Ereaders and Ebook Sources for Reading about Science and Faith and Other Stuff

This thread has been created to provide a space to share information about ereaders and ebook sources for those who have need and/or interest in them.

Please share your experiences with ereaders, including performance, features, file formats, durability, price — anything that would help someone make an informed decision, if they are interested in pursuing one.

If you have good sources of ebooks, particularly relating to science and faith, please share those.

If you know of useful software for ebook management and/or conversion, please include that as well.

Finally, if you have questions about others’ ereader and ebook experiences, this is the place to ask them.

Those of us who are dedicated ereader users are beyond the debate of print over digital, because printed books are no longer (or never were) accessible to us, or are not as accessible as we need them to be. Please, don’t waste our time with pointless controversy.

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I’m bringing this over from my post in the the Pithy Quotes thread:

I have Kobo Aura One (discontinued) that’s about 5 years old. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to get, but I really needed something that would allow seriously large print that you can’t find in paper. I chose this one particularly because of the relatively large screen size (7 11/16" with my desk ruler) and epub format. I have a subscription to Bookshare that provides many common file formats that print-impaired readers need, including epub. It doesn’t deal with .mobi.
When I bought the reader, I didn’t realize what great features the built in Overdrive (needed for borrowing library ebooks directly from the ereader) and Pocket (save, store and reformat articles across devices) would be. I use Pocket all the time and have it sync across my desktop, ipad, phone and Kobo.

The single thing I dislike the most about my Kobo is how sluggish the OS is (or maybe has become). It boots slowly, and moving between books is slow going. My Kindle is much peppier. As a church librarian, I worked with the library’s Kindles often, and they maintained their vim and vigor over the years. I think Amazon has just done a better job with the software side of things.
The second thing I dislike is how fritzy the underlining capability has become. It’s unreliable.

I recently got a Kindle mostly for the screen reader feature. I use Voice Dream on my ipad and Dolphin Easy Reader on my phone. I’m used to using a computerized voice (always makes me feel like I’m listening to NOAA Weather Radio with my dad) and can speed it up a bit, when careful listening is not necessary.
That being said, having developed my brain’s information gathering abilities in a visual/print mode, developing the listening skills for serious information gathering has been more than challenging. I think I need to develop these skills much like I developed print literacy skills, because there are distinct and challenging differences.
The single thing I dislike the most about Kindles is that they only use Amazon’s proprietary .mobi file format and PDFS. This means that .epub files, the most common and flexible, cannot be used on Kindles, unless you convert them using software like Calibre. .Epub is the standard ebook file format that is available in Bookshare, unless one is using special equipment like a braille display.

Lastly, for now at least, last summer I downloaded Calibre software for converting ebooks for my daughter from her Bookshare account to .mobi to use on her Kindle we got her for camp. An ipad is way too dear to send off into the woods with a bunch of kids. I’ve been playing around a bit with Calibre lately, and it’s going to be an important tool with 3 different ereader brands in our house. The GUI is not pretty, but the software does some really nice things and gives you as much control over the conversion process and editing as you want. Or you can simply use it as your ebook library management software.

Read on.

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Depending on your browser, check the plugins for a page reader and turn any current web page into an audio ePage.

This is brilliant. Thank you. Can you describe how you’ve done this with the browser you prefer?

I use a Chrome browser which has a puzzle piece icon with a menu for Extensions". The extension I use is Read Aloud which was good enough.
Under my Ξ menu is an entry for “extensions” to add or manage extensions. Read Aloud shows up as a megaphone icon I can quickly click or tap. You may need to tweak the browser settings to show extensions, mind show up before the minimize maximize top right but I think I shortened the URL bar (some call search) to make room for extension icons.

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Hope that made sense. I know reader programs may also offer speed controls and better-sounding voices if you look around. Play Aloud keeps record of the pages but you only have play, pause and stop.

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I learned about Bookshare through my daughters’ special ed teacher consultant. It’s pretty vast subscription library of digitized books for readers with print disabilities. Downloads are permanent. Annual fee is $50. Members must have documentation proving a qualifying disability.
A note about ereaders and file formats: Kobo and Nook (from Barnes and Noble) will use the .epub file format that’s available in Bookshare, but Kindles will NOT.

Why Use Bookshare?

