Tag Archives: e-reader

Kobo Glo and Mini Review

I finally got my hands on the two newest members of the Kobo product line, the Glo and the  Mini.

Now, I already own the Touch, so I was already familiar with the basic functions.  The Glo and Mini are practically identical in the way that they operate,  which I find very straightforward.   The nice thing about these is that they are for reading and only reading, no MP3 player or anything else, so they are easy to learn and very intuitive.

The Glo is almost identical to the existing Touch.  It no longer has the button to return to the home screen, but has a button to turn the light on and off on top.  This makes the Glo a little smaller than the touch, in height, so existing cases will be a little too big.  The speed is a little faster, and the type is a little crisper.  The light is actually amazingly good.  It looks a lot like an IndiGlo watch, the way the screen is lit.  The light’s brightness can be adjusted, which is nice.  If you would have bought a clip light for the Touch, the extra money for the Glo is probably worth it.  For me, I already have a Touch that I’m happy with, and it doesn’t make sense to buy the Glo just for some minor speed and screen upgrades, and a light.    For anyone who doesn’t already have one, if you can spare the extra cash, the Glo is a good deal.

The mini is… cute.  It’s really teeny.  For how teeny it is, the screen is larger than I was expecting (5″).  It really is small enough to fit in a pocket (back jeans pocket, I tested ) and for people for whom teeniness and portability is the main thing, this definitely qualifies.  It still has most of the functionality of the Touch, minus the micro SD slot, so you’re limited to the original 1.3GB storage.  Since, however, that is enough for about 1000 books, I’m thinking that would be enough for most people.   Also, at about $80, the price is incredibly good for a reader of this quality.  I personally prefer the larger screen size.

One other new feature of the two new readers which I especially like is the fact that they can now be initialized wirelessly, via WiFi, instead of only via computer.  This is especially handy if you’re a) traveling without a computer, and have to reset your reader for some reason, or do it by accident, or b) sell the darn things, and have random annoying teenagers who think resetting them to the factory defaults is hilarious, which previously meant having to disable the security devices, remove them from display, drag them to the office, find out that the software on the office computers hasn’t been upgraded yet and have to wait for the computer techs at head office to upgrade it remotely because you don’t have admin access, re-setup the devices, replace them on the display, repeat ad nauseum.  Sorry, little rant there, I’m okay now.  So take that, annoying teenagers!

Buying books from anyone except Kobo still needs to be done via computer, or SD card, however.

On the whole, fairly impressed.  If you’re looking for a new e-reader, I recommend it.


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Neil Gaiman on Copyright Piracy and the Web

An interesting perspective on pirated writing from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman.  Surprisingly (at least compared to many writers) he’s for it.  Sort of.


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Retail Hostility

The other day, a homeless man came in to the bookstore where I work.  He settled in to a chair, and started looking through the shelves.  I asked if I could help him find something, and he said yes, he was trying to figure out ways to make his diet healthier while homeless, since it was really hard for him to have a balanced meal.   We went through a few book ideas, and found a couple of possibilities.

He thanked me.  And then thanked me again.  For not pretending he was invisible, or escorting him from the store.  For treating him like a human being.  He said our store was always great, letting him get cleaned up in the washroom, letting him stay as long as he wanted.   He told me that he used to be a teacher, but circumstances had left him homeless.   He was so happy, just because someone had been willing to have a conversation with him, treat him like a person.

He made my day.

And then there was the couple who came in, having issues with their e-reader.  The return date had passed, with us, and it was now under manufacturer’s warranty.  I offered to try to help them solve the issue, but they refused.   They yelled about customer support at the e-reader company.  They yelled at me, yelled at my manager.  There was swearing.  Everything we tried to say, they talked over.  Apparently they were having an issue with their treadmill,  that was our fault too.  We were thieves, it was a conspiracy.  We were horrible people who were knowingly selling bad products.

They ruined my day.

The contrast between these two encounters is ridiculous.  The homeless man was the soul of courtesy.  The well-off couple were horrible.   Why do people feel they can treat retail workers like dirt?  I can’t imagine someone behaving this way at a bank, but maybe they’re horrible there, too.   I’m not sure what lesson to take from all this.   If my kids behaved like that couple did, they would be in deep, deep trouble.

