Let’s Talk eBook Readers
In the recent years, development in nanotechnology has touched such new ground that it seems incomprehensible where this exodus of miniature world-at-a-touch gadget phenomenon really began. But one cannot be surprised to note that this technological market had to, some day, no matter how badly the purists would want to delay this, reach the pages of our books. eBook Readers have flooded the market in the last half of the 2000s and revolutionized the way we read and receive our daily dose of infotainment, be it newspapers, magazines or good ol’ leisure reading.
But the problem with this deluge of options is just that. Choosing becomes more confusing than ever. If one is at all inclined to read online as students are, especially those strapped for cash, eBooks offer a cheap (if not free) alternative to the original paper-book. Moreover, with online commercial sites such as Flipkart, the latest titles in the publishing world, not to mention e-versions of magazines and newspapers are now available at the touch of a button and a figurative swipe of the credit card. And this is serious business too. Consumer satisfaction is the modus operandi. These eBook reader companies, that include juggernauts such as Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (Nook), must provide the consumers with not only high quality Readers, but also a ready market of books and suchlike to suit the needs of the many kind of readers they cater to.
Anything you could ask for, these companies, like a genie in a bottle, will make come true, at a price. No free lunches after all. If you are feeling so inclined, what eBook Reader should you go for? Like I said, abundance of options always poses a problem, especially if the features you desire in your Reader are dispersed over various kinds and models of the same. But overall, if one were to recommend a Reader to you, seeing the Indian market, which one would it be? That’s a tricky question, dear readers, and one that would require some exploring. But not to worry, we’ll get your research started and on the road!
Mainly, there are a few giant players in the eBook market that not only occupy quite a portion of the market share, but also deliver accordingly. First on the list is of course Amazon’s Kindle, a Reader that exploded on the market and blew away everyone’s preconceived notions about reading on a screen. It started with a simple button Reader and then went on to some more crazy innovative brilliance with Pearl eInk, touchscreen and frontlighting (for those readers that value the strength of their eyes). All good? Sadly, there are some down sides. For example, there is the fact that Kindle works exclusively with the Amazon approved (.azw) .mobi file format. This is seriously limiting, especially in the light of the fact that the most popular file format as of 2013 is the .epub one. Not to mention the fact that due to the exclusivity of the .azw (mobi) file format, Kindle successfully prevents the buyer-reader from purchasing books from any other online store except Amazon’s own. This closed market strategy does mean that Amazon’s readers will remain forever faithful (or for however long their Reader lasts) to it, but this has also been the focal point of all criticism hurled at the Kindle. All in all, however, considering the fervor with which Amazon has begun to establish itself in the Indian market, if you were to buy an eBook reader right now, and were willing to be content with Amazon’s online market (itself the biggest amongst its competitors), you could not go wrong with the Kindle Paperwhite, prices starting at Rs. 10,990.
Next in line is Barnes and Noble’s Nook, now available in India through online commercial portals, and some serious competition to the Kindle. It has the second biggest market share in eBook Readers, and well deserved too. The books on this one are in .epub, which comes as a relief to a lot of readers not willing to invest in Kindle’s .mobi fad. The prices are almost the same between the two companies. The catch? Technology wise, at least according to personal reader usages, one tends to hear that the quality of Kindle far trumps Nook’s. There is the other matter that Barnes and Noble’s store is not as impressive or as large as Kindle’s.
Then there is the other matter of .pdf files. Since these are not text based files but image based ones, Readers such as Kindle and Nook, that work on eInk, find it immensely difficult to process such books. What is difficult about this particular drawback is the fact that most eBooks, including academic papers and journals, are available as .pdf online. In that case, what may one do? As far as reader reviews are concerned, most say that Kindle Paperwhite, though still tedious, one-ups the game for other eInk Readers in the market – it is slightly faster. Pinch of salt at the ready though, one must read this with. On the other hand, LCD tablets such as the exorbitant iPad mini or the cheaper alternative of Samsung Tablets read .pdf files like a dream. Not too surprised then, are we, when we see LCD Tablet options emerging from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well? It is clear that the eBook market has a strong enough presence to command innovation and fierce competition at each step. So here you have it, all that you need to know to choose. And if all this seems too mind boggling, there is always that paperback to curl up with!