How do you read your ebooks?

Ebooks are mainstream, at least here in the US. Or rather in the US I know from personal experience. Here in the hustle and bustle of New Jersey e-book readers are swiftly becoming as ubiquitous as cell phones. To wit, I don’t personally know anyone under the age of 80 who does not consume electronic books in some format.

Let’s face it – Kindles are dirt cheap these days. You can get the ad sponsored one for about $70 which is about as much I spend when I hit up the book store to replenish my reading stack. That’s about a price of handful of books – a few paperbacks and maybe one or two hard cover titles. Not a huge investment considering the device essentially lasts forever.

I’m not kidding – my dad dropped his Kindle into the toilet. The damn thing got completely submerged in piss water, then rinsed off, laid out to dry. 48 hours later it powered up as if nothing happened. It was also dropped a few dozen times, stepped and sat upon without any side effects. No, Amazon is not paying me to say these things (though they damn should) – I’m just quite impressed how sturdy they make those devices.

For $20 more, you can get the cheeper Nook. Double that and you can get the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire which both can function as a semi-decent low end touch-screen tablets for interneting and facebooking. Double that, and you get yourself an iPad which has a gorgeous retina display that can deliver a stellar all-round web browsing, app buying, finger painting, swipe to unlock type experience and can be used as an excellent cat toy, in addition to being a nice e-book reading platform.

What if you are too broke for a tablet or a dedicated e-reader? Where I live, even poor people have smart phones. About a year ago, I went to the local Verizon store to buy a cell phone for my grandmother. She is 80 years old, and has no interest in anything that requires tapping, swiping or finger poking to operate. Her kind of phone is the one that flips the fuck open. I communicated that to the customer service entity at the store, and this caused much confusion. The girl that was helping me scratched her head, checked the entire floor and concluded there were no flip phones to be sold in the entire establishment. So she called over her teenage (mutant ninja) manager, and we both spent around 20 minutes explaining to him the concept of a “dumb phone that flips open and doesn’t do internet”. He was quite confused, until I told him I was looking for something like the funny phones they used in The Matrix. Upon much contemplations, the young man called in air support in the form of Jose – the Chief Mop and Bucket Engineer of the Sixth Janitorial Division who descended unto some basement and returned with a box, covered with a thick layer of dust. Said box contained the legendary Last Flip Phone of New Jersey and there was much rejoicing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that most carriers will actually give you a low end Droid, iPhone 3GS or a Blackberry for free if you sign or renew a 1 or 2 year contract with them. And each of those phones can run a motherfucking Kindle app.

Which is precisely what I use. I own and iPad and an iPhone and use the Kindle App. Why not iBooks? Well, because I have been an Amazon customer longer than I have been an iUser. It’s actually that simple. I have a long history with Amazon – I have developed trust, and brand loyalty over the years. I have bought countless dead tree books from them, and they have never fucked up my order. They have an expansive library of books, and their used book merchant system gives their users access to obscure, out of print novels that would be difficult to find otherwise. There is little to no reason for me to switch to another vendor for my e-books when their offer, and their e-reader work perfectly.

Not to mention the fact that I can sync my Kindle library across all my computing devices (including my PC) whereas iBooks would only let me sync between the Apple flavored devices making my Windows PC feel like a fat bespectacled ginger kid at recess.

So that’s how I read my electronic books. The iPad is my preferred device mostly due to the size of the display. The iPhone is for reading on the go, if I forgot to bring the iPad with me. The Kindle for PC is for when I want to consult bookmarks and notes I made, or copy and paste quotes.

How do you do it? Do you have a Nook? Kindle? An iDevice of some sort? A different type of a tablet? What software do you use for reading books on said device?

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19 Responses to How do you read your ebooks?

  1. wittaker25 UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I keep a couple choice .mobi and .epub files on my phone for if I get stranded somewhere. My school recently got public book scanners at the main libraries so I have all my textbooks digitized as pdf’s and synced using dropbox. I do most of my reading on my ipad gen 1 or on my IPS display at home. E-ink displays wouldn’t work for me because I frequently have to zoom in and out to view subscripts, plots and diagrams. That said, the goodreader app on my ipad G1 can get a bit laggy when working with some of my textbooks that are in the 25 MB + range and just using a pc tends to provide a smoother experience. I’ve also set up my dropbox account so it syncs all my other school docs to goodreader which can also read Microsoft word and excel docs.

