Ebook reading goes mainstream when a country has its first Ereader Christmas: that day when half the folk at your family gathering got ereaders for presents. The evidence will be loose and anecdotal, but I reckon this month we’ll see South Africa’s Ereader Christmas. I’m already being asked regularly by friends not whether they should get an ereader for their partner or parent, but which one to get.
I’m unashamedly an Amazon Kindle fan. Not of the device, the tech, or even the generally great prices, but because the customer service is in a league so far above anything else that buying anything else right now is just masochistic. Moreover, there are free Kindle apps for all your other devices, too (phone, PC, tablet), and they’re as nice or nicer to use than their competitors’ software. The Kindle is absolutely the way to go.If you’re buying a Kindle device, there are a few options, but in South Africa there are two I’d go with, if your budget’s around R1500:
$79, basic WIFI Kindle: This is Amazon’s entry-level Kindle. It’s WIFI-only (so you have to connect to a nearby open WIFI network to get books on it), and there are ads on the home page (this brings the price down, and I think that’s worth it). With this one, you could also get a cover (here are some) and ship it within a R1500 budget. Update: Unfortunately this deal isn’t available in South Africa, we get the same Kindle for $109.
$139, Kindle with keyboard and free 3G: This has the big added advantage of having free 3G (i.e. no need for WIFI access) so you can get books on it anywhere there’s cell reception. The keyboard is nice if you want to make notes in your ebooks and for searching for books on Amazon’s Kindle store on the device. If your budget will manage it, definitely go for this one. You can always find a cover from a local store later or make something yourself (here are fifty suggestions!). This one also has ads on the home page; you can pay an extra $50 for one without the ads
, but I don’t see the point. Update: Seems in South Africa we can only buy without the ads, $189.
In South Africa you can buy the basic Kindle from Incredible Connection, but it can cost more overall than buying it direct from Amazon. And shipping from Amazon usually takes less than a week, depending what options you choose when you buy. Happy shopping!
PS: Some South African publishers are working hard to get local books on the Kindle store. Buy South African authors to support them wherever you can. Many local publishers have historically relied on selling imported books here (representing overseas publishers) to subsidise their publishing of local authors. Kindle, for all its loveliness, is killing the market for imported print books in South Africa. That’s an unavoidable casualty in our changing industry. So to keep our literary culture as bright and growing as it is, we’re going to need to consciously support those local authors and publishers for a few years while they find a new equilibrium. At the same time, we need to keep up the pressure on local publishers to get more of their books into the Kindle store.