My Path to eReadership. How and why I converted from the printed word to ebooks.


I’m a bookworm, I’ll admit that upfront now. I like the printed word.When I had my office in Redmond I had so many books on shelves it allegedly kept my room temperature a couple of degrees higher than those offices around me. So we are talking quite a few books.

But recently I’ve changed. I’m moving to ebooks. Why? I was chatting to a friend of mine, she works in the publishing industry, about the publications her company had on offer. She mentioned that she was increasingly using an eReader*, I commented that I was not convinced and couldn’t see myself using one, previous experiences with so-called ebooks, was one factor. She didn’t go off into a long sermon on how I was behind the times, she simply said go try one and see for yourself.

I was still not convinced, until recently at another friends house I found they had been given an eReader* as a gift. So I started to use it and was pleasantly surprised. The readability of the screen surprised me, the paper effect these devices achieve is very easy on the eye, I was certainly thinking I could get on with these. So with this thought in mind a new opportunity to try another device came my way. A colleague had just bought a different model. This had to be a sign, and not missing the chance, I tried theirs. Needless to say, I was now on well on the path to purchase.

What finally tipped the scales was another friend working for O’Reilly. I have a large number of MS Press books and until recently ebooks to MS Press were PDF. I tried PDF on an eReader and while it was ok, wasn’t the experience I was after. My O’Reilly friend pointed out that following the move of MS Press distribution to O’Reilly, one of the side benefits was the inclusion of ePub formats in their offerings. She kindly provided me the ePub version of the books whose PDF I was trying so I could compare side-by-side. The experience was exactly what I had hoped.

Armed with eReader”* and ePub copy of the book I was off to the park to see if reading in daylight outside was better than using a laptop. The results of all these tests are that now I’m a convert. It wasn’t quick and I was looking for that reason not to go this route, but in the end all the things my original friend had told me about these devices where true.

One of my main criteria for this format change was the availability of MS Press books. The experience of using the PDF versions of these books on other devices had been a factor in my reluctance to change. But O’Reilly have done a very good job in making them available in other formats.

  • Whenever possible they provide them to you in four DRM-free file formats — PDF, .epub, Kindle-compatible .mobi, and Android .apk — that you can use on the devices of your choice.
  • Their ebook files are fully searchable, and you can cut-and-paste and print them. They also alert you when they have updated your ebooks with corrections and additions.
  • Also, in the event that something happens and you no longer have access to the ebooks you purchase locally, you get lifetime access to ebooks you purchased through

Now the proud owner of an eReader I’ve been researching the places that I can download books. Beyond the obvious retailers, I’ve found my local authority runs an eLibrary service. I now find myself looking at titles that I may not have considered previously. I can now carry 1 book or 1000 books with me anywhere, switch between them easily all without the cumbersome weight I used to carry. A far cry from the days of carrying 10-15 books in the back of my car to events on the off chance I get a question I need to research.

If you are like me and sceptical about these devices and the quantity of books available for them, I’ll repeat what my friend told me, “Go try one for yourself”, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


*I’ve not mentioned makes or models here on purpose. Try different models and see how you get on. I did, and that is how I ended up with the model I’ve have. You can download software to read and mange books on your PC, like Adobe Digital Editions, you can also use ADE to transfer ebooks to devices too.

Also look around at the books sites, for example O’Reilly have most of their publications, especially their new ones, available in 4 formats. Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Waterstones and WH Smiths are all making ebooks and readers more generally available, most will also let you try them in store.


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