Kindles, iPads and the Digital Reading Experience

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Late in 2011, I broke down and purchased my first Kindle, and at the beginning of 2012, wrote about what I loved so far and what I didn’t love so much. In March, while in Nashville, I upgraded my Kindle to the Touch (Emily is now enjoying my original Kindle) and that pretty much took care of most of my complaints about the Kindle experience. Then, a few months later, I did something crazy:

I bought an iPad.

(This is really only crazy from my perspective–I usually don’t go on a huge tech binge like I’ve done this year.)

This summer gave me the opportunity to try a lot of different kinds of digital reading experiences, from the Kindle for iPad app, the Kindle itself and a dipping a toe into iBooks as well. How’d I like them? Here’s my take:

Kindle Touch

I love touch-screen interfaces. This was, pretty much, the biggest frustration I had with my original Kindle (that and it being useless for note taking). The on-screen keyboard, while a little clunky, is super-easy to use and I’m so glad they upgraded the highlighting function to cross pages when necessary. Grabbing highlights from personal documents is easy (just connect to a computer and open the text file), sharing is no problem, text is sharp… all in all, the Kindle Touch offers a terrific reading experience. In fact, it’s my primary reading device when I’m at home. When I’m out, though, that’s another story.

Kindle for iPad

As much as I love the Kindle Touch reading experience, I don’t like always travelling with multiple devices. It’s a bit awkward to be carrying around the Kindle and a laptop and an iPad, y’know? So when I’m out and about during the day, I take my iPad with me. What I love about the Kindle for iPad app is it keeps track of progress across devices (when connected to WiFi), has decent highlighting and note taking tools, and sharing quotes is still a snap. Whenever I’m reading a book purchased from Amazon, my highlights are stored online at kindle.amazon.com, which is helpful.

The one thing I’ve not done (yet) is read a personal document on it. Honestly, I’m kind of afraid to. The concern I have there is that I won’t be able to access any highlights or notes I make (I’m not sure if they come across to the primary Kindle device or not—I know they’re not stored online, though). And because I do so much reading for review purposes, I really need those. (If a reader knows how to do this and can tell me, I will be in his or her debt.)

The one thing I really loved reading on the iPad was a graphic novel. This summer, I was challenged to read some “fun” books as I am a giant nerd. So, I bought a Superman graphic novel and read that, which was awesome. The colors were vibrant, the images were clear… It was definitely something I’d be happy to do again sometime.

But this year I didn’t limit myself to just the Kindle and the Kindle app. I tried one more, with less than favorable results.

iBooks

I’m an Apple geek. We have multiple iDevices kicking about our home and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon. However, iBooks is by far the worst reading app I’ve used so far. While, visually, it’s nice and clear, but that’s pretty much it if you’re not reading an ePub book. If you’re reading a PDF, you’ve got nothing but the little bookmark thing and that’s it. While I’ve not given up on the app entirely, it’s definitely not been a favorite of mine so far.

Although I’m not 100 percent sold on any one type of digital reading experience (I’ve not tried the Kobo app yet and haven’t really gotten into some of the others that are out there), the Kindle and Kindle app are definitely my favorites at this stage, if for no other reason than I have so many Kindle books. I suspect they’ll continue to be my top choices for the foreseeable future.

Are you a digital reader? What’s your preference for device/app?

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  • Ben Thorp

    I’ve recently got my first Kindle, having had a B&N Nook tablet (repurposed as a stock Android tablet with the Kindle app on it) from work for about a year. I love the screen, and the weight. Whilst I can see myself getting a tablet at a later date, I think the Kindle has it beat for sheer readability, particularly in bed before I go to sleep….

  • http://www.boldlion.blogspot.com ‘Guerite ~ BoldLion

    Recently, someone blessed me with Kindle Touch as a surprise present which is far better than I deserve to get. The Lord is so good. I love my Kindle Touch and have been reading them. As a real bookworm, I am so thankful for Kindle Touch. What would I do without them.

    Yes, I can see the downside of having Kindle especially in taking note and highlighting it. I haven’t try that taking note and highlighting that yet. If it is a book (mostly in Theological) that I know that I do want to write in them, highlight them, and mark them up, then I will not buy them in Kindle format but only get them in book form. If it is a book just to read through, then I will get them in Kindle.
    Yes! I love the fact that I can get e-books cheap or free. I have been downloading a lot of free e-books. That is a true blessing to have.
    I like in re-ink background and not a light background to make it easy to read for a long time without wearing out your eyes.
    To me, Kindle Touch is a A+ to have when needed.
    Hungry to eat His Word,’Guerite ~ BoldLion

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.canuel Chris Canuel

    I’m just now getting into digital reading. I downloaded the Kindle App to my iPhone, and I love it. For some reason I seem to be able to focus better, and read more quickly. And of course the sharing, and being able to highlight is a great perk as well. I also downloaded iBooks which doesn’t offer as many of the perks, but they seem to have a better selection of free classics, which I really dig reading, and being able to enjoy without having to go out and purchase them…either digitally or physically. My wife also love me having the digital option so she doesn’t have to see so many books lying around, or needing to go out and buy more bookshelves…Of course, the e-reading experience won’t take the place of the physical book anytime soon I don’t believe. I still love having the real thing in my hands and on my shelves.

  • http://twitter.com/LarryFarlow Larry Farlow

    I read on both the Kindle device and the iPad Kindle app. As you point out, graphic or picture rich documents come across much better on the iPad. I even think a standard text only book comes across more book-like on the iPad so tend to prefer that view. However, there are a few drawbacks to the iPad view. Collections are not available on the iPad and reading in bright light is nigh on impossible. In addition, the glowing screen can be a sleep deterrent late at night. For these reasons, I default to the Kindle device when reading in bright light, outside or late in the evening. Both devices have their uses though so I’m glad I have the two options.

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