Category Archives: Technology

Less people are reading e-books than expected

E-Books Or Paper Books

My wife and I constantly discourage our daughter from using gadgets such as her iPad or our mobile phones, especially for reading books. We prefer that she reads paper books.

On my blog I have written multiple times in favour of e-books and I myself am a great fan of e-books. Almost all the books that I read these days are either on my Kindle reader or my Android tablet.

I don’t know if it is real or rumour, Steve Jobs, when he was alive, didn’t allow his kids to use either the iPad or the iPhone. Again, I don’t know if it is real or rumour, most of the CEOs (and people in similar positions) send their kids to schools with minimal use of computers. Somewhere, somehow they understand, the conventional way of acquiring knowledge and facilitating intellectual growth is much more effective than technology-supported. Besides, there are no comprehensive studies regarding how these gadgets affect our minds when we use them on an ongoing basis. But that’s another issue.

Just like any other technology, whenever new gadgets hit the market, and if that gadget is good like your average e-book reader, there is a rush to buy it. People want to be seen whether it. People want to experience it. It is a novelty.

Besides, people like me want to know how this particular gadget improves the overall experience as well as make achieving a particular task more effective. My primary support for e-books and e-book readers is that it is extremely convenient for me to read books. Books come in different textures. Some books are very thick. Some are very thin. Some you can open easily. Some are hard to open. Then, I can just carry a single book with me if I’m going somewhere on my wheelchair.

On my Kindle reader or on my tablet, there is no such limit. There must be hundreds of books on my Kindle reader. When a carry the device, I carry the entire gamut of my collection with me. What happens in case I lose my Kindle reader or my tablet? No worries; all my books are saved in the cloud and they will be there just like they are once I log into my account from another device.

Recently someone commented on Twitter (I have forgotten the name of the person) that with e-readers, it is just convenience and the act of reading and nothing else. There is no experience. There is no environment. There is no feel. I agree. The sort of feeling that you get while reading a paper book you don’t get while reading an e-book. It’s still like using a gadget or a toy. But personally for me, the advantages outweigh the small sentimental snags that come with e-books.

This article states that the sale of e-readers is drastically reducing. Less and less people are purchasing e-readers these days and the dwindling sales of paper books seem to be picking up. There was a time when people had started thinking the time of paper books has gone. Now they think it is coming back. Conventional publishers have something to cheer for. The article quotes an expert:

Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.

E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.

I think it is not right to compare music and television industry with book reading. Book reading has been here for centuries whereas television and music industry in its current form has just been here for a few decades. Books are more personal. Reading a book is normally a personal activity unless it is being read in a group or in front of kids. So other trends may come and go, I think books are going to remain in demand in one form or another.

Why is it happening? If e-book readers are so convenient, why don’t people enjoy reading books on the e-readers rather than paper books? One reason can be that there wasn’t a shift anyway. People wanted to try out a new technology. It happens whenever a new technology or trend is introduced into the market. Everybody wants to buy it (those who can). People want to be seen with new gadgets. Being seen with the latest gadget becomes a status symbol. But when everybody seems to be using it, the interest begins to ebb and people begin to think that well, it’s no big deal flaunting a Kindle reader.

Another reason is that people are getting wary of constantly using gadgets. While I’m constantly discouraging my daughter from using her iPad, how can I sit in front of her using my Kindle reader even if it is being used merely to read a book and not to browse the Internet or watch videos? Although she knows that nothing much can be done with a Kindle reader aside from reading books and hence, it is different from other gadgets, I sometimes sit in front of her with my paper book just to let her know that reading paper books is a normal activity.

There is a global shift of attitude regarding adaptation of technology; whenever possible, people try to distance themselves from the gadgets they have so gotten used to having all the time. So a move away from e-readers and towards paper books might not much have to do with people’s perception towards e-readers, but their general disenchantment with technology overdose.

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When it is not advisable to use something like Kindle reader

A Kindle reader is certainly not an all-solution reading device at least in its current avatar. I don’t mean to say that there should be social features or there should be multimedia or other such fancy features. But if you want to recommend a device for students as well as people for all ages, a tablet is far better than a Kindle reader.

First of all, images and graphics don’t look good in a Kindle reader. They are black-and-white first of all. And even the rendering is not as good as it is on tablet screens, especially higher end Android devices as well as the iPads.

Another problem is that if you want to make lots of notes the keyboard is not as good as the one you get with a tablet especially when these days you easily get virtual keyboards with swiping facilities (you simply drag your fingers on the keyboard instead of tapping individual alphabets or numerals). People may not realise it right now, the ability to swipe instead of tap is a very big deal especially when you do lots of typing on the screen.

Am I advising you not to use the Kindle reader or another such device? Not at all. It is definitely a great reading experience because one, you almost feel like reading off a paper and two, there are practically no distractions. The device is just for reading and nothing else and this is a big plus. For just reading text my choice will always be an e-ink reader. But if there are lots of images (for instance, a book for my daughter) or if I need to make lots of notes (for instance, one needs to make notes to review the book later), the tablet would be my first choice.

