Thursday, February 22, 2018

Making it easier to read ebooks again

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Holding the Kindle Oasis

Like a lot of writers—and really, a lot of creative people in general—I’ve been feeling a heavy hit to my ability to create art in the current political climate. I’ve seen a lot of different folks talk about their strategies for trying to rekindle that ability, and I am certainly trying several myself. One of these is an attempt to reconnect with what made me want to be a writer in the first place: the simple joy of reading a book.

And given that I’m a tech nerd who loves her some ebooks, this has meant making some changes in how I do that!

For the last few years my reading device of choice has been a Nook tablet. This has been partly because of my day job, where a big focus of what I do is testing web pages, and sometimes being able to do so on a mobile device is useful. So cutting down on the number of devices I carry with me on a daily commute was a goal. But a few things have all combined to make me want to switch back to an e-ink device to read my books.

One: Like it or not, I’m getting older and my eyes are getting weaker. I’ve had to start wearing reading glasses. And given that I spend a great deal of my day staring at various screens, reducing that by even a little will help make my eyes happier. Particularly if I’m reading in the evenings, after spending a long day working on computers at work as well as my computer at home.

Two: My day job’s focus has shifted and I haven’t had to do as much device testing in the last few years. So having a device with me that’s capable of doing web page testing is less important.

Three: I’ve been making an effort to cut down on the ways my mobile devices can distract me. Part of this has involved turning off almost all notifications they give me, as well as removing almost all social media apps from them (with the exception of Twitter, which I keep on my phone so I can check local traffic on my commutes).

And with that in mind, I’ve remembered how very nice it is to read on an e-ink device that has just one purpose in life: showing me whatever book I want to read. It can’t distract me with Facebook, or games, or the Internet in general.

(“Well, Angela,” I hear some of you suggesting, “you know what else does that? Print books!” You are correct, Internet readers. Let it be noted for the record that I do also want to return to my backlog of unread print books in my library, too! But this post is specifically about digital reading.)

The end result of all this?

I’ve gotten myself a new e-ink reader. Specifically, and to my own surprise, a Kindle Oasis. I didn’t buy a new e-ink Nook out of strong concern about the future of Barnes and Noble as a viable store. And while I do the majority of my ebook purchases from Kobo these days, they still don’t have a major presence in the States. So what kept me from getting a Kobo device was the low likelihood of being able to go talk to someone in person if it should happen to break.

Which left Amazon as my only other major option. And the good thing about the Oasis is, good gods this thing is pleasant to hold. It’s specifically designed to be held one-handed, with buttons I can click on with my thumb to turn the pages. Which will make reading on the bus a lot easier, particularly if I have to stand while I’m doing it. (A big risk, on the Seattle bus systems!)

Its screen is very crisp and clear, which is a bonus for my less-young-than-I’d-like eyes. And since the screen is backlit and can even adjust to ambient light, it’ll be easier for me to use it to read in low-light conditions. Like, say, a dimly lit bus during a Seattle winter.

With a nice origami-style cover for it, I can also stand it up to read hands-free. I like to read during my lunch break—and sometimes during dinner as well. So the ability to stand the reader up is critical.

Ready to Read
The one major drawback with dealing with an Amazon device now is that it doesn’t talk EPUB, which I do find annoying. But I am also very familiar with Calibre, having used it for years now to manage my huge ebook library. So I’m easily capable of converting an EPUB to a MOBI, and using Amazon’s Send to Kindle utility to shoot a given book over to the device.

Given the size of my library (we’re talking over 1,700 titles here, people, and that’s just my ebooks), it’s not practical for me to try to shove the entire lot of it onto the device at once. So I’ve had to think instead about doing it in waves. This means I’ve had to focus a bit more on the idea of “what do I think I’ll actually want to read next?”

But really, that’s all to the good. Because the entire point here is to reconnect me with my books. And so far, I’ve already started reading two different things on the Oasis!

I’m very much looking forward to reading more.

Angela writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series as Angela Korra’ti, and the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy trilogy as Angela Highland! Come geek out with her about books—her own, yours, or anybody else’s!—on her website at, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

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