Monday, October 24, 2011

Experiment with non-Kindle ebook

I've been known to whinge about not being able to get books I want to read because of geographic restrictions.  Elizabeth Fletcher's post at CrimeBeat on H.J. Golakia first Vee Johnson novel, The Lazarus Effect,  caught my attention. I was in pre-whinge mode when I looked at the digital downloads on kalahari.net.

The Lazarus Effect is available as an ePub, yea. Kalahari doesn't care that I live in the US, yea. It isn't compatible with my e-reader of choice, the Kindle, boo. Since I work in IT and thus am curious about technology and being the adventuresome sort and not wanting to be denied, I decided to try the Kalahari reader for Mac and Android. I purchased The Lazarus Effect and installed the readers on my MacBook pro and my Droid2 mobile.

The Experience
The Mac —you get a two page layout which can't be changed. The reader is anchored and can't be moved to a secondary display. You can add a book mark and notes and they are accessed through the table of contents but not on the actual page. This is a little kludgy. Unfortunately you can't highlight text when making a note and it looks like the size of the note is limited but I'm sure of the number of characters allowed. In addition to jumping to a bookmarked page through the table of contents, you can choose a specific page by clicking on the thumbnail that you can pop up at the bottom of the screen. The pages are easy to read though not comfortable if you have your laptop on a stand with keyboard and external monitor attached as I do. If I'm planning to sit down for a long read I will disconnect everything and take the laptop to a comfortable chair which will annoy the cats since the laptop takes up valuable lap space.

The Droid2 —The text is quite readable when I pop the magnification up one level. Obviously each page takes multiple screens. There is a slider bar to move forward and back in the book but it is useful only if you have Tinkerbell sized fingers. Swiping to advance the page doesn't always work the first time though this might be me or the Droid2.  You can get to the table of contents by pressing the info icon but I didn't discover that right away. Bookmarks and notes work the same as on the Mac reader. I actually prefer reading on the mobile phone since I have it with me always. Last night I was waiting for takeout and read a chapter over a beer. Convenient if awkward at times.

Rating: C
The experience of reading a book with these readers is OK but not close to the convenience of a Kindle/iPad/Nook etc. device.

Will I continue to get books from Kalahari this way? Yes. Having decided to specialize in African crime fiction this may be my only way to read some books. In fact, Sifiso Mzobe's novel Young Blood is already queued up on my wish list waiting for me to finish The Lazarus Effect.

I wonder if I can find a relatively inexpensive ebook reader in the US that supports Adobe DRM ePub and Adobe DRM ePub? Maybe something like the gobii reader selling on Kalahari for R899/$114.28.

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