Why Smartphones Have the E-Reader Advantage
The advantages of smartphones over dedicated e-readers like Amazon's Kindle
I'm a big fan of ebooks. I was a fan of the idea of reading on a digital device back in the nineties before such things were cool. In the nineties, I read out of print books on a laptop, a Palm OS powered Handspring Visor, and a BlackBerry. At the time, out of print books were the only options.
In 1996, before most people had even discovered the Internet, I bought a used PowerBook Duo (Apple's first foray into the sub-notebook market and an early pre-cursor to the MacBook Air) and loaded it with classics for my mom while she was recuperating from abdominal surgery.
Needless to say, the explosion of the e-book reader market has been something of a delight to me. The Kindle, Nook, Kobo Reader, and iPad all bring e-books to anyone anywhere. I love the concept of these devices – I own an iPad and I'm planning to give multiple family members a Kindle or a Nook for Christmas this year (haven't quite decided which device is best for a couple of relatives yet). But, dedicated e-readers and tablet devices aren't my preferred way to read books.
My favorite e-reader is my iPhone. Much like the devices I read from in the nineties, the iPhone has one crucial advantage – it's always with me. Yes, the Kindle, Nook, and iPad are all extremely portable. My iPad is great when I travel (books, movies, apps – all good things on a train from upstate New York to the city or on a plane), but I didn't have it with me last month when I was waiting for a flu shot, or when I met a colleague for coffee last week, or when I'm being green and taking a bus rather than driving (which I try to do as often as possible). But my iPhone was in my pocket each of those times.
Perhaps what's more important (and where Amazon and Barnes & Noble were brilliant in their approach to the Kindle) was that I had access to more than Apple's iBook store. With the iBooks, Kindle, and Nook apps, I had a broad range of options and prices at my fingertips. In fact, Leatherbound offers a way to find the best prices on e-books from all three stores.
And that's the advantage that a smartphone (be it an iPhone, Android phone, or BlackBerry) has over dedicated devices like the Kindle or Nook. You have access to a lot more sources (books, magazines, Wikipedia, the entire Internet) and chances are that you always have it with you. And it's why I may be giving e-readers to my non-smartphone-owning family (my father thinks anything beyond calling is too much to have in a phone), but I'm sticking with my iPhone as my main way of reading.