With other customers, I have taken hours to try to help them with issues they’ve been having with their e-readers, or to teach them how to use them.  I like helping people.  That couple, though, I will not exactly be going out of my way to help.  I’m guessing if I told them that, it would just be one more reason to shout at me.

Obviously, courtesy and respect are not tied to your bank balance.   The upstanding citizen?  The homeless man.

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Amazon Boycott – Vive la Resistance!

The boycott of Amazon by refusing to stock their books on the shelves, now includes Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Books-A-Million, and IndieCommerce, the venue for the American Booksellers Association (ABA).    To meet customers’  needs, the books continue to be offered for special order, but the companies will not be ordering any stock on hand, in stores or warehouses.  I don’t know how much this will hurt Amazon, since the majority of their business is done online, but a publishing company that doesn’t have books on shelves is necessarily limited.  Not every book-lover shops online, and it will definitely limit distribution in Canada, where Indigo and Books-A-Million have a strong presence.

I have never been a fan of Amazon’s policy of publishing their e-books only in their own format, as opposed to the industry standard of ePub.   Now, their publishing house won’t allow their authors’ e-books to be sold by anyone but Amazon.  The response of the other book-sellers is that they won’t be used as Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar, and prevented from selling the electronic versions.

I have included links to two more articles on the subject, and will be watching developments with interest.  Even if this has no impact on Amazon at all, I’m still glad they’re doing it.



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Borrowing e-books… it can be done!

I have had several questions on how to take out e-books from the public library.  This article in Wired gives a fairly decent how-to, which is applicable both in the US and Canada.   For those of us who connect through our computers, you need your own (free) copy of Adobe Digital Editions.  Those who connect directly to the library will need a copy of Overdrive’s or Bibliocommons’ software for your device.  Most of the software can be downloaded directly from your public library.


Also, in terms of sharing e-books, so far, unless there is no DRM attached to the file, the only way to share is by sharing an account, for example authorizing another device to access your Adobe Digital Editions, or other user accounts.

Here are a few handy links:

Overdrive: http://www.overdrive.com/Software/omc/

Adobe Digital Editions:    http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

More info on DRM and sharing: http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-to-share-an-ebook-without-stripping-the-drm

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A true Happily Ever After….

During the Christmas shopping season, an older lady and her middle-aged son came in to the bookstore I work at.  The lady wanted to know if an e-reader could be of help to her.  She showed me her hands, which were twisted with rheumatoid arthritis.  She loved to read, she said, but holding a book became very painful very quickly for her, both from the weight, and from the awkwardness of turning the pages.  Also, she told me she had lost an eye to cancer, and found that reading smaller print was very difficult for her.  I showed her the same e-reader I use, (Kobo Touch) which is very light, quite straightforward to learn since it is strictly an e-reader, and it’s a touch screen, so she didn’t need to manipulate buttons to use it.   Of course she could re-size the font, to make the print larger, as well.  She agreed to give it a trial run, and promised to let me know how it went.

A few weeks later, she and her son were back in the store.  She was very emotional as she told me that it was incredible – she could read again, easily, for the first time in years.  No eye strain, no pain, just sheer enjoyment.  I was practically in tears myself, and she told me how she was telling all her friends about these miraculous devices.

Maybe working in a bookstore, I won’t save the world – but I found out I made her world better, by bringing something she loved back in to her life, and you know what?  That’s good enough for me.


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An e-reader e-vangelist?

The bookstore I work at carries e-readers, and I spend a lot of time answering questions, helping people learn how to use them, etc.  That’s my specialty.  I didn’t think much about e-readers until I was given a Kobo Touch for my birthday last year.  I was skeptical as to why I would bother using it, cool as it was, when books were working just fine, thanks – but it was so handy, especially in terms of

a)not funding the public library entirely on my late fees!  I can take out e-books online from the public library, and they expire after three weeks.

b)Brand new hardcover – 1/3 of the price, and about 1/64th of the weight, much easier to tote to various waiting rooms, and on transit.

I will never, never give up the real thing, but my Kobo has won a place in my heart.

I have a couple of customer stories too, that I will share in future posts – they may convince even the most vehement of – erm, what’s a word for people who hate e-readers?    Anyways, they may be convinced that, for some people at least, e-readers are the best thing that could have happened.

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