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Reading in Costa Rica – A How-To Guide for the 21st Century

October 27th, 2013

nookI recently received either an email or a comment from one of my readers asking why I don’t write about devices like Amazon’s Kindle, the Nook, etc. The digital eBook readers. Pretty good idea! So here it is.

My last post covered the affects of humidity on cameras. I hope that it was helpful. Saying that, humidity can do a real job on books as well. If not stored properly, they too can develop mold and mildew (sp. hongos). I know folks that actually shrink wrap books to protect them. Too much hassle for me. I use the latest in gadgets. 21st century stuff!

If this topic is of interest… read on!

I know a lot of people, and certainly a lot of ex-pats and retirees are avid readers and certainly want to enjoy the latest books, newspapers, and magazines as they are released.
However, the times… they are a changin’.  People in the know are saying that the publishing of books, magazines and newspapers is on the way out.  Too costly, too much of an affect on the environment (lotsa trees give up their lives for that Sunday newspaper) and probably most telling are the changes in technology.  Here, I am speaking of the electronic readers, iPads (and their wannabes), smartphones and laptops that instantly can deliver just about anything in print… in seconds… and in High Definition, including photographs. I have started my day for many  years by first reading the news on my iPad using apps (applications) from AP (Associated Press) and the BBC, the only two that seem to deliver news rather than the biased opinions from the major networks, CNN or Fox.  Using my iPod, my iPad or my Samsung smartphone, I also listen or read an average of 2-3 books per week. I have not purchased a hardbound or paperback book in more than five years. The Wall Street Journal is delivered every morning.

Still like the touch/feel/smell of a good book? They are still here and available. You can frequent the book stores or order them over the Internet. They are heavy, expensive, and I would say… inconvenient… and costly!  Then what do you do with them? Most folks, being pressed, admit they seldom re-read a novel. In Costa Rica, the humidity will get to them in time.

The good news is that we live in the 21st century. This is the era of the iPads, iPods, iPhones and other smartphones, Kindles by Amazon, Nook by Barnes and Noble, and audio books by Audible and iTunes.

If you have just about any pad, smartphone, iPod etc, there is almost assuredly a free app, so you never need actually buy a Nook to get and read the latest novels from Barnes & Noble. Same with Kindle/Amazon.

So what works here and what does not? The good news is pretty much everything works just fine here and solves the humidity and disposal issue.

eBook Readers

eBook Readers are electronic devices that you hold in your hand and read books, magazines and other stuff page by page. Swipe with a finger to turn the page. There are two eBook readers on the market that I know of… maybe more. All can, of course, download just about any book in existence for handy reading. Now, some offer Internet connections that allow for email and even watching movies in High Definition. Books, and magazines download and are available to read in just a few seconds. Movies take longer of course.

Nook, by Barnes & Noble, B&N, is a nifty device with a low starting price tag. It is pictured at the top of this post. They offer free books every Friday, but even when you do elect to pay for a book, many or just a buck or so and range higher. They also have fine selection of magazines. Amazon Kindle. Probably the best known of the readers, like B&N they offer a zillion books, mags and movies. They offer many models starting in the low $100 range and more expensive models depending on what you are looking for.

Both the Nook and the Kindle offer free apps for the iPad, iPod and all Android devices. When I cannot find an Audible book (see freebie below) I can and do download it to the Kindle app on my iPad. I pay an average of $2.00-$10.00 per book. A lot cheaper than even a paperback… and no disposal problems.

Audio Books These are certainly not the old “books for the blind” of yesteryear. The readers of these books are often well known actors that bring a whole new level to the novel. They are my preference and I use Audible.Com to download my books. Audible is owned by Amazon and they will download to just about anything like an iPhone, Android phone, laptop or desktops computer, all the many “pads” on the market, iPods… whatever.  I prefer this method so I can “read” at night without disturbing my wife. Saying that, the Kindle app for my Apple iPad is truly excellent.  It allows me to change font sizes, lighting, background color (white, black, or sepia).  It also allows for bookmarking a page and adding notes for your personal use.

Those of you who use iTunes can also buy audio books right right from the iTunes store.  Prices are pretty stupid though and you are better off buying a package deal from Audible that drops the price per book to well under $10.00.

Caveat! Audible, probably because of copyright issues, requires a US or Canada address for billing… probably not an issue for ex-pats here as many of us have a US address, but just a heads-up. Click on the box below to try an Audible book for free.


1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible


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3 Responses to “Reading in Costa Rica – A How-To Guide for the 21st Century”

  1. lynn on October 28, 2013 4:34 am

    And don’t forget to keep your Kindle in a plastic bag at all times, even when in use, along with your phone and camera!

  2. Brian on November 4, 2013 11:39 am

    Using and recharging these devices warms them up which should help to keep them dry and free of mold inside. If they are not used regularly they will probably go the way of your camera. No problem though, they are sufficiently addictive that they will probably be used regularly enough.

  3. paul schmidt on November 27, 2014 7:15 am

    Also you can download the Kindle, Nook, etc. apps for just about any PC, Mac or laptop if you want to go that route.

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