Someone was asking me, so what would you get if you wantd to just read a book. It's an interesting question as there are so many units to choose from. The big three are of course Apple, Kindle or some Android thing (Samsung). But there are so many models. Toptenreviews.com did a quick overview showing in order:
- iPad Mini. This is of course the top rated. The main issue is that it is about to get a retina display apparently, but you can get a refurbished unit for $50 off at $279. The rumored date for the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad 5 is this fall.
- Kindle Fire HD
- Nook HD
- Kindle Paperwhite. PC Magazine also likes this device. It is just $119 direct (the 3G model is $180 so it is close to a full blown tablet). Like the iPad Mini, it is small and weights just 7.5 ounces (6.7 x 4.6 x 0.36 inches). As an aside the $119 means you get to stare at ads. We have the original Kindle and while this sounds bad, in reality it is not a super big deal. As an aside, they like the Nook quite a lot.
In the end, the Kindle Paperwhite is pretty useful as it is very light and has front light for reading even in the dark. Use that plus a gift card for your child so they have a separate account and you are in good shape.
If you have your own files and so forth, Amazon is picky about what it read. It likes the .MOBI format whereas Apple iBooks likes the .EPUB format. Fortunately, there are converters for the many formats like http://ebook.online-convert.com/convert-to-mobi or http://www.epub2mobi.com/ In the fifth generation Kindle, it can read AZW (which is like MOBI but with different DRM), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI and KF8. You can email unprotected MOBI format files to your Kindle if you know its email address. This is free if you do it over Wifi. So if you have PDF, you can email it directly to the device or if you have an public domain book in MOBI format, you can email it as well.
epub seems like the right archive format given it is open although ironically while iBook for IOS reads it, you need a third party viewer to deal with it on a Mac. According to Quora, Most folks seem to use the Barnes & Noble eReader for ePub to read on their computer.