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4Mar/110

Cheap ereaders – Be careful about what you buy





Cheap ereaders are not always a good bet.

Now that the ereader has become an accepted device in the world, one that millions of people have become aware of and wish to own, an increasing number of very cheap  ereaders are being bought up by large supermarket and household goods stores and are being offered at remarkably low prices.    On the face of it, this would seem a good thing, after all, if you can buy an ereader for  less than why not grab it?

Why not indeed?

Well, there are a few things  you should consider before parting from your money to become the owner of one of these cheap ereaders.   They are cheap because they are cheaply manufactured in China using cheap components put together by very badly paid workers with absolutely no sort of quality control (I know about these factories, as I lived in China for some time, and saw many such places, and also had many bad experiences of the low grade products they make).  So you always run a very real risk that the example you have purchased simply wont work, or will give up the ghost within a very short time.

I have reviewed a number of these cheap ereaders here on this blog, and in most cases I have been mildly to extremely rude about them too.   But in every case, I was instantly buried in comments and emails from people who had purchased one or other of these cheap ereaders and who were extremely happy with them.

In the beginning, all is well…. But after a couple of months…..

However, it is noticeable that the comments and emails changed after these ereaders had been on the market for a couple of months… Then it was more a series of complaints and cries for help, as people began to have more and more problems with their cheap ereaders and discovered that the shops they purchased these ereaders from did not offer any real support for their woes.   Mostly the best that was offered was to exchange the defective ereader for another one… which stood an equal chance of giving problems………

One  problem is that many of these ereaders do not conform to the various de facto standards that have grown up around ereaders, many for example have no form of support for Adobe Digital Editions – which you need if you wish to buy ebooks from commercial online ebook sellers, thus limiting yourself to getting hold of non-DRM protected ebooks, which are to a very large extent books that you might well not really want to read… All the classics for example.   If  you are a moderately competent computer user it is always possible to change the format of any ebook you buy using a program such as Calibre, but this is not something that most people who buy such ereaders from their nearest super market are often able or willing to do.

Or they only work with PDF files, and wont work with ePub, which effectively stops you from reading the bulk of ebooks out there.

Another problem is simply one of quality, these ereaders are as I said above, cheaply made, and thus tend to breakdown, or their batteries, also the cheapest the makers could find, die making it impossible to recharge the ereader… and so the list goes on….

You get what you pay for…………………………………..

It is, as always, you get what you pay for.   Expensive, known brand ereaders – Kindle, Sony, Kobo, Nook and so on, cost more since they are made with much better quality components and are supported fully by their makers, which is mostly not the case with the cheap Chinese ereaders.

So, by all means buy one of these cheap devices, but please be aware that you are buying something that probably wont work for very long (unless you are one of the lucky few who happens to get one that was made on a Monday morning) and will probably be very clumsy to work with.

Interesting Chinese site:

To give you an idea of how many small factories there are in China churning out these cheap ereaders, it is worth having a look at this (english language) website, a sort of Chinese eBay where companies offer their wares to the world outside China….  See picture above.  Link: http://www.dhgate.com


You might consider buying a handful of these ereaders and giving them away for Christmas gifts……

So, think before you leap.