In a recent article, we introduced the topic of e-readers for students and attempted to help you make the right choice by providing some questions for you to consider. We started with the most basic topics of price and your school’s rules regarding e-readers and other electronic devices. Now, let’s dive in a little further:
What format are the textbooks and reading materials you expect to be using on your e-reader available in?
If you’re using your e-reader primarily as a replacement for heavy, bulky textbooks, you’ll want to make sure the e-book versions of them will work for your chosen device. Remember, Kindles can’t read Epub files. (Unless you convert them to a Kindle-approved format, which may be against the licensing agreement for the e-book.) Other e-readers, like those from the Nook line, can’t read Amazon’s proprietary Mobi files.
We suggest browsing around the various e-book stores and searching the names of your textbooks. If one of the stores (say, the Kindle Store) has all your books but the others only have some of them, you’ll probably want to consider something from the Kindle line. This will also give you an idea of which bookstore has the best prices, which could also be a factor in your decision.
Is it Wi-Fi only or does it have 3G?
If you’re lucky, you’ve got plenty of places to access open Wi-Fi on your school or campus for downloading books on the go. If you’re not so lucky, you might want to consider a 3G-enabled e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite 3G.
Do you need to see color?
If your textbooks include a lot of full-color illustrations and black and white just won’t do (perhaps you’re majoring in Paint By Numbers; we’re not judging), a regular e-ink-based e-reader isn’t going to work for you. In that case, you might have to consider something like the Nook Color or even a full-fledged tablet — but keep in mind, this requires some significant sacrifices in terms of battery life and the ability to read in bright sunlight.