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I am getting ready to go overseas to do an MA in Medieval English Literature and I am trying to decide if it is worth it to buy an ereader (nook, kindle, etc). It will be exorbitantly expensive to ship all of the physical copies of the books that I will need. Thus, my options are to buy an ereader (if it is worthwhile) or buy new copies of the books once I get there. Has anybody tried to do this to cut back on space/cost? Which one have you found to be better for scholarly purposes? I'm assuming that it will be difficult to use it for class textbooks, but what about critical articles? Has citation been an issue? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

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I am getting ready to go overseas to do an MA in Medieval English Literature and I am trying to decide if it is worth it to buy an ereader (nook, kindle, etc). It will be exorbitantly expensive to ship all of the physical copies of the books that I will need. Thus, my options are to buy an ereader (if it is worthwhile) or buy new copies of the books once I get there. Has anybody tried to do this to cut back on space/cost? Which one have you found to be better for scholarly purposes? I'm assuming that it will be difficult to use it for class textbooks, but what about critical articles? Has citation been an issue? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

I was debating on getting one myself. However, for me it would mostly be for my PDF readings, as many of the books I would probably be reading for grad school aren't yet in ebook form. I would seriously check and see if a lot of the books you want to use have an ebook form before buying an ereader. Of course, all the classic literature is there as well as all the new NYT Best Sellers and such, but I found that the collection of scholarly works is not very complete, at least for my field.

To be honest, I'm still on the fence about it and am even considering selling my laptop in favor of an Ipad as a compromise. Does anyone else have any experience with ereaders that might be helpful?

Edited by American in Beijing
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I too am still debating whether they are worth the cost. I recently made a big amazon purchase, about 20 scholarly books, and only about half of them were available to download to the kindle. Buying the books used was cheaper than the reduced price of buying them on the kindle as well. My family members who have a kindle say it's wonderful to use and easy to read, but I think that you would still have to buy or borrow many of the books necessary for graduate school, like textbooks, criticism etc.

I hope santa will bring me one for Christmas so I don't have to cough up the $400 to buy one.

Edited by Gingermick
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The only reason I'm considering an iPad/ebook reader is for the PDFs. However, I can also read all those PDFs on my laptop.

So it's a huge quandary whether to invest $400 in an iPad, or invest those same $400 towards a new laptop (I"m currently leaning towards the laptop...)

As far as the books go - I'm just shipping all my books to the states (the loooooooooooooooooooooong shipping method). I have no intention of losing yet another library due to an overseas move!

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I think it also depends on whether you'd really want to use an e-reader in this capacity. I know that personally I need physical copies of my articles and books because I like inserting marginalia (which I know can be done electronically but I prefer the freedom and ease of just doing it by hand, especially because I draw arrows and bracket off entire sections) and writing my thoughts on the backs of pages. I've used a laptop for several years but I've never gotten comfortable with reading pdfs on the screen--I have stacks and stacks of random articles that I'm only getting around to throwing out now because I'm moving this weekend. It's painful clutter that could easily be solved with an e-reader but the reading experience just isn't the same. Of course, I'm not moving very far and I don't have shipping costs to consider but the fact that I'd probably still have to buy a good number of critical texts would probably still keep me from Kindling (or Nooking, or iPadding).

Also, your e-reader edition of a text might be different from other people's so it might be a slight nuisance when referencing things in a class discussion. Just something else to think about.

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I have a Sony eBook reader, and love it to bits and pieces. I chose it because it's cheaper than the kindle ($250), and can handle various formats more easily (ePub, PDF. .txt, .doc) so you're not tied to Amazon as a source. It doesn't have wireless or any big bells and whistles, but I really wanted a single-function device to prevent distraction. You can pull books off of Project Gutenberg and Google Books with no trouble at all, which is a plus if you're into public domain material.

I find it helps my reading speed and focus. You can change the font size, so as I get tired, I bump it up. That way there's less info on the screen, preventing that "my eyes are floating two inches above a giant block of text but I'm not actually reading" thing. Not having a big physical book in front of me also helps. I don't constantly flip ahead to see when the chapter ends, or what happens next (bad habits, yes). I've read a handful of 600+ page novels on it, and find it very usable. The battery lasts for a week, with 6 hours a day of use.

Plus, it's very shiny and pretty and my friends all ooh and ahh over it. ;)

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  • 1 month later...

I got a Kindle DX when I started my PhD program, and now I don't know how I ever lived without it. The article clutter reduction alone might have saved my relationship, my sanity, and the usability of my office. Moreover, getting books instantly is very handy if the library screws you over with a request and you need a book yesterday!

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I have a Kindle, and I absolutely adore it for light reading. Certainly, you can get what you want quickly and it's easy to carry about.

For scholarly work, I find that the vast majority of books I am reading for grad classes and my own research are not available for the Kindle. There were maybe two this semester of the twenty books I have purchased. Additionally, I find the annotation process much more tedious than old-school writing in the margins or even just making notes on my laptop while I read. With PDFs, I have had troubles. Sometimes they are very difficult to read (if it's not an "official" PDF, for example), and even official ones can be annoying to flip through.

In summation, I'm glad that I have my Kindle. I read lighter scholarly works on it, not to mention the trashy novels from which I cannot sever myself. :) But I do not think we are quite there in this being a replacement for buying the texts one needs for most scholarly research. My two cents. And I'm glad to answer any questions anyone has about the Kindle by the way.

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