E-Books, Part 4: Electronic Reading Devices

Most people want to get comfortable when reading for pleasure (or even for professional development and education). Sitting at a computer to read a book doesn’t appeal to us.

That’s why I prefer to read on an e-book reading device. There are a number of different devices on the market that are suitable for reading e-books. I use the eBookWise reader.

I can download books directly from their site, and I can import personal documents in html, Word, rtf, or txt formats. So if I buy an e-book at a publisher’s Web site, I order it in one of those formats and import it to my e-book librarian. From there I can add it to my reading device any time. The eBookWise holds 10 to 15 books and additional memory can increase that significantly.

I also use the device to read the final draft of books I edit – I can make notes and highlight text to mark the errors and correct them in the computer. It’s not good for major editing, though, because it’s double work. But I like doing the final read-through (when there should be few mistakes left) in the reading device because it’s more like the experience as a reader and gives me a little different perspective.

The eBookWise does NOT read PDF files, so if I get a book in PDF, I have to convert it to Word, then import it to the librarian. And if the PDF is encrypted – I don’t read it. That’s my biggest complaint about the readerĀ – and I would like the largest font to be a little larger.

The first e-book reader on the market (at least as far as I know) was the Rocket eBook, and it was the best. Unfortunately, the original developer sold out to one of the big electronic companies, and they took an excellent product and made it a good product. I dropped my Rocket on a tile floor and shattered it (after I’d had it for several years and read hundreds of books on it), so now I’m using the eBookWise, which is a later version of the Rocket eBook replacement.

There are a lot of things happening in the world of e-books, and Teleread reports on the latest gadgets on their blog. Those of us who love e-books have been hoping for years that someone would come out with the ideal reader. There are some good ones on the marketĀ – but not the perfect one yet.

You can read e-books on your Palm, other PDAs, and handheld computers. E-book reading software is included with many devices; with others you can add programs (almost always free) such as Adobe eBook Reader, Mobipocket, or Microsoft Reader.

You can find information and comparisons of various software and devices at the following sites:

I hope this overview of e-books has been helpful. Please let me know in comments if you have specific questions or if you would like to read more about e-books and electronic publishing.

Updated 8/5/07: I’ve discovered a great new resource on e-book technology: Tech From an E-booker’s Viewpoint, the blog of Dr. Ellen Hage, who owns more e-book devices than most people own books.

Updated 4/23/09: A reader commented asking if the Kindle 2: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation) is an e-book reader. It certainly is, and I own an original version and love it. However, it did not exist when this post was originally written. Since then, I have written two posts on the device:
Dream or Destiny and the Kindle
What Will the Kindle Do for the E-Publishing Industry?

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