Friday, 2 July 2010

the Bebook is a good ebook reader

After two long years of trying to get my hands on an e-book reader, I've bought a Bebook. Quite impulsively, I must say. I've haunted Dymocks, Borders, Readers' Feast and other shops over the last couple of years and haven't been able to find a person on duty who could actually show me one working. (Oh, I just remembered that in the last couple of weeks Borders has introduced an e-reader and has some available for people to try out - but I didn't think it had enough features and I suspect you have to buy your books from them.)

I walked into the LaTrobe Uni bookshop recently, and there was the Bebook, available to try AND behind the counter was a young woman who not only knew how to work it, but who was enthusiastic and clear in her explanations. If I've understood her properly, it's not tied to any e-book company, so you can wirelessly buy books from a range of places, or download from your computer.

I haven't bought any yet, because it's so easy to download books from local libraries that I can't see why I would pay to own books. I've been downloading from Yarra Pleny/Brisbane Libraries.

City Library tell me they have e-books available also but I haven't tried them yet.

Here's a picture of my Bebook, propped up for easy reading during breakfast, on my Bookseat, which of course is wonderful for paper books also.

The screen is matt and I find it easy on the eyes. A couple of days ago I read it sitting in the train near a window, with the sun shining in (winter sun, not the glare of an Australian summer) and it was fine. I believe I would have been squinting if I'd been reading on paper, but I'm not sure about that.

Here are some examples of landscape orientation, in the five font sizes available:

It's a different experience to read a book on this e-reader rather than in a traditional book. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is doing a study of the way the brain processes print in the two different formats. As you can see from the photos, you get a different amount of text at each font size, which makes for a different scanning technique by the eye.

When I read my first books, non-fiction - How Dogs Think and Gut Instincts - I was aware that I was reading in an electronic format. But now that I've read an engrossing murder-mystery, once I was grabbed by the plot I lost consciousness of the medium, and at one stage even tried to turn the page instead of pressing the button.

So far, I'm very happy with it. Text does do weird things, though. Paragraph breaks re-arrange themselves at the differing font sizes, and occasionally direct speech runs together into one paragraph so that you think it's the same speaker, or one speaker's words are separated into different paragraphs so that you think it's a new person speaking. Also, diagrams in the health book (Gut Instincts) looked quite weird at the large size - but I simply went back to the small size to see how the diagram was supposed to be.

It's wonderful for reading in bed! Big print, light to hold and no pages to turn.

It cost $569 at the LaTrobe Uni bookshop, but as the shop is a co-op (membership $20), I got $70 discount.

It weighs about 300 grams (about 10.5 ounces).

There are lots of things you can do with it - take notes as you read, highlight sections, go to a particular page and other things, but my main aim is to simply read books, so I haven't used many features yet.

Here are more pictures of the five font sizes, this time in the portrait orientation:


sally forth said...

Thanks for this. I've been looking at all of these for a bit but am still on the fence. On the one hand there are less expensive, but proprietary versions on the other more expensive but not tied.

Year of Finishing Off said...

The Bebook looks good, Parlance. It's good that it can be used to download from different sources. I've been wondering about compatibility issues. Thanks.

parlance said...

Kathryn, I didn't have a good look at all the models available, I must confess. I just got sick of looking and bought this one because it was available and I could understand it.

parlance said...

YOFO, I guess it won't be the best one around, but I like it and I thought this report would be useful to people who are still gathering info.

theregatha said...

Hi Parlance,
thanks so much for the update on this technology. I have been thinking about it for a while, but waiting to hear from others if it is worth the effort of learning yet another new thing.... Sad to say really, but I am finding myself quite resisitant to letting go of some of my favorite habits, like snuggling up with a "real" book, AND I also find I can get quite lost in the technology and loose hours wandering off on side issues! Look forward to hearing more as you run the thing in.

parlance said...

therigatha, I saw a friend's iPad yesterday, and as reading experience it was superior to the Bebook, in my opinion, except that the iPad screen is too shiny for my taste.

I used by Bebook to read a pdf someone had sent me and the experience was weird, because some of the words had changed. There must be some sort of scanning software involved. For instance, the word floor came out as Hoor each time, very off-putting.