2011-07-01

First experience with an ereader

Yesterday I finally received the ereader I had ordered four weeks before (PocketBook IQ 701). I spent half a day fiddling with it. I chose this specific model mainly because of its multilingual support. To my great joy and satisfaction, it could also read ebooks in Hebrew and Japanese in PDF and EPUB formats. In overall terms I am very satisfied with this purchase, though there are a few things that have rather disappointed me, including a not so eye-friendly TFT display (I am ready to pay extra for a better display) and a not so sophisticated accompanying sleeve (I have already ordered a sleeve from my favorite Built NY). I am planning to use it not only while commuting but also in class; I will read handouts of my courses with this gadget instead of printing them.

This short first experience with this new ereader has already taught me that ebooks in EPUB are far easier to read than in PDF. There are a number of online and offline tools for converting PDF to EPUB, but as far as I have checked, the results are not so satisfactory, so even those in original PDF are easier to read than in converted EPUB. But those PDF documents that were scanned and saved as images must be processed for a comfortable reading with an ereader, including splitting one physical page with two logical pages into two physical pages and cropping margins, especially on the right and left sides (I use Page Cut and PDF Tools for these two tasks respectively).

It was just by chance that the model I purchased uses Android as its OS (this ereader is more like a tablet computer than a simple ereader). Here I have experienced a rather pleasant surprise, though it took me a little while to get used to executing various commands with a touch of a finger. Page scrolling seemed counter-intuitive in the beginning, until I realized that the required movements of a finger mimic the movements of turning over pages with a finger.

This experience of ordering this ereader has also made me realize that it costs more money and takes more time to pursue various intellectual and other activities in Israel than, for example, in the United States and Japan. I had to pay for this ereader twice as much as they pay in the United States, and I had to wait as long as four weeks for its delivery. This is just one example. We earn much less in Israel than, again for example, in the United States and Japan, but we have to pay much more for the same products. This also explains why new technologies penetrate Israel much slowly than those two technological giants. I know few who already use an ereader among my friends, colleagues and students. I do not remember when I was thrilled so much with hardware last time as now. I hope that my use of this ereader in class will instigate my students to think of benefiting from this technological advancement, too, though ereaders pose one intrinsic technical problem for observant Jews, who cannot use them on Sabbaths and Jewish holidays.