I have been reading on a Kindle Fire for years. An avid reader of paperback novels, I found myself unable to deal with the small print as I got older and my eyesight deteriorated. The constant tension on my fingers from holding the book open and turning pages caused stiffness. Thick paperbacks took a lot of room inside my purse.
I liked the Kindle Fire because it shows book covers in color, and its smaller size fits well in my purse. However, nothing is perfect. I needed two Kindles because their battery life is so short. I always needed a backup to finish a book. Sideloaded books appeared as documents and were not native to my Kindle library. I disliked the proprietary format which Amazon used. I especially hated all the bloat.
I wanted a reader to house any book from any source in one single device. I preferred something similar in size to a thin paperback. I wanted my library in one format which could be read by any reading app. I also wanted to own my books forever, to be able to read them whether an internet connection was available or not.
Most people take for granted the existence and availability of the internet connection. They seem oblivious to the fact that a power outage or the failure of com towers due to any number of natural events can bring down internet connectivity. I spent months without internet or cellular service after hurricane Maria.
I needed a dedicated reader to suit my needs, one both affordable and customizable. I wanted a device free of bloat and ads. This ruled out any device connected to Google (Androids), Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. I did not want to deal with the nightmare of rooting such a device.
The answer came when I visited my daughter and by chance saw her old, supposedly obsolete, 1st generation iPad Mini. It still turned on and seemed to work. It would not load the latest apps because it’s no longer supported by Apple. This meant it no longer received updates. However, it still connected to the Apple network and loaded apps supported by its generation as long as the owner had purchased them (downloaded them) in the past. I own an iPhone, so I already have plenty of purchased apps.
I went into eBay and priced different iPad Mini generations. For around $60, I found an iPad Mini 2 (second gen) which turned out to be in pristine condition and the perfect size to use as a dedicated reader. If you wished to get a more up-to-date one, a gen 3 or 4 would cost more. But honestly, to use only as a reader, a gen 2 or 3 is fine. They are excellent, sturdy, well-designed devices which can still be found in pristine condition and will last for years.
First thing I did was to go into settings and register the device to my name and account. I did a software update. Of course, the software would not update beyond version 12.5.5. Different generations support later updates.
These devices come with limited memory. Mine has only 32 gigs. Books take very little memory compared to music and photos. My novel Angel’s Guardian takes about 1/3 of a megabyte. You can store thousands of books in 32 gigs.
I removed any app I deemed unnecessary. Facetime, music, Game Center, etc. take up space and are not needed for a reader. I left the desktop with only “Settings” and “App Store.” A few items such as “Safari” and “Files” I did not remove but placed them on a folder labelled “Unused” just in case I needed them later.
I clicked on App store. I then clicked on my account (picture on top, right corner- circular shape), and I found the “purchased” option. “My Purchases” came up. A never-ending list of every app I ever downloaded on my iPad, iPhone, etc. came up. I found the ones I wanted to use on my reader.
- Kindle App
- Adobe Digital Editions
- Apple Books
By the way, you can go to the App store on your iPhone or iPad and download any reading app you like. Then go to your purchases on your Mini, and the App will always offer you the last version your device will support. Once you find the one reading app you like best, you can get rid of all the others or keep them as you wish. Several of these apps are must-haves for a dedicated reader device.
Libby is useful for borrowing books from your local library. Bookfunnel can send books which authors gift to you directly to your device. OneDrive (or if you prefer iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive) will allow you to download stored books to any reading app on your device. The Kindle App allows me access to my Kindle library.
I found two reading apps at the App Store which have excellent functionality and get great reviews: FBReader and eBoox. Both these apps offer a wide range of customization. Both apps allow you to view your library in different ways, such as by author, by title, or by order of download.
eBooxs allows you to create shelves. For example, I have shelves for each author and one titled “Classics.” This is the equivalent of Kindle’s collections. You can load books into it in different ways: via browser, via the Cloud (my favorite), via AirDrop, etc. It handles different formats: Epub, pdf, .doc, .docx, mobi, and many more.
FBReader‘s free option allows only ten books locally downloaded, but a lifetime fee of $6.99 unlocks its limit. It will organize your books by author, title, series, recently added, etc. FBReader can be connected through Google Drive to the Book Network. I do not use this function. FBReader can load books via the cloud, local files, etc.
It’s great to have access to all of them in one device. In order to alleviate the task of having to hold the reader at all times, I found a case ($8.99) which props it up and protects it. It comes in many colors!
On my series of posts titled “Take Charge of Your eBooks,” I will tell you how I created an independent, liberated library of all my books, regardless of where they were bought and in what format, and how I easily download each book and keep it stored in my dedicated reader. As long as my reader is charged, I have access to all my books even without an internet connection.