A few weeks ago, I dug up my e-reader again. It is a tolino page, which I got in 2018 and hadn’t used since mid–2019. The tolino page was released in 2016, back when tolino didn’t cooperate with Kobo.

I was surprised to find the battery still half–way (47%) charged after I awoke it from its slumber of two and a half years.

I did not abandon this device for no reason. In 2019, the USB connector started developing a loose connection, due to unintelligent cable handling on my side, making everything but charging very unreliable. It was and still is hard to load new stuff on it¹, so, one day, I just put it into a drawer and forgot about it. Now, I managed to load a bunch of books on there in one go, which should keep me set for at least a year or so. It’s not that pressing of an issue anymore, but still something that ought to be fixed eventually.

After having reactivated the e-reader, I had found the battery usage decreasing, not alarmingly but rather, warningly. With an average reading time of 30 minutes to 1 hour per day, roughly 40 to 70 pages², the battery holds up for about a week until it falls to its knees.

I’ve read on forums before that, on other tolino models, battery replacement can be purchased from third–party vendors and replaced in the model, due to the battery being a generic one I can just buy on akku.de. The manual, however, explicitly states that the end consumer can not (note: it says ‘can not’, not ‘may not’) perform a battery replacement, but, really, who can stop me? The guarantee is long gone, and from reports on the forum I’ve read that the repairs cost ~60€, which is about the price of the e-reader when I got it. I don’t know what kind of battery the tolino page uses (if you do know, please tell me.), but I hope it’ll be cheaper than a new device.

And, regarding the USB connector, I’m fairly certain that this will be an easy fix, it is just a USB connector, these things are abundant.

The whole e-reading experience is fine, even if it lacks some advantages of physical books. I like the plastic casing the e-reader has, it provides grip and a surface to slide my fingers across (I fidget while reading). However, physical books have a greater sensory gratification, they’re more interesting to just pick up and read.

Another thing is the smell. Lending a book from a library is like the world’s most harmless lottery. It could be the sweet smell of old paper, or the alkaline smell of the library, or the smell of whomever had lent it before you. With e-books, the only smell is the e-reader’s, which is a nice smell, but always the same.

Recently I’ve realised that I really like looking at serif fonts. I cannot explain why, but looking at them just makes me happy. It recalls in my head the romantic idea of ‘reading a book’, taking so much of my attention that I, here and there, forget to actually read the book in front of me, and just focus on the font itself.

I notice this especially on my e-reader, as it has a very nice font. I don’t know what it’s called; the e-reader only lists it as “Verlagsschrift”, which is the font option chosen to use the font preset by the e-book. Most e-books, however, do not preset fonts, so it just resumes to the default, the name of which I don’t know.³

E-readers are nice to have, I conclude, but the features of current flagship models do puzzle me. Who needs all of this‽ I am anxious that a feature creep similar to what is happening in the smartphone world is already taking place in the market for e-readers.

The tolino page, in my opinion, is probably the best kind of e-reader I can imagine. Granted, I did not have the honour to try out other ones, but, paying respect to the fact that behind every device is a large footprint of toxic and human-rights-violating procedures, perhaps the goal should be having one e-reader for ten or more years. The tolino page lacks a frontlight, something considered a basic necessity on every model released in the last five years. With its 2 gigabytes of space it is also marked with a smaller memory than other models, though not by a long shot. I respect tolino for this, it truly is a basic model that cuts out any of the optional nice-to-haves in order to put a rather low price on a decent e-reader.⁴

¹ Tolino devices support wireless transferring of ePubs using the “tolino cloud” feature, for which you need to register an account at the bookstore chain where you bought the device from. I would rather have the built-in browser be able to download ePubs. This way, I’d be able to download e-books directly from StandardEbooks or ProjectGutenberg without needing a cloud or computer inbetween.

² Estimate: I read Terry Pratchett’s “The Colour of Magic”. I breezed through that one.

³ If anyone knows, oh so please tell me how it’s called. I’d love to write some reports in that font.

⁴ I found a listing for a tolino page for 25€ (including shipping). As it is a used model, though, I expect battery problems and perhaps a connection problem akin to my problems to occur.