Friday, December 27, 2013

Becoming a 21st Century Reader: Pointers for Using E-books and E-Reader Apps

E-reading has matured to the point that the software for the PC and the apps for the tablets are extremely reliable, and offer users options to make reading electronically comparable, if not better, then reading a physical book. I am an avid reader, and I can count the number of "physical books" I purchased last year on a single hand, and those books were purchased only because e-books were not available. Reading an e-book can be a pleasurable experience if one chooses their hardware carefully, and takes advantage of multiple e-book apps their their features. What advice do I have to offer?

1. Choose hardware that allows you download multiple e-reading apps. You should preferably choose a tablet that allows you to access multiple e-book vendors to make sure you get good prices on the products and so that you can find e-copies for the books you are searching for. For example, I use an iPad and iPad mini simply because I can download multiple e-reader apps. I currently use iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and Google Play. By using multiple apps, there are times when I can't find an e-version of a book on the Kindle, but I am able to find it on iBooks or one of the other providers. My choice of hardware for e-reading is to have an iPad, iPad mini, and a Kindle reader. The iPads give me access to ebooks across apps, and the Kindle reader allows me to access my Kindle library with a back-up device in case all my tablets need charging. The majority of the books I have purchased are in my Kindle library anyway.

2. Use multiple e-reader devices to increase accessibility of your e-library. For example, if you only have a single tablet, if that tablet loses charge, you may lose access to your reading while it charges. If you have multiple devices, you can allow one to charge while using another. Sounds like a petty idea, but for someone like myself who picks up a book to read any time, having multiple devices means I can do just that.

3. Use the upload capabilities of the e-reader apps to upload PDF documents, journal articles, and web posts. This feature is available for most e-reader apps. How it works is simple. I uncover a journal article or even a web blog post that I want to read in depth later. I can upload that document to my Kindle app by using a Chrome extension easily. This allows me to peruse the web post or journal article later across any of my devices. Most of the e-reader apps such as iBooks also allows you to open and read PDF documents as well.

4. Use the highlighting, note taking, and copy-paste features of the e-reader app. All e-reader apps offer users the options of highlighting text, making notes on text, and copying and pasting quotes. For someone who relies on e-books, this is actually much easier than using a physical book. For example, in the Kindle app, with the click of a button, I can display all my highlights, notes and bookmarks. This means I can find my highlighted textual notes much more quickly. Using an e-reader app also provides a text search function that allows you to pinpoint topics very easily. When you paste a quote from the Kindle app, bibliographic information is automatically added to your pasted text.

5. Store your e-library in the cloud. This means I do not have to devote physical space to books any longer. While I have been a book fanatic for as long as I can remember, I can also remember the constant struggle of trying to find a place to store books. Now that my books are stored in the cloud, space and storage are no longer an issue.

6. Share favorite quotes on social media. This is one of my personal favorite features of e-book apps. I can select a quote and immediately share it out on Facebook and Twitter. Many of my Twitter conversations have started over a quote that I shared. This feature makes what was once mostly a solitary activity a social activity.

E-reading has matured in the four or five years I have been using it. I have also become a more sophisticated user of e-books as well. To make your e-reading experience work, you have to select the apps and the hardware to make it work for you. With time, once you have explored all the capabilities of these e-book apps, you can begin to make those features work for you.

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