An eReader is an electronic device that is designed to read eBooks, documents, periodicals and other digital documents. An ideal eReader is generally the size of a paperback with low-resolution and low-glare black and white XD screen, though the colored versions are also available.
Compared to a laptop, computer, or smartphone, which are usually backlit, the eReaders are thin and have long battery life. An eReader can support several proprietary formats. However, keep in mind that not all eReaders can handle all formats, for example, some will support HTML, plain text, and JPG, but not the open-standard ‘ePUB’.
It is an exciting and evolving technology, and as with every new technology, there are several factors to consider before investing in the best eReader for your institution. Weighing these factors would ensure that you don’t waste your money or end up investing in something that doesn’t work for you.
Here are some factors that would help you choose the best eReader for your institution.
As with purchasing other electronic gadgets, there are several factors to consider to ensure that the eReader is exactly what you want for your institution.
Here are some features that will help you make an informed decision while purchasing the best eReader for your institution:
What is the capacity of the eReader and how many documents and eBooks can it store? Secondly, can the memory space be increased, if required?
Not all eReaders can support all types of publishing formats. While choosing the best eReader for your institution, make sure it supports ePUB text files, eBooks, PDFs, Word documents etc., that will allow your readers to access all your learning and development material, and sync with other devices.
Besides, ePUB is supported by technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3, which makes it possible to hyperlink content with internal and external references. It is also SEO-friendly, making content searchable on various browsers, based on keywords.
And finally, it should support the fixed and reflowable layout; in fixed layout, the eReader replicates the printed page and in case of reflowable layout, content flows to take up the size of the screen of the reading device. Here’s more on Reflowable or Fixed-layout ePUB – Which is Better? and Here’s How to Convert PDF to ePUB3 while Keeping the Format Intact.
It goes without saying that the eReader you choose should have internet connectivity so that readers can access content while on the go.
The eReader should be screen-friendly and so consider factors such as color, size and reflectiveness. Besides, the content should be easy to read. Are your end-users more comfortable with a book? If yes, the best eReader would be the one that gives you the feel of a book.
An eReader is available in black, white and color format. While black and white are easy on the eye, the color eReader is ideal for content that is rich in graphics and photos.
Compare the eReader screen size with the size of non-dedicated readers such as the iPad, laptop etc., and see what your learners are most comfortable with.
The best eReader is one that allows your learners to read in all light types including reading in the full sunlight without reflecting, glaring or loss of image.
Ideally, the eReader should weigh less than the usual paperback, and should be easy to carry and hold.
Your readers may spend hours on the eReader. Ensure that the eReader has a long battery life. Also, find out if you can replace the battery on your own or do you have to send it to a technician for replacement?
Does the eReader have the features to transfer content, allowing you to share content with colleagues and other stakeholders?
While this may seem like a time-consuming activity, it is a good idea to read through product reviews since you are not only investing in an expensive product but also in one that would have constant updates.
The best approach is to read both professional reviews and user-submitted content for a balanced view. While technology experts tend to focus on the technical aspects of the eReader, the end-user feedback provides a glimpse of their experience of using the product.
While it may be tempting to purchase eReaders from overseas, it is important that you check for compatibility in your home area. Also, check the method by which it allows downloads. While some provide WiFi download compatibility and USB download, there are others that only offer USB download.
Check for other features that the eReader provides. Since you are investing in an eReader for your institution, it should allow your learners to add notes. Then again, how easy is the process to add notes?
Can students browse through the content to find some information?
Does it have a library of additional resources and is it possible to upload new ones?
Can you highlight portions of the documents and share on social media?
McGraw Hill used ebooks to build conceptual understanding, computational fluency & problem-solving skills in everyday mathematics
While there are several eReaders available in the market such as Kindle and Nook, you may wish to invest in proprietary eReader that can be customized to the needs of your institution. Once you have done your research and have made a list of the features that your eReader should have, talk to the eReader vendors and discuss your requirements with them.
Also be sure to discuss factors such as customer support, more so because new products can come up with problems and it is reassuring to know that you can return them or have the problem fixed at minimum or no cost and hassle.
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