Hundreds of thousands of people with dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairments, physical disabilities, and other reading barriers have read millions of Bookshare books. It has empowered them to study for school, pursue careers, and read for fun. Why do so many people use Bookshare?

Read Your Way

Listen to books, follow along with karaoke-style highlighting, read in braille or large font, and customize your reading experience with ebooks in formats that work for YOU.

1,100,715 titles

Access a huge collection of titles and find virtually any book you need for school, career, or the joy of reading.

Read on the device YOU choose

Read anytime, anywhere you want with devices like computers, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, assistive technology devices, and more.

Lowest cost

Read as many books as you want: FREE for qualified U.S. students and schools, and less than $1 per week for other members.

Who qualifies for Bookshare?

To join Bookshare, you must have a reading barrier that qualifies for Bookshare. Learn about qualifications.

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I am considering a dedicated reader though have Kindle app on my iPad as I understand easier to read on a dedicated black and white reader. The variety of Kindles has me confused. Any particular one you would recommend?

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I’ve liked Kindle paperwhites, though I haven’t had a new one in a while. It is time for me to upgrade because my current Kindle has to be balanced at a very specific angle to charge now and it’s a pain.


My eyes really prefer e-ink to backlit screens. They are also great outside, because the background is solid, not transparent. It mimics paper well.

I just did a presentation on this for a church librarian’s group (ECLA).
In brief:
The kids deal on the basic kindle and the paperwhite are the best deal on them. (Case, no ads, extra year warranty for the same price as the base models with no ads).
The basic kindle is quite a good deal in the world of readers.
The paperwhite is a little bigger and a good deal for the screen size.
I haven’t used the oasis, but it is pricey, when you compare the specs to other brands with similar features.
Kindle is limited to their .mobi file format, but books are easy to find

PDFs are terrible on all the ereaders I have used. So, while you can see a PDF on an ereader, it’s a different matter to actually read one.

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I went through the presentation I gave recently on ereaders, and pulled some of the information out that I thought might be useful to this group.

Sources of ereader reviews that I have found helpful:

The Big Three ereader companies:
(Kobo’s website is not working well these days. I don’t know what the problem is.)
There are many others. Use the review sources to look for alternatives, if you are interested.

Some (evangelical) christian ebook deal hunters:
Tim Challies –
Christian Kindle Deals –
Christian Book Finds –
Inspired Reader –
Faithful Reads –

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Thanks for flagging this. That sounds like a brilliant resource!

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There’s no way my eyes can do the page after page intensive reading they used to do. I use Bookshare books in a number of ways as needed.
It’s hard for me, dealing with a lot of factual content, when my brain has been wired over decades for visual reading with the ability to physically manipulate the material by writing and underlining in my books, but it’s worth the wrangling.

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Internet Archive is a mind-boggling resource for all sorts of digitized books (as well as other content like movies, software, and much much more). Available text-based materials can be read on computer screen, but many also have an in-browser audio reader option. I’ve used this for work, and it was a huge help.

Because of copyright, newer (take that loosely) items may not be available to everyone. It is possible, though, for print impaired readers to sign up for disability access. I believe you will be required to show some sort of proof of disability in the application process.
It’s been a while since I did it.
Disability access provides wider access to materials and also allows users to download many many, if not all the books available, and then side-load (move the downloaded ebook file from the computer to the ereader via a wired connection). File formats include DAISY as well, which can be used with braille display.

For fun, take a look at an article by Deb Haarsma, et. al.: Faint Radio Sources and Star Formation History:
Faint Radio Sources and Star Formation History : Deborah B. Haarsma : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.

Go ahead and search Internet Archive, and get your free basic account set up:

Play around and find cool stuff in their “ebook” collection:

Learn about and sign up for access for people with print disabilities:

Have fun loading up your ereaders! Or whatever reading tool you prefer.

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Liam, a thread came up in my “suggested topics” list that just jarred my memory. I wanted to mention Open Dyslexic font.
I have not done any research on the validity of its claims, but it’s available on all the ereaders from the “Big Three” and many of the reading apps I use.
One of my daughters is visually impaired and likes it. I think for her the “weighted” letters help her eyes track a bit better. Or she just likes the coolness factor of it–makes me imagine the alphabet wearing bell-bottom pants. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what her motivation is. : )

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