Ask CG: Do You Need A Computer To Use An E-Reader?

Our ever-popular Ask CrunchGear email address overfloweth with e-reader questions. Tuesday, we tackled the general question of whether an e-reader was a good idea. Today we receive a similar question from Marilyn, who asks:

Do you have to have a computer to operate an e-reader? I want to purchase one for my mother but she doesn’t have a computer. How would this work?

Thanks for writing in, Marilyn. There are lots of options for e-readers out there, and each of them has a different approach to how you get and organize your books. But the short answer to your question is no, you don’t need a computer.

If your mother were to get a Kindle, she could do without a computer altogether. The store and everything are built into the device, which has a constant connection over the same kind of network your mobile phone uses. While it might be more convenient to put in all your account information on a computer and do the initial setup there, that would be a one-time or at least relatively rare worry. After that, she can browse and purchase books and periodicals directly from the device using the interface they have in place for that.

For this reason, I would suggest a Kindle, because it’s the most established and straightforward all-in-one e-reader and e-book store out there. There are other options, but the Kindle is probably the best for now.

If, however, you want to be able to browse through books in full color, quickly read excerpts and read reviews, a computer is still a good idea. It sounds to me like your mother just wants to read books, so this isn’t as much of a concern, but some people like the additional support a computer provides.

Hope that answered your question (and a few related ones).

Have a question for us? Email and we’ll do our best to answer your concerns, queries, or ransom notes.