    The downside is that my eyes are pretty sensitive and staring at displays all day is taking its toll. I have to take frequent breaks during the course of the day. And if I was up late the previous night, I need to keep applying eyedrops.

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  2. Athanor UNITED STATES Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux says:

    I use a computer monitor. And, yes, I do have an iPad2. I still can’t figure out how people can rave about how good things look on it. I think the text looks like garbage on it. Like what I may have found (barely) acceptable on Linux a decade or so ago.

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  3. Daniel GERMANY Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    I tried reading on the computer but have never found a single program that worked for me. Reading lengthier text on the computer screen somehow only works for blog posts / articles etc. The page metaphor feels wrong on the PC (on an iPad its completely ok) and scrolling feels odd because chapters are so long. If there was a reading program that would have something like a “long” page (double the lenght of this plog post maybe) I would be fine.

    On a Kobo (which I use) or an iPad (which my girlfriend uses for the university) however, reading is marvelous. And since epub is an open format and basically every program creating / editing the files uses html as the basis, I can easily unzip it if i really feel like reading on the PC.

    But this also makes for another point: Half the media on my PC is stored there but hasn’t been consumed there in ages. If tablets somehow get any better in doing actual work (looking at windows 8), I wouldn’t need a pc – just an intelligent storage solution with a web frontend… (looking at raspberry pi)

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  4. I read technical ebooks on an old laptop sometimes. My wife wants to get an ebook reader but we just never got around to it yet. I’m sure we’ll have one sometime soon.

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  5. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    I don’t have an ereader, even though they are cheap I don’t see why would I need one, I read a lot of ebooks but all of them on my phone, at least the phone I’m able to carry wherever I go, with ereader I would be more confined in my reading.
    As for software I prefer Fbreader.

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  6. agn0sis CANADA Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I spend half of my ebook reading time with my laptop and the other half with my Asus Transformer. I like the portability of the second option, but as it is one of the first Transformers (TF101), it is pretty heavy and sometimes my left hands hurts. Anyways, it has a lot of cool apps for ebooks and it is easy to to share your collection. I have been thinking about buying a smaller tablet or an e-reader, but I haven’t decided yet. I find it not very comfortable to read in the cellphone, even with the big screen of the galaxy nexus. When traveling without the tablet, I carry a dead tree chunk in my backpack.

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  7. Scott Hansen UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always gotten a majority of my reading material from the library. I know that they are slowly adding that feature to a lot of libraries, but until it becomes much more common, I have a hard time justifying buying myself any kind of e-reader. I have read an old book (Burroughs) or two on my phone and I borrowed our son’s Kindle once to read a book that he had. I think it’s great to have that ability, but maybe I’m too cheap to cough up the money for new books!

    Also, a question for all of you…how do feel about buying books from Amazon that are DRM encumbered and require the Kindle app to use? Reminds me a bit of iTunes music before they finally took away the DRM…I have a hard spot with paying Amazon for something that I can’t move/use in any way I choose. Yes, it’s cross-platform in the sense that they make an app that works on (almost) all devices, but it’s still their app. Unless I’m not understanding something about the way it works….


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  8. StDoodle UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Scott Hansen wrote:

    Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always gotten a majority of my reading material from the library. I know that they are slowly adding that feature to a lot of libraries, but until it becomes much more common, I have a hard time justifying buying myself any kind of e-reader.

    Oddly enough, that’s exactly why I want to get an e-reader so badly; so I can borrow library books to read on it! I’m not in a huge city by any means either — Kalamazoo, MI actually — and our public library offers ebooks. Have you checked with the library you currently have rights at? That’s really the only one that matters. ;)

    But I do also wonder about an uber-geek choosing Amazon. Personally, I want an e-ink version of the Nook. (I spend enough time staring at LCD monitors, and have horrible eyes as it is.) Unfortunately… $. I am, sadly, not in the world where about $100 is trivial.

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  9. joek UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I still prefer dead-tree books to ebooks, mainly because I like the feel of holding a ‘real’ book in my hand. I don’t own a tablet or ereader or smartphone (I last upgraded my phone in 2010, when my first phone broke, to a flip-phone). I do own a small number of ebooks (none of which I would pay money for). All are either out of copyright or released under creative commons or similar, and most are from project Gutenburg. When I do read them, I do so on my laptop.
    (Here in the UK, ebooks aren’t quite as mainstream as you paint the picture where you are, but you certainly couldn’t get on the tube without seeing at least one person with an ereader).

