Cheating on my paperbacks -
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16 Feb Cheating on my paperbacks

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Dear readers, I have a confession to make: I bought an e-reader. I feel the need to confess this because I love books, real books, which might some day become extinct – relegated to nothing more than a (very, very) lengthy footnote in the story of progress.

That might be a little dramatic, but I did feel—totally irrationally—a little guilty when I brought home my Kobo Touch eReader and put it on top of the stack of paperbacks that live on my bedside table. But after owning this lightweight and generally pretty nifty little device for several months, I’ll concede that there is room for both “real” and ebooks in my future.

Here’s what I like and don’t like about the Kobo Touch:

Size: The Touch is quite small and lightweight. I was especially pleased with this feature when I realized that the first book I read on it, Haruki Murakami’s excellent 1Q84 clocks in at 928 pages!

Readability: The screen is easy to read in all light levels, and the adjustable font size (and type) is useful.

Page turning: For the most part, the Touch is responsive, although I find it works better if you swipe the pages iPad-like, rather than just tapping. However, I prefer tapping and because I’m a really fast reader, occasionally it’s not as responsive as I’d like.

Dictionary and translation: Easy to use – just tap on the word in question, and you can choose to translate it or define it. This came in handy when reading Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, which has loooong passages of Spanish dialogue.

Library books: A major factor in my decision to get the Touch (other than the fact that Kobo is a Canadian company) is the ability to check out ebooks from the Toronto Public Library (unlike, say, the Kindle). Although the process of getting the books from the library onto the e-reader is a little fiddly, but that’s for another post…

Social features: Social is huge these days, so it’s no surprise that Kobo is touting its social networking feature, which is called Reading Life. I haven’t really explored it yet, so the verdict is still out. However, I’m not sure I want my Facebook friends to be able to see what I’m reading—they might shun me for my secret Twilight obsession. Or not so secret.

Battery life: The battery is the one thing that truly annoys me about the Touch – and it’s not the length of time it holds its charge (which is about two weeks). Unless you navigate back to the home screen, which I never do while I’m in the middle of a book, there is no indication of how much battery you have left. This results in unpleasant surprises; for example, settling in for a relaxing read only to discover the bloody sad-faced e-reader icon greeting you with its dead battery message.How difficult would it have been to add a warning when the battery was about to kick it, so you could plan appropriately?

It is at those times that I return to my first love and promise I will never forsake its little paperback self again… Or at least until the battery finishes charging.

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