Frank Chooses an E-Reader
Let Valhalla Press and our mascot, Frank, help you find the perfect e-reader. We cut through the hype and get down to basics.
First, ask yourself a simple question. Do I need an e-reader at all? All the major e-book sellers have ‘apps’ that allow you to buy and download their e-books onto other devices like your desktop or laptop computer, your tablet or your smart phone. But reading a long work on your phone isn’t a lot of fun and most people don’t want to curl up with their laptop in bed to read. If this describes you, read on.
Readers who own a tablet may be tempted to forego a separate e-reader if they are comfortable with the way the tablet feels while reading longer works. Others may want something smaller and easier to hold. Plus, dedicated e-readers allow easy viewing in sunlight for reading on the deck or at the beach.
Here’s how the major competitors stack up:
While various e-readers have been around for a while, it wasn’t until Amazon launched the Kindle that e-readers really caught fire. Today, it remains the most popular stand-alone e-reader.Readers have several versions to from which to choose.
The basic Kindle model weighs just under 6 ounces and holds up to 1,400 e-books. Not backlit, but it has no glare in the sun, making it perfect for reading at the beach or in the backyard. This is the most affordable e-reader Amazon offers and a great basic model.
The Kindle Keyboard is slightly heavier, at 8.5 ounces and holds up to 3,500 e-books. Because it has built in 3G, readers can download new book purchases anywhere there is 3G cell service. Also works over wireless networks.
The Kindle Paperwhite is a new addition to the Kindle line-up. It weights about 7.5 ounces and features a backlight for reading in the dark. The 3G model works anywhere in the world where there is 3G cell service, making it perfect for frequent travelers or readers who live outside the US and Canada. It holds up to 1,100 books.
Finally, there is the Kindle Fire series - a sort of cross between a Kindle e-reader and a tablet computer. It has a color touch screen and allows you to watch movies, download email and cruise the Internet, among other features. Those features come at a heavy price, though. The Fire basic model weights in at 14.1 ounces, more than twice as much as the basic Kindle and prices start around $160 and go all the way up to about $500 for a device that is essentially a tablet computer rather than a dedicated e-reader.
Barnes and Noble’s Nook
Barnes and Noble saw the writing on the wall when Borders went bankrupt. As the biggest remaining bricks and mortars chain bookstore in the U.S., Barnes and Noble watched Amazon sell print books at discounts it could seldom match. Then came the Kindle. Barnes and Noble countered with the Nook e-reader. The device is doing well enough that Microsoft has invested over $600 million in the Nook and college textbook segments of Barnes and Noble’s business.
The Nook Simple Touch is the company’s basic device. It weights in at 7.5 ounces and holds up to 1,000 e-books. In addition, it has an expansion slot for more storage.
The company’s latest offering is the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. This device is backlit, allowing for reading in bed with the lights out or outside at night. It weighs slightly less than 7 ounces.
The Nook Color is the company’s entry into the e-reader-tablet market. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Color performs other tasks in addition to serving as an e-reader. It weights in at 15.8 ounces and holds up to 5,000 e-books. It is also hard to read in sunlight.
The next Barnes and Noble choice is the Nook Tablet series. The basic model is a device similar to the Kindle Fire. It allows readers to download email, browse the web, watch movies and read e-books. With a few more features than the Nook Color, the device may be right for some readers who don’t want to invest several hundred dollars more for an entry-level iPad. The company also offers several other models in the series. These are essentially basic tablet computers rather than dedicated e-readers.
Another option is Canadian bookseller Kobo’s e-readers. Though not as well known in the US as the Kindle and the Nook, the company does have something the others don’t - fashion colors like lime green and hot pink. Of course, that shouldn’t be the determining factor. Fortunately, the Kobo e-readers have other features.
The Kobo Mini is the smallest e-reader on the market. It weighs an amazing 4.73 ounces and easily fits in a pocket since it measures just 4” by a little more than 5”. It holds up to 1,000 ebooks.
The Kobo Glo is backlit and weighs just 6.5 ounces. It also holds about 1,000 e-books. At about 6” high, it is larger than the Kobo Mini but still light enough for comfortable reading.
The Kobo Touch is also a Wi Fi device, but allows touch screen navigation. It weighs a mere 6.5 ounces. With the optional memory card, it will hold over 30,000 e-books.
The Kobo Arc is Kobo’s entry into the crossover e-reader tablet market. With a color screen, email access and other tablet features, it weighs in at 12.8 ounces. Kobo claims reading in sunlight is possible. Frank hasn’t had a chance to test this one yet.
