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ondoho 12-14-2020 01:39 AM

Advice for Ebook Reader?
somebody wants me to gift them an ebook reader.

I never used one myself, but I heard horrible things about some models being completely locked down to the offerings of one company, not possible to use without a wifi connection or account, not possible to copy files to the device etc.
So what's a good one that isn't too locked down?

I'm not trying to force a Linux device on them.

Of course nice hardware/design is also a factor.


Turbocapitalist 12-14-2020 01:54 AM

I'm rather sure that they are all locked down. I almost recall that there were one or two that weren't but none of the names on the table seem familiar in that regard:

You could try making one, but that would be expensive in terms of both parts and time:

obobskivich 12-14-2020 02:22 AM

My only experience with these is the big Amazon-branded one that uses e-ink, and it can load anything from Amazon's ebook library, as well as general PDFs (I forget if it can also load epub or not - if so it can probably integrate with at least some libraries that support epub). It neither supported nor required WiFi that I recall. It wasn't really a 'computer' - think of it more like a DVD player or CD player: its fixed-fuction and used with mostly commercial content. Personally I don't see myself getting a lot of use out of that device, but it wasn't bad at what it was designed to do (and if I remember right it got pretty serious battery life - like on the order of weeks).

If you're looking at one with an LCD display I'd say pass - the experience will be the same as reading on a tablet/computer monitor/laptop/etc so unless the portability is a big factor there isn't much to be had.

shruggy 12-14-2020 03:20 AM


Originally Posted by obobskivich (Post 6195324)
I forget if it can also load epub or not

No, it can't. Basically, there are two kinds of e-ink readers: Amazon Kindle and all the others. Amazon Kindle supports its own proprietary ebook format, all the others support EPUB. Amazon offers a converting service though. That is, you send your EPUB files to an Amazon e-mail address, they are converted to Amazon's format and sent to your reader. Or you do it yourself via Calibre or some other tool.


Originally Posted by obobskivich (Post 6195324)
It neither supported nor required WiFi that I recall.

There are different Kindle models. IIRC, only the cheapest/most basic one doesn't support WiFi.

@OP. The most thoroughly locked-down one is Amazon Kindle. It's also the one that offers the best ergonomics, quality and overall experience.

The least locked down (of the relatively well-known brands) is PocketBook. The only essential hindrance is its switch-on button which is very uncomfortable to handle: it's small, difficult to press, and located on the bottom side like on most Chinese eReaders. PocketBook is designed in the Ukraine and probably is the most popular ebook reader in the ex-USSR countries. This partly explains while they are not locked down: the Russian ebook market is dominated by pirates. A locked down model that cannot be easily jail-broken just won't sell there.

fido_dogstoyevsky 12-14-2020 04:38 AM

Until recently Ive been using an e-ink Kobo that was very pleasant to read. I've since gone to a tablet with an ebook app. Not as nice as e-ink, but the much greater ease of managing my books more than outweighs that for me. My ideal would be an e-ink tablet.

As far as the Kobo goes, it is tied in to the Kobo bookshop, but it's quite happy to display any epubs and pdfs that are DRM free. I've never tried reading any Kobo or Amazon books on it. Text is easy to read even in small sizes. Battery life is very good, possibly because I always kept wifi off and transferred books via USB. Very reliable.

The downside is that you need to create a kobo account on the reader and if you delete the account the books will disappear. It's also really difficult to organise books according to author or subject; possible, but unnecessarily difficult.

Can't say how newer versions behave, but they may be worth a look.

ondoho 12-14-2020 01:37 PM

Like I said, I'm not trying to advocate open soft- or hardware, just a consumer device.
I didn't consider that there's probably quite many devices out there... but hopefully not as many as Android phones...
From what I gather, would you say "anything but a Kindle" (which is locked into the Amazon universe I presume)?
Being able to load epubs & PDFs etc. locally would be important I think.

And it will be a new one, definitely.

Also, I presume e-ink displays are the default for ebook readers, no? I can't think of calling a tablet with suitable software an ebook reader.

So, what I meant are devices that are being sold as ebook readers right now.

