for it! Smartphones offer one huge plus over all the other competition: the convenience of having all your electronic devices centralized, but with their small screens, they do not create an easy reading space, especially for people with less than stellar eyesight.
While it should be noted that you must pay for many current eBooks, there are many online bookshelves for free download. A quick Google search will lead you in the right direction, but Road Warrior likes Bartleby and Free-eBooks the most.
If you are not ready to make the dive just yet into the eBook world, there is an easy and cheap way to put together a good old-fashioned travel-reading list. PaperbackSwap is an online community of lit lovers who trade their precious paperbacks (and some hardbacks) to one another without worrying about cost. It’s free to join, and you even get two free credits when you sign up. (That’s two free books!)
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