Ask CG: Am I Ready For An E-Reader?

Today we received this charming note from a nice lady out Lincolnshire way and we wanted to address her concerns in a concise and educated manner. She writes:

Good Morning –

Have just found your helpful article about “10 reasons to buy a Kindle 2… and 10 reasons not to”. I was thinking about buying a Sony Reader but heard Kindle is better liked by those who have purchased one, however, what way does the reader “turn” the pages on the Kindle? Is it like turning pages of a regular book because I had heard that the Sony Reader design is awkward and the pages turn the wrong way… can you help please. Incidentally, I love books and have never set eyes on any e-reader device but kind of like the idea of owning something so portable.

Thank you.
Patricia (UK)

Good Morning to you, Patricia. Your letter brought up a very interesting point: there are literally millions of folks out there who have never seen an e-reader and wary of its deficiencies. Rest assured that the modern e-reader may be confusing at first but, as evidenced by my own aged father’s acceptance of this selfsame technology, I believe almost anyone can use one immediately.

First, I present for your perusal an image of an e-reader of recent vintage. I have numbered some of the pertinent points.

1. The Next and Previous Page Buttons. These switch pages. You’ll notice that there is also a Next Page button on the right side as well as a “Home” button that returns you to the main screen.
2. This is a small keyboard. You can use this keyboard to search for text within a book and the small button next to the space bar will allow you to change the font size.
3. This small joystick allows you to move up and down within a book.
4. This is the E Ink screen. It is visible in direct sunlight and very readable. It has a slight gray cast to it, but it’s no worse than some of the European paperbacks I’ve seen.
5. This is your network connectivity meter. All of these devices are connected to the Internet.
6. This is a human hand.

As you see, the interface is fairly simple and I would dare say that the Kindle and the Nook are both your best bet when it comes to e-readers. Sony’s offerings are a bit more technical and there are some e-readers out there that are absolutely abysmal but cost considerably less than you’d think. Do not be fooled.

That said, most of your concerns, Patricia, have been addressed in the modern e-readers available to the average user. For example, the button layout on the Kindle and the Nook is resistant to accidental “page turning” at this point. In fact, I think your only sticking point will be the trasversal of the Kindle or Nook bookstores but one or two tries and you’ll have it down.

I gave my aged father his Kindle a few weeks ago and it is my hope that he will be able to share in my e-reading habits. He has long enjoyed the dead-tree book but even my dear old Dad needs to upgrade. You, too, Patricia, should feel free to jump into the e-reader fray feet-first.

Image from here

Have a question for us? Email and we’ll do our best to answer your concerns, queries, or ransom notes.