The experience that most closely mimics reading a print book is using one of the e-readers with black and white e-ink pages. The market is dominated by Sony, Kobo and Kindle devices. They range from the base models (about $69) that require you to download books from a seller’s site while hooked to your home computer, to newer wi-fi and touch-screen models that allow you to buy books on the go (up to $199). Be careful, this is a convenient but potentially budget-stretching option for an avid book buyer.
These are dedicated book devices, so no surfing the web or checking e-mails. E-books are slightly cheaper to purchase than print books, so depending upon your reading and purchasing pace the e-reader can pay for itself fairly quickly. Remember, no late fees at the library. The lack of distraction from e-mail and the lure of web surfing can also be helpful for readers who are easily seduced to other media.
Before you head to the store, go to your library’s website so that you know what format they support, otherwise, you might end up with a device where purchasing books is your only option. Talk to friends who have e-readers and do some online research for comparisons. Define what is important to you as a reader. Do you need a dictionary? Do you need wi-fi? Once you are clear about what you need, go to a store and handle the various devices to see which you prefer. Remember to ask where you can buy books that are compatible with this specific reader.
You can read an e-book on your laptop, computer, iPad or tablet, iPod, cellphone and Play Station Portable or the Nintendo DS. The Play Station and Nintendo options are more cumbersome to turn into readers, but it can be done, and instructions are available online.
To use an existing device to read an e-book, download an app so that you can read your books, magazines, and newspapers anywhere. Just be sure that the app is compatible with the source where you purchased the original material. For example, if you buy books from Kobo for your Kobo reader, you need the Kobo app to be able to read that same material on your other devices. There are some conversion software options available if you purchase from multiple sources, but if you go that route, you will need to be more comfortable playing with the technology.
Some e-reader producers have entered into the tablet market so that users can surf the internet and check e-mails in addition to reading e-books. These devices range from $200 up to $600 for their multiple offerings.