Thursday, December 04, 2014

December Director's Message

Holiday Guide: E-Readers & Tablets
The holiday season is upon us and as a librarian, this season evokes two images in my head: e-readers (Kindle Paperwhite, Nook, etc.) and tablet computers (iPad, Google Nexus, Kindle Fire, etc.).  For the past decade, those of us who work at libraries have devoted more during the holidays to helping patrons with their new devices.  The following is a holiday guide for such devices.
What to buy—an e-reader or a tablet computer?  The answer is: it depends.  If your special person just wants to read books on a super light device with long battery life, go with an e-ink e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite, Nook, or Kobo.  If they want a device that can do almost everything a computer can do that is slightly heavier than an e-reader (but lighter than a laptop), then get a tablet.  Long-term reading on a computer screen aggravates my eyes, and therefore I have an e-reader.  Additionally, there is less glare in the sun on an e-ink reader, but you can always read at night on a tablet.  Some e-ink readers come with a built in light mechanism that remedies that situation. 
What kind of e-ink reader should you buy?  Again, it depends.  Both the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Glowlight are fast, sharp, and easy to read, and come in a touch version with a glowlight feature to read in the dark.  I recommend the touch versions because they are more intuitive and easier to navigate.  Both have great libraries to buy from as well.  If borrowing ebooks from the library is a main concern, I like the Nook better.  Both require you to visit your library’s website on a computer to borrow a book.  The Kindle lets you download through wifi to your device, but will force you to go through a slightly inconvenient process of signing into your Amazon account.  Amazon wants to track your books to better market to you later.  Some people do not mind and even like this feature—I do not.  With a Nook, you will need to download the borrowed book to a computer, attach your Nook with a USB cord, and transfer it.  The easiest e-ink e-reader to borrow library books with is the Sony Reader—it has an app built in so you only need your reader connected to wifi to select and borrow books.  But alas, Sony discontinued making this device.
Another easy way to borrow library e-books and downloadable audiobooks is with a tablet computer.  The “Overdrive Media Console” app (library book-borrowing app) is available on the vast majority of these devices.  Which tablet should you buy?  Again, it depends.  The iPad works extremely well and currently has the largest selection of apps, but it’s also the most expensive.  The Kindle Fire and Nook HD work well and are fairly inexpensive, but lock you into the Amazon or Barnes and Noble store (depending on which device you buy).  However, their stores are quite extensive.  I like The Google Nexus because it is inexpensive, the app store is larger, and you are free to download the Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and other book store apps to give you a chance to price shop.  Although there are too many tablets for me to cover, the most important observation I’ve made about these devices is that the super cheap tablets (those under $200) usually come with strings attached and severely limit your app and book reading options, so be careful. 
If you need any help borrowing e-books or using your device, be sure to stop by the library.  Happy holidays!

-This is the December message from our Library Director, Shawn McConnell