Snowbirding 101

The wonderful world of eReaders

RVers benefit a lot from this fascinating piece of technology

woman holding a KOBO eReader
The KOBO device is the author's choice. — Jennie Faber photo

“I'm an avid reader and I love books. I love the feel of holding the book, turning the pages, of thinking about all the people who scanned those pages before me. Having said that, we travel in a smaller motorhome and books are awkward, heavy, take up a lot of space and are hard to store. We are considering an eBook reader and would like more information about them.” ~A.T.

A.T., I can certainly relate to what you are saying. Over half of the 150 people I asked online about their use of eBook readers do not use them even though some of them have eReaders. Everyone has a reason, information and advice that I have tried to bring together below.


There are more and more choices and the choices are becoming more and more refined and expanded every day. Click here for some reviews.

1. Dedicated eBook readers:

These are stand-alone devices that store and read eBooks (although these are gradually incorporating an Internet capacity). Generally, they are easier to read from than a computer screen; some are back-lit so you can read in the dark; most have screens that allow you to sit in the sun and read. They have enough gigabytes to set up your own library and can store hundreds of eBooks.

On top of this, in most cases, eBooks are less expensive than paper books and some of them are even free. There are positives and drawbacks to each one of the devices. For RVers, the most poignant features are having access to and the ability to pack so much reading material into a single hand-held device—to cut back on the amount of space used up by books as well as lessen the weight load. The greatest drawback is our resistance to adopting this new technology.

a. Our choice for an eReader has been the KOBO. First of all, the KOBO is Canadian and a Chapters & Indigo product. We can download eBooks from the library over the Internet no matter where we are and read them on the KOBO which you cannot do with some of the other eReader products. You can change the fonts to a size that suits you and it is easy to use. It comes with over 100 eBooks, most of which are classics, and it has wi-fi capacity.

b. Kindle is undoubtedly the most popular eReader. Kindle is owned and produced by Amazon and only recently has become available through Canadian retailers. The Kindles have wi-fi capabilities and are reputed to be easy to use and the best quality. Some are also equipped with text-to-speech capabilities. Kindle was not our choice because you are
tied into getting eBooks from Amazon and you cannot download them from libraries.

c. Some people use their iPads as eReaders. They report that the screen is smaller and it has a shorter battery life but it allows them to access the Internet.

What to consider in an eReader:

  • Content Type
  • Storage/Memory
  • Display Preferences
  • Connectivity
  • Battery Life

2. The second alternative to an eBook reader is the computer itself. RVers have said:

“I downloaded the eReader software for both the Kindle and the Nook. I have not bought an actual reader because when I have time to read, I am around the computer where I get a larger display and easy-to-use setup.”

"I often read from the computer. I use the Kindle software and reverse the background-text to white text on a black background. I find it easier to read. We have found a great program—Calibre—that will find ebooks and convert them to
whatever format you need.”

Last but not least, another response pointed out that the RVer, “loves the experience of going into a book store . . . So I do a combo—look in the bookstore and when I see something that catches my eye I look for it electronically . . . I can’t bring myself to read anything electronic when I am relaxing in the bath. (I) still need a good paperback for that.”

By the way, we travel with two KOBOs and three computers and we try to keep the other books to bird books, wild flower books, travel books and maps.

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