Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings,
and not by the intellect.

[Herbert Spencer]

I’ve spent the last several months reading dozens of books on my iPod Touch. The reason is (in addition to the fact that I love reading and my iPod makes it so convenient without adding more paperbacks to my overstuffed bookshelves), I’m producing eBooks that will be marketed in several ways. I needed not only to learn about production, but also about the product. Here are my opinions that are based upon this brief, unscientific research and experience. Remember this is merely my limited opinion that is influenced by my tastes, habits and myopic view of the world. My opinions were also shaped by the following:

  1. I only used the software eReaders that can be installed on an iPod, and did not use the actual dedicated devices such as a Kindle, Nook, Kobo eReader, Sony…
  2. The software I used may work differently than the actual devices. Since I didn’t have access to the devices, I don’t know.
  3. The eReaders I mainly used were Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Stanza and Borders eBooks. There are many more including Adobe Digital Editions and GoodReader, but I didn’t actually read books on those.
  4. My opinion was influenced by three factors; ease of use, ease of procuring books and readability.

My two favorites are Barnes & Noble, and Stanza. Readability won out. Both of these allowed me to customize the text so that I could read a sanserif font in a nice size. Serif type is like Times and a sanserif is like Helvetica. I found the sanserif easier to read. The main thing I liked was that the type on these two eReaders is not justified. Justified type means that the lines of type align on both the right and left, often leaving rivers of white space that make it hard to read (and plum irritating to an old typesetter like me). These two eReaders also allowed me to navigate through the books with greater ease.

My conclusion? I doubt if I’ll ever buy a dedicated eReader. My iPod Touch works great. I can only imagine using an iPad instead if I’m ever blessed with one. I’ll continue to use the B&N Reader (I ought to buy stock in the company considering how many books I’ve bought) and the Stanza eReader through which I’ve read many free classics that I wish I’d read as a child.

One more thing. As with any new technology, this technology is still a bit rough around the edges. I’m confident that the formatting of electronic books and the finesse of electronic readers will steadily improve. Also, I’m sure this technology will become more standardized, flexible and cross-platform.