A Kindle for Christmas

The tech-gift I am being asked most often about this Christmas is not the iPad or other tablets, but ereaders. A Kindle For Christmas?And the Kindle in particular. Amazingly, the one I recommend for the majority of the folks is the least expensive. It has the cleanest interface, a fantastic display, is rugged, and extremely affordable. Combine all of that with being able to easily check out books from most libraries on it and it is hard to beat!

What about the other versions of the Kindle? Well, the experiences people are having with the touch-screen models are less than favorable, and most folks don’t need the cost and complexity of the Fire. And lets face it, as a present the Fire is a little on the pricey side. The Fire is a great device – for movie watching, web surfing, email checking and game playing, but it really isn’t as good of a real book reader as the lower priced e-ink display Kindles.

And what about the Nook ereaders from Barnes & Noble? Well, they are mechanically great devices. Absolutely no doubt there. But, where the Kindle beats them is the Amazon store. Now I love Barnes & Noble and wish them all the best, however they just don’t seem to have the depth of Amazon. I looked up four or five books I was interested on both Amazon and B&N. While Amazon had every one, B&N didn’t. If i had a Nook I would just be out of luck. And I can tell you from hard fought experience that it is much easier to check out library books onto the Kindle than on to the Nook. So for product availability and ease of use, the Nook fall to the Kindle.

And remember that you can try the Kindle out in all kinds of places like Office Depot and Best Buy. But you won’t find a better price than from Amazon directly, and it will come already registered to your account. And if you are giving it as a gift it is easy to transfer that registration to someone else. Yup, I think this is going to be a Kindle Christmas!

Book Review: EPub Straight To The Point

EBooks are the coming wave of publishing, if in fact that wave isn’t already upon us, so I was eager to get hold of a really promising tutorial book I had heard about, “EPub Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders” by Elizabeth Castro. Unfortunately after reading it I have some mixed feelings. I would still recommend the book to those interested in self-publishing ebooks, but I do have a few hesitations.EPUB Straight to the Point

My biggest issue with the book, and not that there is any actually problem – the book isn’t bad or is wrong or anything like that, is that the book just doesn’t go far enough. A couple of examples of this: first we will start with the title. The title states, “creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders.” What doesn’t make sense to me about that is the fact that the iPad is not the number one ebook reader. That honor belongs to Amazon’s Kindle. I am truthfully not sure where the iPad ranks after that, but regardless, as eBook readers go, the iPad isn’t the most targeted platform. So, you would think that you would want a how-to book that was aimed at publishing ePub books to the dominant platform. Instead it seems that the book, and the title, were designed to grab key word searches.

The other example of this is that the book is designed around teaching you how to use Microsoft Word to generate your ePub. Now I will make no claims that Word isn’t the number one wordprocessing program and tool for writers, but it isn’t the necessarily the main tool for creating ePubs. Castro also covers using Adobe’s InDesign software for eBook creation, but she even admits that the software is costly and cumbersome. But other software that is freely available, such as Calibre, that is much more adept at creating ebooks and is much more frequently used aren’t discussed. Calibre doesn’t get any mention in the book – not even a footnote! This is a glaring omission that can’t be overlooked.
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