So you want to get an ebook reader?

By Jen W. RSS Mon, August 9, 2010

The Free Library added ebooks to our collection last fall. Since then, the revolution in ebooks has really picked up speed. With the release of the iPad this spring, more and more people are discovering and making use of our collections. 

The question I get asked all the time is, "Which ebook reader should I buy?" 

The answer for me is, "Any reader that can allow you to borrow ebooks from the library."

Our primary source for ebooks is a company called Overdrive. They have a list of compatible devices that is kept up-to-date on their site.

Here are a few quick reviews for some of the bigger names. Please keep in mind that the Free Library in no way endorses any of these products.

B&N Nook

Pros: It works with library ebooks! It's very comfortable to use and has a great design with page turning buttons on both sides so you can use either hand to hold the reader. It weights around 12oz. and uses eInk so you can read outdoors.

Cons: Library ebooks get lost in the "My Documents" section instead of "My B&N Library." This can be confusing until you get used to it. Also, there is no way to see when the ebooks are due. I've had books expire on me in the middle of reading them. The touch screen light is distracting when you are actually reading a book, but fortunately, it dims after a delay.

Sony eReader

Pros: It works with library ebooks! The eReader is small and the lightest at 7.76oz (for the Pocket edition that I got to try). It uses eInk so it can be read outdoors. When looking a the list of ebooks on the reader, it shows you when your library books expire (the due dates).

Cons: I find it a little clunky to manage the menu with the wheel button and still can't figure out the confusing number buttons on the side. Turning pages is not as intuitive as with the Nook. I've watched people click every button except the wheel to try to turn the page.


Pros: It features full color for reading ebooks and graphic novels and it's backlit so you can read at night in dim conditions.

Cons: You can't read library ebooks, yet (see below). It's also the heaviest device at around 1.5 pounds. Because it doesn't have eInk, you can't read outside unless it is overcast. This is not the device to take to the beach with you. 

Page turning defaults to tapping the right side of the pad or swiping from right to left (like a real book). This is really cool at first, but when your right arm gets tired and you switch to holding it in your left hand, you still need to reach across the pad to turn the page. If you get the iPad to use primarily as an ebook reader, invest in a beanbag chair (Macworld, Sept 2010 suggestion) or get creative with pillows or velcro.

If you have been following our blog, you know that I purchased an iPad (and love it), but that it is not (yet) able to handle library ebooks. Overdrive has announced that apps are in the works, and I got to preview them at the American Library Association conference in late June. They do exist and will be coming!

Amazon Kindle

Pros: It features the same great page turning as the Nook. The new Kindle is listed at 8.5oz. and its eInk is advertised as 50% better contrast over other ebook readers.

Cons: You can't read library ebooks, and there is no indication that this will ever be possible.

Other devices:

For information on other devices and features not related to library ebook reading, there is a wealth of user information online. I check the MobileRead forums and blog for updates on the world of ebooks and readers. They have a forum dedicated to ebook readers and all things ebook. cnet also has reviews of ebook readers.

Our ebooks:

Our ebook collection is steadily growing and we love to get feedback from our dedicated readers.  Please send us a message through our Ask a Librarian service if you have specific authors or titles you would like to see us add to our collection.

You can also donate to support our downloadable collections, including our ebooks!

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This is a very helpful post! Thank you from someone who is considering buying an ebook reader to use primarily for library ebooks. The library blog is terrific. Thanks for the good content. I appreciate it.
Kathy - Philadelphia
Saturday, August 21, 2010

I have to co-sign with Kathy. I've been wrestling with whether I should get an e-reader, or stick with my "old-school" ways and just keep buying real books. But with the prices of the printed word going up and out of my monthly entertainment budget I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that an e-reader is in my immediate future, assuming I don't destroy my eyes trying to read my forex charts in the meantime.
Jeff - Tampa, FL
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great review! A question though -- is there any way to use the Barnes & Noble reader app to read library books on other devices (Blackberry, iPod Touch)? Thanks!
H.J. - Philadelphia
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unfortunately, there is no way to get library books onto your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch due to the DRM on the ebooks. However - OverDrive, the company we purchase our ebooks from, will soon be offering apps for a variety of devices including Android and iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I have recently set up an online opticians business and i spent a lot of time reading "how to .." start up guides etc using an e-reader,it went everywhere with me,,i could carry 100's of books all at once,so it was worth its weight in gold!!!!
Tommy - Birmingham
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where do we go to get the ebooks? I'm having a hard time finding a link... or is it not available yet??
Samirah - University City
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Click on download media (it is one of the big buttons) on our main page ( to get to our downloadable collections. We have audiobooks, ebooks, video and music.
Thursday, August 26, 2010

I love reading, especially when it will be reading on ebook reader. My dad has promised me to gift iPad on my birthday meanwhile i am learning about . Until i learn basic, i will get the iPad for advanced learning.
Sandy - Waltham
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I love reading, especially when it will be reading on ebook reader. My dad has promised me to gift iPad on my birthday meanwhile i am learning about eCommerce Web Solution. Until i learn basic, i will get the iPad for advanced learning.
Sandy - Waltham
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Arrgh. I got rid on mu Kindle in order to use the ipad as my "kindle" as well as for work and yet there are so still many limitations - like the whole flash issue. Hopefully everything will come together soon with all of these formats.
Melissa - Florida
Friday, September 3, 2010

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sohbet - Türkiye
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Do people really like reading a book on Amazon Kindle? I never tried it but I don't think reading novels or such books on a screen will be good.
Ben - Bucharest
Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank you very much for the comparisons of the different e-book readers out there. It's very informative!
Health and Business - Austin, TX
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Great article! I have been thinking of getting a kindle, now I have more info to compare it to. Thanks!
Jose - Brooklyn, NY
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yeah, be careful with restricted content sources like the Kindle and others. I'm sure competition and public pressure will force them to change but vote with your dollars in the mean time. Found an article comparing features of the top 3 readers here
Jeff - LA
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I totally agree with your comments about the iPad. News flash: Amazon just announced a new book lending service for the Kindle. Hurrah! Both libraries and individuals can now lend Kindle ebooks for up to 14 days vampire books
Sandy - Virginia
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Regarding the cons listed for the nook. Yes, organization has been a complaint. The 'my documents' section is a mess. However, the software is constantly being updated. A big update (1.5) is scheduled for the end of Nov 2010. If you are interested, I have reviewed some Nook Covers
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oops. Here is a clickable link:
fred - usa
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So why won't the Kindle work with library stuff? I was hoping to get one for Christmas, but now I don't know. Isn't there some way to make it work?
Lara - Philly
Monday, December 20, 2010

Unfortunately, the Kindly only supports proprietary Amazon formatted ebooks. If you have ebooks without DRM (digital rights) then you can convert them to the Amazon format, but library ebooks need to have DRM since that is what tells the books when it is time for them to be "returned" for the next user. We just got in one of the new Sony Pocket Readers and it is really nice. I'm now torn between the Nook and the Sony as favorites.
Monday, December 20, 2010

reading the nook is much better on the eyes than the ipad. if you're gonna use it only for reading, the nook is the way to? go.
Steve Doh -
Friday, January 7, 2011

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Kate - PA
Saturday, February 12, 2011

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kaylascott - United States
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do people really like reading a book on Amazon Kindle? I never tried it but I don't think reading novels or such books on a screen will be good. Ben - Bucharest |
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Monday, December 19, 2011

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018