eReader Gift Buying Guide

For the past few years, eReaders have become more and more popular in the holiday buying season, so I wanted to put together a small guide for people who are interested in buying an eReader but don’t know where to start. So this is structured in FAQ format and written with the newbie in mind. (I suppose I should have put this post together before Black Friday, but hey, there are still 25 more shopping days before Christmas … )

What is the difference between “ebook” and “e-reader”?

“ebook” refers to the digital content that goes on the e-reader. “e-reader” is the physical device itself.eReader Gift Buying Help

What is the most important thing to look for when buying an eReader?

In my opinion, the hardware and software of each eReader is similar enough that it’s not anything to base your decision on. The more important question to ask yourself is: Where do I want to buy my ebooks?

If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Amazon, you should get a Kindle.
If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Barnes & Noble, you should get a Nook.
If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Kobo, you should buy a Kobo eReader.
If you want more flexibility, you can get an eReader that isn’t so tied to a specific store, like a Sony Reader, BeBook, Cybook, or others.

You can also consider the ebook apps that each company provides. For example, companies like Amazon, B&N, and Kobo provide apps for other devices like iPad, smartphones, and Android tablets, so that even if you buy an ebook for your eReader, you can also read it on your other devices via their app. Also keep in mind that ebooks that you get from independent ebook stores can be read in third-party apps on your other devices, too.

What’s the difference between the eReaders that display in black & white vs color?

The eReaders with black & white screens display something called “e-ink”. This is a type of technology that was created to display text just like printed ink on paper. These screens are matte (instead of glossy) which means they don’t reflect light, so you can easily read them while sitting next to a lamp or even outside in the sun. These devices are basically only for reading — because of the screen type (and other hardware factors) they don’t run apps or games. Some can play MP3s.

How will I know how to use an eReader?

Most eReaders come with a manual, either printed or onboard the device. They’re very easy devices to use and you should be able to just pick up one and start using it. The eReaders that run on the Android operating system operate very similarly to a smartphone.

Once you buy some ebooks, the store where you bought them should give you specific instructions on how to load them onto the eReader. Some use “cloud” storage and let you download the ebook directly to the device. In other cases, you’ll have to download the ebook to your computer and then transfer to the eReader. It’s not much different than working with any other files and electronic devices.

Are eReaders good gifts for kids?

First of all, kids are born knowing how to use this stuff, so don’t worry that your kids won’t know how to use it. I think they’re great gifts for kids since they can make reading more fun. Something to consider is whether you want the child to have access to other apps. The tablet-style eReaders have the ability to run games and a variety of other apps, many of which access the internet. The E-Ink eReaders are not so connected and focus more on books.

Where can I get some ebooks for free?

Project Gutenberg has many public domain titles available for free. Most ebook stores have a selection of free ebooks along with the ones that you have to buy. Probably the best thing to do is just Google “free ebooks” (or any variation on that) and see what you can find for yourself. There are a lot of websites that have free ebook downloads once you start looking around.

What if I upgrade my eReader or change computers?

This is usually fine. If your ebooks are in “cloud” storage, like with Amazon, you can just re-download them to your new device. If your ebooks had to be downloaded to your computer and then transferred to your device, you can usually re-download them from the website where you bought them. Prepare for this eventuality by properly “authorizing” your comptuer and devices if the ebooks are protected by DRM.

Confused about any of the terms used in this post? Take a look at my previous post eBook Terms for Newbies for some definitions.

Do you have more questions? Leave them in the comments!

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About The eBook Reader

I love reading and I love technology. eBooks are an interesting combination of the two.

3 responses to “eReader Gift Buying Guide”

  1. wraith808 says :

    You are not limited by the store the eReader is tied to; you are limited by the formats that the device supports. The Nook in particular can be sideloaded as shown at this URL: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/NOOK-General-Discussion/Moving-ebooks-from-PC-to-Nook/m-p/974882#M70537

    • The eBook Reader says :

      Thanks for the clarification and link. Just a small note on this: this post was written with the beginner in mind — someone who might not be interested in sideloading or anything not “out of the box”.

  2. Darlene Green says :

    Don’t forget about public libraries when you’re talking about where to get your ebooks. The ebooks are free and there’s lots of in-person support from the library staff.

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