This was an article I wrote for the ARRA newsletter last year. A lot of the information is outdated and there are now a lot more devices in the market, so I’m posting it here as an archive rather than at Book Thingo.
A couple of months ago, Amazon finally made the Kindle available to Australia. If you’re a book lover like me, this may not impress you much. After all, it’s hard to imagine life without paperbacks! Most readers are also skeptical about being able to read on an electronic device for long periods of time.
But the Kindle, along with most ebook readers, uses E-Ink technology, which causes less strain for the eyes than a normal computer. It also requires less power, so an ebook reader will last much longer between charges than a laptop. I love the feel of books, but I have to say that I’m impressed with the clarity of eInk. Many devices also allow you to change font sizes, so it’s great for people who have impaired vision.
What makes Kindle’s entry to the Australian market such a big deal is the way it changes the book buying process. The Kindle has two advantages over its rivals. First, it gives you access to Amazon’s catalogue of ebooks, which is extensive and, more importantly, cheap. So cheap, in fact, that Amazon makes a loss on ebook sales. Second, the Kindle allows you to buy books wirelessly. It’s the digital equivalent of impulse buying. Amazon foots the bill for the 3G connection required to connect to its store, which means you don’t have to worry about subscription fees.
But the Kindle does have its downsides, particularly for Australian readers:
- It uses a proprietary ebook format. This means you can only legitimately buy ebooks from Amazon, and you can’t transfer your ebooks to a non-Kindle reader.
- It’s unclear whether or not you own your ebooks or just a licence to read them. In the past, there has been controversy over Amazon removing access to ebooks that people have previously purchased.
- Ebooks may be more expensive. Amazon charges international Kindle users a surcharge on purchases.
If these issues bother you, the good news is that there are other options for Australian ebook readers. The BeBook and ECO Reader, in particular, seem to have ramped up their Australian distribution and are available in bricks and mortar stores.
If you’re looking to buy an ebook reader this Christmas, here are some things to consider:
– Compatibility with different ebook formats (see MobileReads format and device comparison charts)
– Ease of buying and uploading books
– Geographic restrictions imposed by bookstores (some ebooks can only be sold in certain countries and may not be available to Aussie readers)
– Australian warranty and support
If you can, it’s a good idea to visit a retailer and test out the feel and features of the reader you’re interested in. Little things like screen size and button placement can make a difference between enjoyment and annoyance. It’s also worth figuring out where you’re most likely to buy your ebooks and what formats are available.
To get you started, here’s a list of ebook readers available in Australia. The prices are for standard sizes, but some brands may also have smaller or larger models available.
- Amazon Kindle (US$259) from Amazon
- BeBook ($499 on sale) from BeBook*, Dymocks, The Co-op Bookshop
- ECO Reader ($449) from ECO Reader, Boomerang Books, DA Direct, Box Hill Institute Bookshop, Reader’s Feast, Readings, Melbourne University Bookshop
- Cybook ($599) from DA Direct
- Hanlin ($349) from DA Direct
- iRex Iliad ($1099) from DA Direct
There are more ebook readers available overseas, such as Sony’s Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Fictionwise’s eSlick. However, youll need to do some research to ensure that the devices will work here, and that youll be able to purchase ebooks in the right format.
For more information, check out the MobileRead Wiki for general information and specifications, or Dear Author for tutorials on ebooks and ebook readers, geared specifically for romance readers.
Better yet, send an email to the ARRA loop, because we definitely have some prolific ebook readers in the group!
* If you buy direct from bebook.net.au, you can get $25 off by using the promotion code BOOKTHINGO. Note that Book Thingo earns referral credits when you use this promotion code. Not valid with any other offers or discounts.