I received a Kindle Touch for Christmas 2011 and have really enjoyed learning to use it. I've learned a lot about eReaders and ebooks, and wanted to share that information here.
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Instant books from Amazon or the library (see below for info on Overdrive.com) - I don't have to drive to the library when my next book request is available!
The only downsides that I've found is that some ebook prices are higher than I would like, but I'm finding lots of good, cheap books as explained below; and the library ebooks have longer wait lists than the print copies. These downsides are still outweighed by the benefits though.
I chose a Kindle over other eReader devices because at the time, Kindles were priced lower and were the only ones easy to read in sunlight. This may not be true now. I also really like the Text to Speech feature that is available on some Kindles (check carefully if this feature is important to you) and many Kindle ebooks. Finally, just before I was researching eReaders, Amazon had added the ebook lending feature which is now available on a limited selection of ebooks (more on this later.)
Book selection and prices - check Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com to compare prices for several ebook titles
Color vs black and white screen - consider the types of books you'll be reading (novels vs. kids' books) and whether you want it to be just an eReader or also a tablet such as Kindle Fire or iPad
Touch screen vs other interface
Readability in sunlight
Weight and size
Book formats - some eReaders support additional formats such as PDF and others
Text to Speech feature - to my knowledge, select Kindles are the only eReaders with this feature (but not all Kindles have it)
Ability to borrow from library - find out whether you library loans ebooks (usually through the Overdrive web site and which formats are supported; more below)
There are great eReader and Kindle comparison charts at the links below, which I found very helpful when doing my own research.
EReader Comparison - http://www.wireless-reading-device.net/ebook-reader-comparison-chart
Kindle Comparison - http://www.wireless-reading-device.net/Store/amazon-kindle
Free eReader Apps
Kindle, Nook and Kobo have free apps for the iphone, ipod touch, ipad, and PC. This is a great way to try out some of the eReader features, and become familiar with ebook availability and pricing before buying a device. Just keep in mind that the features available on the apps are not exactly the same as those on the comparable device.
Many uninformed Kindle users have complained on the Amazon message boards about the prices of Kindle books. It helps to know that for most top selling ebooks, Amazon is not allowed to discount the price set by the publisher. Below are links to a couple of articles about how this came about. In December 2011, the US Justice Dept. started an investigation into whether this policy constitutes price fixing, so depending on their finds, this pricing policy may change in the future.
eBook Pricing Article
Amazon 9.99 Boycott
There are many ways to get inexpensive Kindle books.Free Classic Novels - Many classic novels are available as free ebooks through Amazon.com. Just go to http://amazon.com/kindlestore and click the "Top 100 Free" tab part way down on the right. You can also just search on "Kindle free" at Amazon.
Kindle Daily Deals Emails - I highly recommend subscribing to this email list which sends a daily message with one Kindle book that is usually priced $.99 to $2.99 for one day only. The type of book ranges widely but is often a well rated book that is usually priced higher. Subscribe at http://www.amazon.com/gp/gss/browse or do a web search on Kindle Daily Deals.
Overdrive.com - Many libraries have subscriptions to Overdrive.com that allow their patrons to download ebooks and audio books over the Internet. Check with your local library to see if they subscribe to Overdrive. If they do, there is also an Overdrive app for iphone/ipad which allows you to search for books and put them on hold.
Amazon Prime members can get free book loans. Check Amazon.com for details.
Kindle with Special Offers - If you have the option, get the Kindle with Special Offers. They are quite unobtrusive and only come up in sleep mode. The offers include general Amazon discounts and Kindle book deals.
Kindle on the Cheap Facebook Page - Like Kindle on the Cheap on FB and you'll get notices of Kindle books which are free to under $5 each day. There is also a KotC Kids, KotC Teen, Kindled Hearts (romances), and something about Pearls (Christian literature).
The site http://www.ereaderiq.com allows you to enter ebooks you want and they'll notify you if the price drops. You can also request notification when a title becomes available in ebook format.
Price Watching - A good way to watch prices of ebooks that you'd like to buy is to create an Amazon wishlist (private as opposed to public). On the Amazon app for iphone, it's especially easy to pull up a wish list and skim through the items and their current prices.
Turn off WiFi to make battery charges last longer. Go to the Menu then choose Turn off Wireless.
When borrowing an ebook, if you have WiFi turned off, the loan doesn't expire on your device until you turn Wifi back on.
Early eBook Loan Return - You can return a borrowed ebook early by going to Manage My Kindle on Amazon at http://Amazon.com/myk and select the return option on the Actions pull down. It is rumored that if you return book too early or return them early too often, your Overdrive account my freeze up temporarily. FYI
Kindle frozen or crashing - hold power button 20 secs; or if that doesn't work plug into outlet (as opposed to PC via USB) and power down. An outlet adapter is good to have for this purpose.
Lending Kindle Books
http://Amazon.com/myk, click Actions, then Lend. You'll provide the person's email address and they'll receive an email inviting them to borrow the book. I think they have 3 days to respond, then they have the title for 2 weeks before it expires automatically.
Delete Book Sample from Kindle - To remove a book sample from your Kindle device, touch an hold the title until a menu appears (this applies to the Kindle Touch, but other models probably use some variation on selecting the title). One of the options is to delete the title.
Kindle Tech Support is available via Amazon.com.
Harry Potter Books in eBook Format
The Harry Potter books will be released exclusively on Pottermore.com when the site goes live.
EBook Pricing Investigation
U.S. Dept of Justice Threatens to Sue Apple and Publishers - Wall Street Journal 3/9/2012
US lawsuit against publishers for price regulation of ebooks! Wall Street Journal 12/2011
Publishers and Libraries
Interesting article from NYTimes about Publishers vs. Libraries loaning ebooks
Libraries vs. publishers WP