My dad was one of (I’m sure) many fathers who was gifted with an ebook reader this father’s day. I had suggested the Libre to my stepmother—I thought it would be easier for him to manage since he wants to read mainly classics and it has folder organization—but she was horrified by how ugly the Libre is, and she had an Indigo gift card burning a hole though her wallet, so Kobo it was. He seems happy with it. It’s always instructive for me, the techie, to see how the newbie does!
POSITIVE FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I think techie me was a little too worried about the finer details—as he explored his new toy and ran into the occasional glitch, I was full of apologies about things like the font scaling issue and the lack of ability to control the pre-loaded content. But Dad was unbothered by these things. If one book didn’t work, he had plenty of others to look at. He passed the Kobo around for stepmom (a die-hard ‘I would miss the smell of paper’ type) and the brothers to see.
He was thrilled too with the on-board classics, literary geek that he is. My mother couldn’t wait to be rid of them on hers, but Dad is the only person I know who has perused the selection and gleefully declared “Look! ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire! For FREE!”
THE SOFTWARE INSTALL
I had pre-loaded some stuff onto a memory card for him, and figured he would use the mighty combination of Calibre and Manybooks.net for most of his content. It turned out I had some issues with my memory card so after a moment’s thought, I downloaded my entire Calibre library for him off the Dropbox cloud. Much of it consists of public domain freebies—I share his love for the golden age of mystery—and what was not share-able was nearly all Star Trek and vampire stuff, which I knew would not interest him and which he immediately deleted. My stuff is all in mobipocket format since I mostly read on the Kindle, but Calibre auto-converted it when he tried to load something onto the Kobo so he didn’t even notice.
Dad’s first ebook acquisition was at Manybooks.net where, after a moment’s careful pondering, he plugged ‘Masefield’ into the search engine and downloaded some boyhood favourite of his which I have never heard of.
His more contemporary wife, on hearing me explain about library books, immediately fetched her library card for me and demanded that I download her some Nora Roberts. Both of them were impressed with the concept of ebook library loans. They loved the idea that they could take the book out and never have to worry about returning it, about acrruing late fees or about dealing with a physical object to take care of. Dad wondered aloud if all library books would eventually be ebook, since it sounds so much easier for everyone involved.
Calibre was a huge hit. I think that he appreciated the idea that others in the house could buy a Kobo and use the Calibre software to share the books with him. I left him with very clear software directions: use Adobe for library books, use Calibre for everything else. He seemed to catch on quickly and was looking forward to sorting out my books and then using the instructions I left him with to go and find new ones.
SUITABILITY FOR NEWBIES
Stepmom has yet to be convinced that she needs one too (I think that once she steals his a couple times, she may get over her ‘smell of paper’ fixation) but she was very interested in checking it out as a potential gift for her mother. I have noticed that nearly everyone I know who is pondering a more advanced device is getting it for themselves; but everyone I have shown the Kobo to seems to have a mother they are pegging it for!
She was waffling between an iPad and ‘something else’ and in the iPad’s favour, her mother could do other things with it. But she worries the iPad will be too heavy to hold and not have as clear a screen to read on. It’s also five times the price, and they would have to spring for a data plan too since Mom hasn’t got wifi. Her father is ill and requires supervision. She likes the idea that her mother could have a small, light thing to carry around with her to read on.
I think Kobo will win a lot of people on its ‘small, simple and cheap’ platform. In spite of my techie quibbles, it really is a good device for newbies who just want to read. I think my stepmon is understandably wary of priving her elderly parents with something they’ll need a lot of tech support to use, and I think the lower price of a device like the Kobo is a bit of a relief to her.
Overall, Dad was very pleased with his father’s day present. I know he’ll spend many happy hours reading public domain classics that only he and Project Gutenberg have heard of. Happy father’s day, Dad!