Reading books on Kindle reader or a tablet – What’s your choice?

These days I have lent my Kindle reader to my wife as she sometimes prefers to read while our daughter is playing in the park or when she’s waiting in the music school during our daughter’s class. So these days I’m reading Pompeii on my Samsung Galaxy tab. For two years I read books – including War and Peace by Tolstoy – on my tablet without encountering major problem.

They say that once you start reading books on a proper e-book reader like Kindle or Nook you totally understand why you don’t want to read books on usual tablets. I don’t have such extreme views maybe because I’m not brand or devise loyal. These days I’m reading on my tablet and I have no problem. It depends on your environment which device you prefer. I lent my Kindle (she strongly protested when I suggested that we should purchase another e-ink reader, maybe a Nook this time) to my wife so that she can read in the sun. I read in the evenings, in my well-lit room, whether I’m reading on Kindle or the tablet.

Reading under the sun’s glare can be a problem when you read from a tablet so that is ruled out with current display technology I think.

Prolonged exposure to the screen’s glare can pose a problem, but this can be countered if you sit in a properly-lit environment. For instance, avoid reading in the dark if you want to use your tablet in order to read long text. You can also go to the display settings and reduce the brightness of the screen. The Kindle software for Android (I’m sure this feature must also be available on other operating environments) allows you to reduce the brightness from within the software interface rather than reducing the brightness of the gadget itself.

There are many benefits of doing serious reading on your tablet such as more tweaking-features that are normally not available in the actual Kindle device. Compatibility with multiple file formats is a big plus – for reading in Kindle you need to convert every file to the appropriate format but since you can install multiple e-book reading applications in a tablet you can read multiple formats from multiple sources. You can use different fonts and even different page colors (a feature that is lacking in the reader). Then of course, you can see colors that you cannot see, at least at the moment, in a typical e-ink reader.

There are many benefits of reading from a dedicated e-book reader. Although it is not as near to reading a paper book but it is almost there. You can read under the sun and the Kindle reader that I have got can be backlit so you can also read in dark.

This is a problem of self-control and not the problem of the device, but when you’re reading on your tablet you have to encounter many distractions, especially when you also use your tablet as a phone like I do. You will get phone calls, you will get SMS messages, you will get Twitter and Facebook notifications and whatnot. Of course you can turn everything off but then turning everything off and on repeatedly becomes kind of a hassle so it’s best to use a dedicated device if you are a serious reader. Many people say that there is no eyestrain when you read from an e-book reader and there is lots of eyestrain when you use a tablet but then again, it is a problem of the environment and not particularly the gadget you are using.

So should you use a tablet or a dedicated e-book reader if you want to do some serious reading? I have got both and I have used my tablet for almost 2 years reading some great books, so I don’t have very strong biases. If you already have a tablet, whether it is an Android device or something like an iPad, and if it doesn’t strain your eyes, and if you read around one book in a month than your current device should do just fine. School and college books that may have lots of diagrams and images look far better on an iPad rather than on an e-ink display. People say that they can even read on their iPhones for that matter, and I do believe them. The screen resolutions of tablets and phones are improving remarkably and they can give you a great reading experience provided you are not using a cheap device which can harm your eyes irreparably if you do lots of reading.

Reading off a dedicated e-book reader like Kindle is an altogether different experience, so I won’t say don’t buy it if you’re planning to buy it. The text is as clear as reading from a printed paper and yes, there is no strain no matter what lighting condition you are reading under. The greatest advantage is you can read under the sun or in a bright environment. It is extremely light (at least the device that I have) so your wrist doesn’t hurt even with prolonged holding. There are no distractions. Various vendors are trying to introduce e-book readers with social features but I think this defeats the entire purpose and they may end up creating another version of tablets. They should keep electronic book readers as simple as possible while improving the existing experience of reading books.

When should you invest in a Kindle or a Nook or a Sony book reader? Mostly when you are planning to do lots of reading under various lighting environments, especially under the sun. You want to feel as if you’re reading an actual book devoid of all human as well as technological distractions. It’s just for reading books, and this is why I like it.

My new Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

I was writing the review of “The Remains of the Day” when I realized that if I really wanted to write a good review, I should have taken down some notes. Up till now I had been using the Android Kindle app on my tablet as well as on my computer to not just read the books, but also search through various texts while writing the occasional reviews that I publish on this blog. But recently I purchased Kindle Paperwhite – the actual digital book reading device that I had been planning to purchase for the past two years but always managed to come up with excuses for not buying it. Well, now I have bought it.

I must’ve already mentioned that ever since I started reading digital books, the number of books I read every six months must’ve increased by 10 times if I’m not exaggerating. There used to be years before I would actually pick up a book and read it completely. That was before I started reading digital books. For the past three years, I think on an average I read 10 full-fledged books every year. I know compared to many it may not be a good record, but personally, it is a great achievement considering for 2-3 years I wouldn’t even read a single literary book.

