If you're looking for a debate over ebooks vs print books, this is not it.
I am here to venerate ebooks. I travel. I read a lot when I travel, because that's when I have the time. I'm 51, but I'm like a millennial. I want to travel light. I don't want to carry 12 books with me for 4 weeks over 3 continents, with the possibility of losing them (if they are library books) or paying for excessive luggage because of them. Like a millennial, I aspire to be a minimalist, to own as little as possible. Also, as librarian, I spend much of my working hours organising books. I don't want to do that on my off hours.
I just want to read books.
Even when I am not travelling, I love the convenience of being able to download a book without leaving the house, or the sofa for that matter, and to start reading it within minutes, even seconds. Immediate gratification is also tres millennial,no? I'm busy and I don't want to worry about returning them to avoid overdue fines. I want them cheap, or better yet FREE!
That's where you need these 2 things in the universe to meet.
1) A library membership that includes ebooks on Overdrive
2) A Kobo Aura One.
Why the Kobo Aura One?
Almost everyone has a smartphone, and most have a tablet too, so why do we need another device? Yet another screen?
Here are the advantages of the Kobo Aura One (vs Kindle/Kindle Fire/Tablet/iPad)
- It's the only non-backlit eReader that works with Overdrive. This is its biggest selling point. This means free library books that are better for your eyes. Double jackpot! No more paying for Kindle books from Amazon or searching for illegal downloads of pirated copies from obscure eastern European countries.
- It uses Carta E Ink technology, which claims to be better for your eyes and sleep patterns. It is also uses the lowest power display, which means a longer battery life compared to the usual bright backlit screens. You can further lower the power usage when you shut off the wifi.
- You can control the natural light. This means you can control the warmth of the light, not just the brightness.
- It's water resistant - for up to 60 minutes under 2 meters of water, should you drop it by accident in a pool or a bathtub or at the beach.
- It's surfing-hostile. It's in black and white, slow to upload/refresh sites, and you need to touch type VERY SLOWLY. Just try searching Google or Facebook. You will quickly lose the will to live, but this means way less distractions when you read.
- I go in phases of print vs screens, but in general I find print books cumbersome and heavy to handle. In my old age, I also like to control the font size, font style, and line spacing so it's easier (for me) to read. You can't do that with a print book.
- You don't support Amazon. You don't buy any of their Kindle ebooks. You aren't making Jeff Bezos even richer than he is.
There are occasions where I don't want a Kobo Aura One. Cookbooks, or any other books where photos play a big part of the book's content or enhance/compliment the text are far more appealing and instructive when viewed on my Kindle Fire. Many information books, such as those from the DK Eyewitness, design their ebooks with a lots of animation and visuals for educational reasons. To view those on a black and white E Ink screen would be a loss to the reader. Magazines are another source that are better viewed on a backlit screen due to their visuals and layouts. If you are a subscriber to PressReader, the online magazine and newspaper source, I would strongly recommend a backlit device.
Here's a cool video that summarises all these points, even about Amazon, or lack thereof.
Setting up Overdrive and your Library onto your Kobo Aura One
Firstly, you have to get Overdrive operating on your Kobo. After doing this, you will need to find your specific library, then login with your library membership to download your books.
When you are finished reading your book, you can remove it from the Kobo, if you want, or just leave it there so you can admire all the books you've read, and think, hey, I'm a such a keener!
Here's a short video on how to do this from the West Vancouver Public Library, but it's the same for any library that uses Overdrive, and most English-language libraries do.
Because you need to touch type slowly, I would search the library catalog of your choice on your laptop or phone, borrow it from there, then sync it to the Kobo. If you're more patient than I am, you can search, borrow, and download directly from the library on your Kobo.
Below is a video on how I search the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore from my laptop. I am not a fan of touch typing, especially on my tiny smartphone or any tablet (I don't have one). After I borrow it on my laptop, I then go to my Kobo to sync it, and then start reading.
I want to dedicate this post to two people. One is Jane, a teacher librarian at another international school, who just bought a Kindle. She told me she wished she had talked to me first so that she would have bought the Kobo instead. As a result, here's my blog post to enlighten all those who are at the Kindle Kobo Crossroad. Ever the optimist, Jane has decided that she will be the proud owner of both the Kobo Aura One, and Kindle, just in case the library doesn't have the book she wants. Good for you Jane - the more, the merrier, when it comes to books. Variety is the spice of life - both for books and eReaders.
My husband is the second person I want to dedicate this post to. Honestly, he did all the research to find a better eReader for both of our screen-fatigued eyes. However, he prefers to read in German, his mother tongue, and the Kobo only supports Overdrive, which is mostly English language books. No worries. He bought a Tolino, which works with most, if not all, German ebooks from the public libraries in Germany. In 2017 Kobo formed an alliance with Tolino to be their technology partner. Unsurprisingly, the Kobo Aura One and the Tolino are very similar in from a technical and design POV, but there are minor differences in user functionalities.
Here's a list of other E Ink devices that work with Overdrive, including the the Kobo Aura One. Notably absent is the Kindle. This comes from Overdrive if you want to explore other ereader options that work with it.
Get a library membership, get a Kobo Aura One, and start downloading your free ebooks now. You'll start saving immediately. If you don't believe me, check out how much the Kindle version would cost you. They're not getting cheaper.