Poll: E-book readers - e-ink vs. back-lit color

I mostly read at night, so backlighting is a big plus. Nice to be able to read in the dark while my wife is asleep.

The correct answer to this is "both.

A small eink reader is a great way to read books. They’re also cheaper, lighter, and last longer on a charge.

Color LCDs are great for magazines, comics, and kid’s books. They also handle regular books just fine, and they’re much more versatile – games, web browsing, and a multitude of apps are all viable.

In my ideal world, I’d own a B&W nook and 10" Honeycomb tablet. In the real world I’m living in, I own a nookColor, because they’re a darn good deal at $250. It’s not quite “best of both worlds,” but it’s at least “a lot of the good of both worlds.”

Backlighting is probably the WRONG approach for this. Backlights usually light up the room more, and they’re harder on your eyes in a dark room. For in-bed reading, an e-ink display with a decently diffused frontlight is usually going to work better.

But that’s not to say backlighting can’t work – I read my nookColor at night in bed, but it strains my eyes faster than e-ink and a booklight would.

I have both a kindle and a color nook that I rooted for other purposes. I’ve read book on the Color Nook and it really isn’t bad. You can reduce the brightness, and adjust the font sizes on books.

The kindle is slightly easier on the eyes, but the advantage of being able to read in a dark room is nice.

I bought the nook to use it as a cheap tablet. I can surf the internet, watch Youtube videos, and I can install any apps available in the Android Marketplace. I installed tapatalk which is a good message board reader, and a bunch of other apps. I also have used it as an e-book reader and it works pretty well.

epub encryption is very broken. A little googling will yield relatively painless instructions for getting epub books onto your kindle or vice versa.

This was one of the things I was worried about before I took the plunge and bought a Kindle, but with my latest-generation Kindle (which is supposed to be a significant improvement over earlier readers on refresh time) it’s rarely been an issue.

I already had a Kindle when I got my iPad. At the time, I wondered if I would stop using the Kindle, and I’m not even close to giving it up. Even in the dark with a book light, I find the Kindle to be incomparably easier on my eyes than the Kindle app on the iPad. My laptop hasn’t left the house since I got the iPad, and I’m seriously considering giving up my Windows Mobile phone for a plain phone, but the Kindle still travels with me.

If you are only reading novels, then black/white only doesn’t matter. If you read things besides novels, i.e. magazines, newspapers, biographies, non-fiction books, graphic novels, anything that can have colour photos or drawings, then colour is definitely something nice to have.

I don’t have an e-book reader because I’m still confused about the different systems and the fear of lack of compatibility between Kindle books, iBookstore (Apple), Nook format, etc.
If there was a common eBook format that worked well on all devices, and if 90% of books for sale were available in a common eBook format, I would buy one in a second (though I would want colour). In the meantime I’ll stick with books on paper.

I’m in your boat; I have the Kindle DX and an iPad and, like you, I find reading on the Kindle to be much, much easier than on the iPad. It’s not even a close contest. As I said in a different thread, I don’t read books at all on my iPad anymore. After reading a few pages of content on both devices, I put the iPad down and never looked back. There’s no way that backlit screen is good for your eyes, especially in the dark, which is when I felt most of my eyestrain.

Another plus for the Kindle is I can read for weeks without having to recharge. What other eReader can say that?

If you have a Kindle, the solution you seek is Calibre, which converts just about any ebook format into Kindle-readable, so unless the source is using a new, proprietary format, Calibre can convert it for you, and provide you with options to customize metadata as well.

For your reference, here is the list of formats Calibre can currently convert: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC**, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT. Click here for this and other useful information.

Click here to view the Calibre video demo..

I’ve heard about Calibre, but without looking further into it, will it allow me to take a book I bought from Amazon in the Kindle format and convert it to another format? I thought Kindle books were protected in some way (DRM). Or could it convert a book I bought from the iBookstore (Apple’s bookstore) to Kindle format so I could read it on a Kindle?

Calibre does not break the DRM. You need other programs to do that. Calibre does a good job of changing ebug to mobi and vice versa and a lot of other formats.

The non color nooks, the Sony ereaders, Kobo basically the ones with the black and white e ink displays.

That’s actually not accurate. The Kindle has a longer single-charge battery life rating than the three you mentioned. For example, Kindle is rated for 14 days, although I’ve gone for much longer than that and I read every night, whereas the Nook is rated for 7 to 10 days. Don’t get me wrong. 7 days between recharges is still great, and certainly blows my iPad out of the water on battery life; the Kindle is just better in this regard.

ALL retail books, (well certainly from the big players like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) are DRM’d. Of course out of copyright stuff (like books from Project Gutenberg) is not DRM’d and can be converted (legally) with Calibre to any format.

This is what keeps me away from eBooks. If I buy an eBook from Barnes and Noble, and Barnes and Noble goes out of business, then eventually I wouldn’t be able to read that book anymore. Same goes for Amazon or any other eBook vendor. Also some books might only be available for one platform (i.e. you can get it for the Kindle but not for the Nook, or for the Kindle but not the iBookstore.)
If there was a single common eBook format that worked for all readers that would encourage me to buy an eBook reader.

I hear you. I’m a book packrat, and the thought of losing access to a book that I have bought is disturbing. I can’t think of any other material objects that I own that I have as much of an emotional attachment to - not my house, furniture, electronics, etc.

In many ways, it’s quite absurd. I seriously doubt that I will ever re-read more than 10% of the books I keep on my shelves, but I just have to *have *them there.

On the other hand, physical books aren’t forever, either. I’ve lost physical books to water damage from a leaky pipe, and just plain lost some over long periods of time. There are books that I’ve put into yardsales to open up shelf space for new books, only to think a year later, “I wish I still had that book”. Then there are the many, many books that I’ve lent to friends and family that got either were never returned or were “loved” so much that they eventually fell apart.

In the long run, I expect that ebooks will become the format of choice for book packrats like me, because they can be backed up to other devices. That will give them a permanence that even physical books can’t match.

That may be true of the booksellers, but some publishers are starting to make books available directly without DRM. Some are even giving away ebooks of some titles completely free.

Have you seen the official Amazon Kindle case with the built in light? Here it is. It’s a little expensive but fantastically made, should solve your low-light reading problems. The lighting is uneven but you start ignoring that after a few minutes (IME).

The light is powered by the actual Kindle, so no batteries are needed. IIRC it uses the same power as it would if you had WiFi on permanently.

EDIT: It’s $59.99 on Amazon.com by the way.

To be fair, this isn’t an inherent problem with DRM – it would be perfectly possible to have a standardized DRM scheme (including updates to both future releases and existing hardware to stay ahead of cracks) while accommodating portability and interoperability.

The problem is marketing (i.e. insistence on clinging to proprietary Betamaxazon format as the rest of the industry coalesces around ePub).

That’s true. But with eBooks the problem is that the DRM methods are tied to one particular company.
Examples: I bought DVDs, even though they had a DRM scheme, because any DVD player from any company could play that DVD.
I didn’t buy a lot of music from the iTunes store until they got rid of DRM because I would have had to burn CDs to make sure I could play the songs in the future, even after the hypothetical demise of the iTunes store. If I was burning CDs anyway I might as well buy CDs.
Bookstores need to at least adopt a mechansim like DVDs where there is a standard DRM mechanism, or else, like Apple did with the iTunes store for their music files, get rid of DRM altogether.