With the purchase of the new Kindle Paperwhite, I think my reading is going to increase significantly. Last weekend I finished reading “The Remains of the Day” and this weekend I’m pretty sure that I’m going to complete “The Book Thief”. Reading on my Android tablet was quite convenient, but it is easier on the Kindle reading device simply because it is much lighter and, well, you may already know this, the text appears just like normal paper.

The convenience of reading a particular book for me is not just a matter of luxury, but it can decide whether I can read a book or not at a particular place. For instance, due to my disability, with conventional books, I couldn’t read without a table, and whenever I read, I always needed to be in the sitting position. Using a device such as my Android tablet and now Kindle Paperwhite enables me to read while I’m lying on my bed. The benefit of using Kindle Paperwhite is that I can read my books under any sort of lighting condition. This was a problem with the tablet – one cannot read under the natural outdoors light. Even indoors, after a while, it begins to strain your eyes. This is not the case with the Kindle reader. You feel as if you are reading a paper book, just with the convenience of a digital device.

While reading books on your Kindle Paperwhite you can highlight particular portions and insert notes for later reference. Once you have created multiple notes, all you have to do is tap the top portion of screen and on the extreme right hand side there is a drop down menu and within that menu you can find a link to your existing notes. This is great when you need to retrieve text while writing reviews. This was a mistake I committed when reading “The Remains of the Day”. The same mistake I have committed while reading “The Book Thief” but I will certainly remember to insert some notes while reading my next book.

You may think why I have purchased a Kindle device when I was already conveniently reading books on my Android tablet. Frankly, I have been using a tablet to read books since December 2011 but then I was reading like, during weekends, not like now when I normally read everyday for 60-80 minutes. It not just causes strain to the eyes it also becomes cumbersome, and of course, full of distractions. I have a Samsung Galaxy tablet and it also acts as my phone and my means to checking my Twitter updates. In fact, from making and receiving calls to maintaining my schedule in Evernote to interacting on Twitter, I do basically everything on my Samsung Galaxy tab. Book reading is something I had always wanted to keep separate and incurring the cost just for that was worth it.

But that’s not the only thing. My space for reading has increased manifold. Now I can read everywhere, no matter where I am. The lighting around me is not going to restrict me. I’m always going to keep my Kindle Paperwhite in the bag that I have tied to my wheelchair. Whenever I get some time, I’m going to take out my Kindle and start reading. This is, for me, the greatest advantage – the ability to steal moments of reading whenever I can.

And of course, it is quite light. I can just hold it in my hand and read a book for hours without my wrist getting tired.

The things that I’m going to miss are the colors, and the ability to use the swipe keyboard. Pressing individual keys for typing seems so archaic now, and so is, using a black-and-white display. This was one of the reasons why I was still waiting – I was hoping that soon we would get a color display.

But anyway, the more important thing is the ability to read as and when I like. This is what I’m getting from my Kindle Paperwhite. Thank you technology, for making reading so much easier.

No, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is not a substitute e-book reader

I was quite excited when I came across this Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 advertisement

It shows a person setting Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 to “Reading mode” Which basically means that you can read books and novels on this tablet just like you would on any other e-book reader.

For a very long time I have been thinking about purchasing a dedicated e-book reading device like Kindle or the Nook reader but since I keep on purchasing books from different vendors, I don’t want to tie myself down to a single device. A good thing I like about my Android tablet is that I can install applications from multiple e-book vendors and read their books. The reading is not as much fun as it would be if I read from a reader supporting e-ink display, but my reading experience has been enhanced manyfold ever since I started reading e-books rather than paper books. Although most of my purchases are from Amazon.com, I have so far resisted buying the Kindle reader. I want something that would act both as a tablet as well as an e-book reader.

So naturally I was quite excited when I saw the above advertisement. I assumed that with a single tap, you can convert the Samsung galaxy tablet into an e-reader. Now when I talk about an e-reader, I mean a device that can be used under natural light as well as under sunlight. You cannot use conventional tablets under the sun. Suppose you want to enjoy your book in a sunny afternoon sitting in a park, you cannot do this with your conventional Android tablet.

My excitement and research led me to this video:

It properly explains to you what the “Reading mode” is. It is no big deal, and it does not turn your normal screen into an e-book reader. All it does is, automatically reduce the brightness of the screen and change the settings of your tablet so that the screen doesn’t automatically turn off after a set interval. Both these tasks can be achieved in a tablet that you might already be having.

Right now I have Samsung galaxy Tab2 and I do most of my reading on it (I say most of because these days I am also reading plenty of Hindi books and you don’t get good quality Hindi books in e-book formats). When you’re reading a book through an e-book reading app such as Kindle or Play Books the screen doesn’t shut off anyway. I have seen this. Whether you read for 10 minutes or for a couple of hours, the screen doesn’t shut off. And every e-book reader app allows you to alter the brightness of the screen. This is a misleading feature and they should properly explain it to unsuspecting customers.