Before you rush out to buy an eReader, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself first. Every eReader has different features as well as strengths and weaknesses. The way you answer these questions helps to determine which eReader will work best for your personal needs.
Do you know your reading habits? How much do you read? When and where will you be using the device? Indoors or outside in direct sunlight? Mostly at home or on the go? Do you need a backlit device or one with an additional light?
What will you be reading on it? Will you be reading books only, or are you interested in magazines and newspapers as well? Will you be buying mostly new books or older public domain classics? Are you interested mainly in free books? Are you reading academic books or mainly for pleasure? Do you need to annotate text or share page numbers as in a reading group?
Do you need special features like voice guided menus, text-to-speech or a touch screen?
Do you know what device features are available? Do you need a device which is easy to operate or are you a gadget geek? Which features are most important to you? Battery life, WiFi, 3G, or availability of font sizes? What type of screen do you need: e-ink or color? What about features like a touch screen, book lending, library borrowing, or expandable storage capacity? Do you want a device that can download from anywhere or one that must be used with a computer?
Do you tend to shop at one book store more than another? Each eReader is tied to a particular bookstore: The Kindle to Amazon, the Nook to Barnes and Noble, The Kobo and Literati to the Kobo store and so on. Book selections also vary among the different stores. Each store also has different DRM formats which means that books purchased from one store will not be readable on another device.
Do you know the readers’ company solvency and committment to the product? Sharper Image and Borders have both filed for Bankruptcy protection. There have been several companies that have announced plans for eReaders which have then been quietly withdrawn such as Copia. Obviously, these issues affect your warranty and customer service support for a reader.
What kind of customer service is available for the device? How much customer service are you likely to need? Does the company provide an 800 number? Are there message forums where you can get help from other users?
What formats can the device read? Different eReaders use different formats and different DRM systems. Current formats include epub, word, txt, prc (mobipocket), Amazon kindle, PDF. All devices are not compatible with all formats.
How many books are available for the device? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Kobo, and Google Books all have various numbers of books available, although formats and DRM vary from store to store. Library books may have additional DRM. Make sure that your eReader is supported.
Are you located in the United States or outside the US? Unfortunately, there are geographical restrictions on ebook availability. International customers and travellers may see added charges for wireless delivery and taxes such as VAT. This can also be a factor if you travel outside the country.
Have you done your research? Read reviews and user forums before you buy. This helps you to get a feel for the experience of using the eReader. I lurked on the Amazon forums before I bought my first Kindle (a $400 purchase at the time). Because of that, by the time I actually decided to buy, I was very comfortable with the Kindle and the pro and cons of the device.
Have you tried an eReader for yourself? More and more stores are starting to carry eReaders. Take advantage of the this fact and get a hands-on feel for the device. Try out a friend’s or ask someone about it if you see a reader out in public. Most people who use eReaders are happy to answer questions!
Check out stores’ return policies for the devices. Some retailers, like Amazon, offer a 30 day trial period within which the device can be returned for a full refund.
By asking yourself a few questions, will be able to evaluate the information in eReader reviews. By using this information to compare eReaders, you will be sure to get the reader that’s just right for you!