The Outdoorsman

An e-reader is a camper's best friend

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More from Outdoor Living Newsletter May Outdoor Living Newsletter
Man reading ebook at picnic table with a for sale sign on the pile of books
Leave those heavy books behind and bring an e-reader on your next trip

Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures. It brings you to many different worlds, keeps you informed and entertains. As busy schedules and the frantic pace of city life compete for our time, at no other time has the need to return to nature and slow ourselves down with a good book been so great. So, people resort to nature, to the outdoors: quiet and peaceful. But even that poses an important challenge: space limitations in tents and RV's reduce the number of books you can bring with you. What then is an avid reader to do on a camping or RVing trip? Well, modern times provide modern solutions and for all you book-loving campers and RVers, heed the wonders of the e-reader.

An e-reader, or electronic reader, is a device that stores reading materials for easy and convenient reading. They are typically the size of a paperback book, yet thinner and lighter. Most e-readers are equipped with a wireless Internet function that enables them to download materials straight from the web to the device. Users can download books, newspapers, journals and other documents.

Benefits of an e-reader:

  • An e-reader is compact, light and portable. The size and weight of paper books limit the reader from moving to and from places with their books. Most RVs do not have big enough space for lots of books, but with an e-reader, you won't even need a book shelf in your RV. The average e-reader doesn't exceed 12 inches in length, weighs around 10 ounces and can be carried anywhere you go. Depending on the memory of your e-reader, you can store up to thousands of books in one powerful device.
  • E-books are cheaper to purchase. With printing costs out of the equation, e-books are cheaper to purchase. For example, you'll see that the eBook version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's: The Complete Sherlock Holmes costs $3.50, while a paperback costs $10 and a hardcover, $23.10.
  • E-reader is a great help to visually challenged bookworms. Paper books have an average font size of 11, which can be tough for people with eye problems. E-reader has font size change and zoom in functions so that font size can be increased and parts of the book such as photos and diagrams can be zoomed in to.
  • E-readers secure your privacy, especially when you're reading sensitive materials. Not all people are happy to let other people know that they're reading books on marital problems, health disorders or financial advice. These are regarded as sensitive topics and are kept private from other people. E-readers do not have book flaps that announce the title and subject of the book; they also have settings so that only you can read from your monitor and the person next to you can see only a gray screen.

Here are's top picks for e-readers:

Amazon's Kindle

America's largest online retailer,, started the revolution for electronic reading. Kindle was introduced to the market in 2007 and was sold out in a little more than 5 hours on its first release. There are now 3 versions of the Kindle in the market. It is Wi-Fi capable, can hold more than 3,500 e-books and other reading materials, has an archiving function, and can display real page numbers so users can read along with other paper book readers. Unfamiliar words can be defined in an instant with its built-in dictionary with instant lookup; drag the cursor to the word and the definition will automatically appear at the bottom of the page. The regular sized Kindle with WiFi measures 7.5" x 4.8" x 0.335" weighs 8.5 ounces and costs $139. Kindle with WiFi + 3G has the same dimensions but weighs 8.7 ounces and costs $189. The larger Kindle DX measures 10.4" x 7.2" x 0.38" and weighs 18.9 ounces and costs $379.

Barnes & Noble's NOOK

One of America's largest book retailers, Barnes & Noble, released their version of an e-reader called the NOOK in the latter part of 2009. It combined the function of e-book reading with Wi-Fi and AT&T 3G. NOOK eBook Reader WiFi only measures 7.7" x 4.9" x 0.50", weighs 11.6 ounces retails at $149. NOOK ebook reader WiFi + 3G measures 7.7" x 4.9" x 0.50", weighs 12.1 ounces retails at $199. NOOK Color eBook Tablet, the latest from Barnes & Noble, has an internal memory of 8 GB, which can translate to up to 6,000 books. Its memory can be expanded further to up to 32 GB - download books to your heart's content! It measures 8.1" x 5.0" x 0.48" and weighs 15.8 ounces and retails at $249.

Apple iPad

The iPad has functions and capabilities of a touch-screen personal computer; the latter may even be more powerful, with all its features and applications. It has Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity functions so downloading eBooks (more specifically iBooks) is a breeze. The iPad has a built in memory of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB so you can allot space for your reading while allowing space for your games, media and other application. It has 10 font sizes and 5 font types available so users can customize according to what suits them well. There are two main models - "First generation" and iPad 2. The iPad size and weight varies depending on the exact model and specification you choose, but is bigger and heavier than the NOOK and Kindle. The cost of the first generation ranges from $399 to $799 (and has now been discontinued) and the iPad 2 from $499 to $829.

e-Readers mean you can ditch the paperbacks and hardbacks on your next camping road trip. It takes less space, weighs less and enables you to have many more books to choose from. Happy reading!

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