The iPad is technically not an e-reader, but a tablet. In fact, it’s the tablet that started the tablet revolution. The iPad does work as an e-reader and is light enough to hold while reading. It comes with the Apple iBooks app built in. The iBooks app is elegant. You can easily flip from page to page. Some publishers have capitalized on the iPad’s advanced capabilities, allowing readers to turn the page so that it looks like an actual page is being turned, complete with print bleed through. It’s a gorgeous display. It is also backlit so that reading in bed with the lights out is no problem. On the minus side, it is hard to read in sunlight.
Apple has also introduces a mini version of the iPad. The Mini weighs a little less than 11 ounces and has most the functionality of bigger version. This is essentially Apple’s entry into the dedicated e-reader market, plus all the other basic functions the iPad provides.
An added bonus is that all the major e-reader apps can be downloaded to either iPad version. That means you can read Kindle and Nook books on the iPad, freeing you from being tethered to a particular device.
Nothing beats the Kindle Paperwhite for simple e-reading - and it tastes good too. Perfect to carry in a briefcase, backpack, or purse, it is truly a portable e-reader. The NOOK Simple Touch will do nicely for those that don’t want to support the Amazon juggernaut. For other e-reading, especially books with color content or advanced interactive features, it’s the iPad that wins out.
04/05/2013 03:28 AM
Due to the large number of entries in our two contests, the judges are running behind schedule in providing feedback to those who submitted works. For those of you who have not yet received feedback, the judges expect to have them all completed by April 15. We apologize for any inconvenience, but rest assured feedback is coming soon.
The Spring 2013 issue of Ragnarok- the e-lit journal of Valhalla Press is available in Kindle form from our website for $3.99. Even if you don't own a Kindle, you may download the issue to your PC or MAC. The Fall/Winter 2012 issue is now available for .99.
03/14/2013 02:57 AM
For five days, starting March 14, readers may download a FREE Kindle copy of J. Calvin Pierce's The Door to Ambermere from Amazon. For those who haven't read the first in Pierce's trilogy, this is an opportunity to enjoy a light-hearted fantasy at no cost. If you read the original 20 years ago when this cult classic was first published, you have another chance to travel with Daniel, Hannah, and Marcia through the Door to Ambermere to meet such memorable characters as the bumbling magician, Rogan, and the insatiable King Asbrak the Fat. Oh yes, there is a demon and a beautiful lady involved.
Amazon prime members may borrow a copy of Door to Ambermere free. Amazon limits the number of books members can borrow to one per month.
03/04/2013 09:16 PM
The judgements have all been rendered and the roll will be called in Valhalla. As stated previously, the winner of the Valhalla Press Flash Fiction/Flash Memoir Writing Contest is Robert Robeson for his story of heroism in Vietnam "Doc Drevo's Disarming Decision". Second prize went to Orla McAlinden for her memoir of growing up in Northern Ireland entitled "Control Zone." Two honorable mention winners from the contest will also have their work appear in Ragnarok-the e-lit journal of Valhalla Press. Jo Haraf's flash fiction piece, "Cherry" tells the story of how an old car leads to a new relationship. Satya Khan's flash memoir, "The Absence", explores postpartum depression.
We had a double winner in the Valhalla Press Legal Professionals Writing Contest. Mark Levine took first prize for his work "Margaret Mead". His story, "The Pain Industry" garnered honorable mention as well. Dominic Carew's legal-dystopian vision (a new genre, perhaps?), "The Documents", took second prize. Joel Burcat won honorable mention kudos for his novel excerpt, "The Executioners". Congratulations to all of our winners.
Ragnarok's Spring 2013 issue will also feature three directly submitted fiction pieces. Joseph Peacock's "Old" looks into an aging man's attempt to redefine himself in his later years. Wendy Robert's "Ouroboros" is set in Belgium shortly after the Nazi's retreated. Finally, Benjamin R. Smith's "Two in the House of Happy Air" explores a future where the arts are illegal.
03/01/2013 11:34 PM
Robert Robeson has won First Place in the Flash Fiction and Flash Memoir Contest for his story "Doc Drevo's Disarming Decision," which will appear in the next issue of Ragnarok the e-lit Journal. He won $500 and a Kindle Paperwhite.
03/01/2013 09:49 PM
Mr. Mark Levine won First Place for his story "Margaret Mead." He received $500 plus a Kindle Fire and publication in the next issue of Ragnarok the e-lit journal.