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Old 08-07-2018, 10:23 AM   #1
tterranigma
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Noob looking for a proper device

I have been considering buying an ebook reader for a long time. I do not know what exactly is going on with the technology. What I would like to have is a device with the following characteristics:

- Not vendor-locked. I would like to be able to load my own books, sync them as I wish, not share any detail about anything with eg Amazon, etc

- Support annotations BUT also saving them together with the file. What I do know is that I read PDFs on my laptop, annotate them and then simply hit save and my annotations are bundled together with the pdf.

- I do not know if the above is a file format issue. In case it is, is there a device that has nice pdf support with annotations?

- If not, is there a workflow (perhaps using calibre) so that I can take the pdf/mubi/etc file together with the annotations file and combine them into one?

A question related to the above, should I not prefer the pdf format for any reason?
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Old 08-07-2018, 01:14 PM   #2
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For a non-vendor-locked device, anything but Kindle will do fine. And any device with a microSD slot will do fine, including a Kindle, because you can refrain from connecting to wifi, avoid opening the bookstore, simply open the ebook files that you have plenty of space for on microSD card.

As to annotations, I don't know of a device that does not have it. Porting and transferring them and reading them elsewhere is a tough one though. Maybe an Android-based device (Inkbook, Boyue, Onyx) would be an option. Or you can install Koreader app that saves pdf annotations into the file (hardwrites them). Koreader app is easily installed on Kobo and Pocketbook devices.

I don't use Calibre, but I think it's usable with pretty much any ereader.

Why not use pdf? I use pdf files so intensively that I think the other way: If the device does not show pdf files conveniently enough, I won't buy it.
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Old 08-07-2018, 02:45 PM   #3
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Just to note that Kindles aren’t “vendor locked”. Only around half my ebook library was bought from Amazon; I buy books at all sorts of different bookstores (mainly in ePub format) and convert to Kindle format with Calibre. Every book on my Kindle is sideloaded.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:59 PM   #4
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Just to note that Kindles aren’t “vendor locked”. Only around half my ebook library was bought from Amazon; I buy books at all sorts of different bookstores (mainly in ePub format) and convert to Kindle format with Calibre. Every book on my Kindle is sideloaded.
Yeah, avoiding 'vendor lock' seems to be so important before you actually buy a reader. But once you're familiar with Calibre and Alf, you realize that no reader needs to be locked to any vendor. At that point, it's just which hardware/software combo most appeals to you.
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:24 AM   #5
GlenBarrington
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Yeah, avoiding 'vendor lock' seems to be so important before you actually buy a reader. But once you're familiar with Calibre and Alf, you realize that no reader needs to be locked to any vendor. At that point, it's just which hardware/software combo most appeals to you.
Well, that, and which file format you want to use.

For the newbies, that would pretty much mean the kindle, or the ePub formats, and to a lesser extent PDF. There are some other formats as well, but just about any book you are likely to buy in the future will almost certainly be available in one (or more) of those first three.

Generally speaking, most modern eBook reader devices will support either Kindle or ePub, and PDF files. But as pointed out in a previous post The quality and suitability of a given device for displaying PDF files can vary. So if you expect to be using PDF quite a bit, it would pay to stick to those devices known for a good PDF display.

If you can physically hold a device before buying, that would be ideal. Because ergonomics can play a big part in making your eBook reading experience pleasant or awful! If you can't do that because of your location, then try to buy from a vendor with a reputation for easy returns.

Last edited by GlenBarrington; 08-08-2018 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:19 AM   #6
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If you can physically hold a device before buying, that would be ideal.
It's actually rather vital for at least semi-informed decision. If you never owned an ereader before, or never held one for a considerable amount of time, it would be a miracle to get your first purchase right.

For example, among 6" screens (the most common size), there are the following resolution options
- 800x600
- 1024x758
- 1448x1072

This alone makes for a huge difference in the display quality (and in price) that cannot be really conveyed in words (or numbers). It must be experienced up front with one's own eyes.

And then there are the different sizes of screens with their respective resolutions and pixel densities that infinitely complicate things. Youtube reviews are a good start.

My first ereader was Pocketbook Sense. It was perfect for what I was looking for at the time: a portable ereader that can be comfortably held in any direction. I still consider its shape ideal. However, I had to eventually give it up because it didn't have enough RAM to open the huge intense pdf files that I fed to it. To be fair, it never failed to open things, but it's not really feasible to wait literally ten minutes to turn a page.

For pdf files, go for maximum processing power and maximum RAM. And consider an above 6" screen for serious reading - definitely above 6" if you read comic books. For serious annotations that you want saved, transferred, etc., consider something specifically focused on note-taking, such as Onyx Boox Note.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:08 PM   #7
tterranigma
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Thanks a lot for the suggestions and information mobile readers!
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:54 PM   #8
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It's actually rather vital for at least semi-informed decision. If you never owned an ereader before, or never held one for a considerable amount of time, it would be a miracle to get your first purchase right.
Not necessarily. While it's of course a plus to get a feel beforehand, you can always improve the comfort of holding your reader by getting a suitable cover or case for it. Unless you're dead set on always reading without a cover, no matter which reader you use. I've bought all my readers without trying them out first, even the irregular-shaped Kindle Oases, and have been quite satisfied with them all. I've used all my regular-shaped readers with covers on, otherwise their balance didn't feel quite right, but with the right covers (those have all been third-party, not official) they've been very comfortable to hold. The Oases (both the small 2016 one and the larger 2017 one), on the other hand, feel better when holding without any cover.

Getting a Kindle doesn't mean you'll be tied to Amazon, nor will getting a Kobo tie you to the Kobo store. You can sideload all your books to whatever reader you decide you like. But if you're going to read many PDF files, then I'd say no 6'' or 7'' screen is good enough for you, you'll need a larger reader.
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Old 08-09-2018, 04:43 AM   #9
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Getting a Kindle doesn't mean you'll be tied to Amazon, nor will getting a Kobo tie you to the Kobo store. You can sideload all your books to whatever reader you decide you like.
Kindle locks people down also in the sense that it only does mobi files. To have an ereader that can do both mobi and epub is a decidedly better option.
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Old 08-09-2018, 04:56 AM   #10
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Kindle locks people down also in the sense that it only does mobi files. To have an ereader that can do both mobi and epub is a decidedly better option.
If you manage your ebook library in Calibre, format becomes pretty much of an irrelevance. I’ve owned many Kindles and many ePub devices over the years. It no longer matters to me what format the reader uses; I buy based primarily on the ergonomics of the device. Calibre takes care of any conversion that may be required.
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Old 08-09-2018, 07:56 AM   #11
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If you manage your ebook library in Calibre, format becomes pretty much of an irrelevance.
True. And you can achieve the same effect with an ereader that can open all formats, no Calibre managing needed. And it's not even so hard to find such an ereader: almost anything but a Kindle will do.
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:34 PM   #12
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True. And you can achieve the same effect with an ereader that can open all formats, no Calibre managing needed. And it's not even so hard to find such an ereader: almost anything but a Kindle will do.
So how do you deal with DRM on such a reader? I know that Kobos can read mobi format books, but not ones with DRM. Or are you talking about an Android e-reader with different apps installed?

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Old 08-09-2018, 01:52 PM   #13
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True. And you can achieve the same effect with an ereader that can open all formats, no Calibre managing needed. And it's not even so hard to find such an ereader: almost anything but a Kindle will do.
Once your ebook library reaches a certain size, though (and I've been buying ebooks for well over 20 years), a decent library management tool becomes essential. I'd be lost without Calibre!
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