E-readers aren’t sexy (but still awesome)


I recently came back from a brief, two-week trip in East Asia which included stops in Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. It was loads of fun! But I made the mistake of bringing a book that I didn’t really like and it made all the waiting in airports super painful.

I know, First World Problems, right?

Well, I really felt sorry for myself because I could have brought my Kindle and bought any other, better, book on the fly.

On a side note, I’d like to congratulate my cousin L. on buying his very first Kindle and welcome him to the weird club of e-reader readers. L. bought the Kindle because he had always wanted one and found out that it qualifies for same-day shipping with Amazon Prime. A fan of new and shiny objects with touch screens, he opted for the Kindle Paperwhite with a built-in light.

I was a little surprised L. bought an e-reader because he’s an early adopter and unlike other portable devices, the e-reader never got its sexy back. It’s more or less still a bonified etch and sketch. Newer versions of Kindles and Kobos have added a fancy light and other high(er) tech upgrades like uh, page numbers and less flickering when turning pages.

In fact, e-readers haven’t even been sexy enough to replace books — which some people argue are unsexy in their own right.


Alas, I’m still a big believer in e-readers and, after all these years, I STILL use my Kindle Keyboard. Yes, it’s got a KEYBOARD and no touchscreen. Isn’t it beautiful?



I can buy books and read them while in bed – without even getting dressed. Also, I can travel with a dozen Russian novels in my back pocket.

So, welcome to the club L. Feel proud because now you can read Fifty Shades on the subway without getting weird looks. (No really, don’t do it.)

P.S. For all you other Kindle owners, check out Buzzfeed’s article on “21 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your Kindle.



Five Things I Learned From Book Blogging

Today is the sixth month anniversary for Broken Penguins! Six months ago, I wrote my first Broken Penguins review for The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. It’s been a great journey and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Here are the five things I learned from book blogging:

1. The best books are the hardest to review.
There’s nothing like putting down a fantastic 400-page novel and then trying to review it in under 300 words. How do you distill all the amazing parts into one interesting review that doesn’t give away all the most important plot lines?

2. The more free books I get, the more I buy.
Book bloggers may tell you that they get free books but they probably don’t tell you that they’re buying so many more books too. The more you blog, the more you read other blogs and the more you want to buy more books. I think publishers who give you free books know this.

3. Book bloggers love young adult fiction.
There are probably thousands of young adult fiction blogs. They’re usually quick and easy to read so it makes it easy to blog about several books a week. Young adult fiction has also come a long way and there are young adult novels for every genre. The common thread? Covers with white girls in pretty dresses. I’ve been guilty of using these photos on my blog but it’s getting hard to tell the books apart:


4. Readers love Kobo Vox.
My most popular blog posts are about Kobo Vox Reader Perks and the Kobo Vox backlight. I noticed so many readers searching for “Kobo Vox backlight” that I wrote a whole other post just about the backlight.

Other popular posts:

5. WordPress doesn’t let you do much.

Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is very easy to use. But it seems like anything fancier than text, images and links doesn’t work on WordPress. That Goodreads Challenge widget? It doesn’t work. An Amazon carousel? Doesn’t work. Unless I get this puppy self-hosted, I won’t be able to get all the bells and whistles on WordPress. Guess I’ll have to get use to minimalism.

What have you learned from blogging?

Photo credits: flickr.cometsy.comm-louis.tumblr.com

Free tools for Kindle

Did I ever mention that I love my Kindle? Because I do. I really, really do. I started reading for fun again after I bought it. For those of you reading off your Kindle, there are a couple free tools that can make your experience that much better.

These tools also apply to those of you reading eBooks with the Kindle app for smartphones and Kindle for PC/ Mac.

My favourite free tools for Kindle:


Calibre is free software that allows you to organize and convert your ebook files. So you can convert PDF files to Kindle files (MOBI) and read it like any other ebook. Calibre’s actually a very powerful tool that can much more than that with the help of plugins but I’ll let you Google it yourself.


EreaderIQ tracks Kindle titles on your Amazon wish list and notifies you when items go on sale. It also keeps a automated list of recent titles that have gone on sale and recent titles that have been priced at $0! It’s perfect if you’ve got your eye on older titles that are priced above $9.99. Those often go on sale after a few months. EreaderIQ will also track when paper titles are available on Kindle. The only downside is that the EreaderIQ site is quite ugly.

Lendle (US only)

Kindle now allows US Residents to lend out their Kindle books for a week – but they can only lend out each book once. Lendle allows Kindle users to borrow and lend books to each other anonymously. And it’s risk-free because after the one week lending period, Kindle automatically transfers the book back the owners. The only downside is that some publishers won’t allow you to lend out/ borrow certain title and if you’re outside the US, you’re out of luck.


BookLending.com does the same thing as Lendle only it allows non-US Residents to freeload off kind-hearted Americans who voluntarily lend out their Kindle library. That means Canadian readers like me can borrow books but cannot lend mine out.

What tools do you use for your ereader?

Related Penguins: Penguin Pulls Kindle Ebooks from Libraries, Kobo Reader Perks, Kindles for all – unless you live outside the US

Photo credits: marthastewart.com

Kobo Book Sale

Just a heads up that Kobo is having an e-book sale to celebrate its two year anniversary! I selected some of the books that caught my eye. You have till December 18th to save on these books and more.

$2 book sale:

~ The Underdog (Agatha Christie, Poirot series) – several other Christie novels are listed.
~ A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
~ Confido (Kurt Vonnegut)

I was little surprised to learn that A Christmas Carol isn’t a free ebook! On a side note, Penguin has released a FREE holiday eSampler for Kobo and Kindle that includes 40 excerpts from classics, 2011 favourites and books to be released in the new year! Penguin claims that it wants to help readers determine what to read in the new year but this will likely make it more difficult for me to choose.

30% off these titles and more (limit of one title per customer)
Promocode: kobobirthday30CA

The Decendents: A Novel (Kaui Hart Hemmings)
~  Mistress of Nothing (Kate Pullinger)
~ I Am Nujood Age 10 and Divorced (Nujood Ali Delphine Minoui)
~ Tell It To The Trees (Anita Rau Badami)
~ The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (Robb Wolf)

I know what you’re thinking – how did a diet book get on the list? I’m not a fan of fad diets but I thought this would be an interesting read. The Paleo diet is based on what cavemen used to eat. Ridiculous right?