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  10. mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Another Kindle fan here! I’ve never been a huge reader, but I’m suprised how much more I read since getting a Kindle.
    A friend had a broken Kindle and asked if I wanted it to take apart/play with. After a little while I wondered if I could get it working, so I phoned Amazon and explained that I had been given a kindle that did not work. After 5 minutes of ‘hold the power switch for 15 sec”, Mrs Amazon simply stated that they would send me a new one for free!!

    The next day I received a brand new kindle3g. With customer service like that, why would I consider going anywhere else?

    I also use the Kindle app on my first gen ipad, android phone and computer.

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  11. Morghan Safari Linux says:

    Kindle Keyboard, the reduced internal memory and lack of an SD slot ensures that I will never buy one of their current models. That’s alongside my Xoom, also better, for me at least, than any of the new tablets. Then comes my Galaxy S3, the only new device that actually beat out older models on my scale, add global roaming and a QWERTY and this thing would be perfect. Never got much in to the Kindle PC app though, tried some of the free ones backbwhenbitbwas new and it didn’t impress, my Amazon library didn’t start to grow until I bought an actual Kindle.

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  12. Morghan Safari Linux says:

    DRM is a good reason to use Amazon as theirs is the most trivial to break. Adobe always takes me a minute, Amazon is completely automated to strip the DRM and convert to a .mobi file. I also aim for DRM-free, just spent $120 in support of Tor/Forge dropping DRM.

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  13. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7 inch) and use the Kindle App. I think the 7 inch screen is perfect for reading because it’s more book sized. Plus I can read in the dark with it (which happens often because my wife tends to want to go to sleep before I’m finished reading). I agree with you though Luke, the Amazon ebook system is by far the best. Very seamless. I’ve been known to read a few chapters at work on a boring Friday afternoon from their cloud reader as well.

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  14. JuEeHa Konqueror Linux says:

    I usually read my ebooks on my computer because I don’t have a smartphone. I use old nokia dumbphone from around 2004. Project Gutenberg has been a great resource for free ebooks. You should go check it out.

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  15. Sameer NETHERLANDS Safari Mac OS says:

    I read a lot of ebooks on my iPhone 4S. I prefer it to hardcopies because I’m usually reading in bed. The iBooks app is pretty cool. Often I’ll check or project Gutenberg and download ebooks directly to my iPhone. Unfortunately I can’t synchronize those books to my pc.

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  16. Mihai ROMANIA Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    My wife and I each have a Kindle DX (the 3G model with keyboard).
    Given the fact that I don’t like DRM at all I still prefer to buy the books on paper (as well as physical CDs) although space is becoming an issue.
    On the e-side of books, there are enough public domain works (e.g., and recently “Rockets and people” from Besides that.. still is good advice.

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  17. AP² PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I’ve been putting off buying an e-reader for a couple of years now. While I could afford one, I’ve always had higher priority stuff to buy – right now, I’m looking at a Thinkpad to replace my aging laptop, and that’ll take a while to offset.

    That said, my options aren’t that great. I don’t want to get a Kindle (yes, sometimes my ideology wins over pragmatism. But this was bad enough that I don’t want to support it. The Nook seems nice, but they don’t ship overseas. So I’m kind of left with Kobo, which I’d like to try before buying, and that seems impossible around here. Unfortunately, our shops are useless, they only have overpriced readers from unknown companies.

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  18. I love reading on my Kindle. It’s the $69 ad-supported e-ink version. No apps to distract me. I don’t need a browser. It’s light, easy to read, and I’ve found myself reading a lot more since I have it.

    Also, I live in Southern California and it turns out you can get all kinds of library cards (city libraries, Los Angeles County, Orange County, etc.) even if you don’t live in that exact city. Most are just looking for a valid CA driver’s license. So I have access to lots of options for free ebooks.

    One complaint: I wish I could click the page turn button and have the top half of the page change immediately, wait two seconds, then change the bottom half. That way, you wouldn’t ever have to wait for a page turn: just click the button when you’re almost ready for the next page. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about this, to explain it better.

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