Thanks so far and hopefully a few more suggestions!

scasey 12-14-2020 03:03 PM

I’m a fan of Kindle. I’ve a PaperWhite. I can check books out of the library, in addition to a couple of less expensive subscription based options from Amazon. Prime members get one or two free books each month and discounts on much of the large library.
I can also read in a browser and on my iThings, if I want.

So my vote is for Kindle. Been very happy with it for several years.

dugan 12-14-2020 06:07 PM

Kindles cannot load EPUBs, but they can load MOBIs.

fido_dogstoyevsky 12-14-2020 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by ondoho (Post 6195530)
...From what I gather, would you say "anything but a Kindle" (which is locked into the Amazon universe I presume)?
Being able to load epubs & PDFs etc. locally would be important I think...

My wife has a Kindle, and while the build quality is very good there are too many restrictions with other file formats for my taste. She now uses a tablet instead because it can access our local library's collection and the Kindle can't.


Originally Posted by ondoho (Post 6195530)
...Also, I presume e-ink displays are the default for ebook readers, no? I can't think of calling a tablet with suitable software an ebook reader...

In my experience e-ink is definitely more restful to the eyes. Unfortunately a dedicated reader has some limitations with file formats. Which is best depends on your best balance between e-ink and convenience.

scasey 12-14-2020 07:03 PM


Originally Posted by dugan (Post 6195629)
Kindles cannot load EPUBs, but they can load MOBIs.

I'm not sure what formats are available in the local public library. I go the library's Overdrive web page, select the book(s) to check out and direct them to be delivered to my Amazon Kindle account. From that I account I can have them delivered to my PaperWhite. I've never had a problem. I've also been able to upload papers (pdf format) to Amazon, then on to the Kindle.

Yes, Amazon/kindle is cloud-based. I know that's a turnoff for some. I'm just sharing my experiences

frankbell 12-14-2020 08:40 PM

I use FBReader on my phone and tablet (and sometimes on a computer). I've used it for years.

But I doubt that a software package would be what your friend thinks of a gift. But perhaps if you put it on a tablet . . . .:)

kilgoretrout 12-14-2020 10:07 PM

Of the E-Ink readers available, I prefer the Kobo line and have used my Kobo Aura H2O for several years. For reading text, E-Ink readers are the way to go and beat the pants off the tablet ereaders for text clarity and easiness on the eyes. There's really no comparison.

Kobo has a store where you can buy books which have DRM, like all the other ereader stores. The DRM-d book files can be easily copied to your computer and , once copied, there are tools available to remove the DRM. In particular, Calibre has plugins available for removing DRM from Kobo epub and Kindle mobi files. Google and you'll find it. You can also use Calibre to convert epub to mobi and vice versa.

With Kobo, you can load ebooks via usb from any source and are not limited to the store. Almost all of the books on my Kobe ereader are from sources other than the Kobo store. The device connects on linux like a usb mass storage device so loading files to the device is trivial.


I'm not trying to force a Linux device on them.
All the ereaders that I'm aware of have linux under the hood!

ondoho 12-15-2020 01:18 AM

Thanks again.
It seems deciding what is "best" is not as clear-cut as I thought.
To me Kobo appears to me the better alternative because it is not bound to the cloud, and files can be loaded via USB.
What about tolino and Nook (current models), anybody?

shruggy 12-15-2020 05:06 AM

Well, the current tolino generation is basically just Kobo rebranded for German/Italian bookstore chains. IMO, the original thing (Kobo) is better, more flexible, and gets firmware updates faster, too.

As for Nook, it is pretty badly tied to B&N. Maybe not so badly as Kindle to Amazon store, but still very annoying at times. IIRC, only a quarter of available space on Nook may be used for books that were not bought at B&N, but downloaded from elsewhere. It's Android under the hood, so I ended up repartitioning my Nook to give more place to "external" books (they were stored on a separate partition).

ondoho 12-16-2020 01:23 AM

Thanks shruggy.
I was hoping for a Kobo, but I fear somebody else already bought a Kindle for that person.
Can I even gift them Ebooks easily, or do they have to be labeled as "Kindle compatible"? Looking at a random bookstore book, it's only available as "ePub", nothing else.

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