My brief experience with the black Literati

I have been on the lookout for a dedicated color ebook device all year.  When I came across the Literati on Overstock,  I thought my search could be over.   They only had the black model available, which I thought looked much better than the white Literati.  I paid $149.99 and only one dollar for shipping.

Literati ScreenThe device arrived in a very large box, much larger than was needed.  This theme carried through to the retail package, which was the size of a  family Bible.  Inside the reader was sealed in an almost-impossible-to-open blister pack.  After fighting to get the reader and other contents out I wished I had saved my time.  Aesthetically the reader is rather homely looking.  It is too long and narrow with the keyboard taking up at least 25 per cent of the space.  In spite of the size the screen seems really small.  I was also disappointed by the plastic casing.  It felt really cheap and I doubt if it could withstand a good drop.  The back of the reader was really scuffed, probably due to the way it was packed.  The included cover had better protective packing than the reader.  A quick start guide was included with the Literati.  In order to get a full user manual I had to download it online.

Before I get into the problems I experienced, I want to at least say something nice about the Literati.  The screen was nice and bright, almost reminiscent of my REB1200.  That’s it.

My home network has a numeric password so input was a pain on the Literati.  In order to type numbers you have to hold down (and keep holding) the Alt key. The keyboard number placement makes it difficult to tell if the key to the right or the left was correct.  After a few tries, I finally got my password in correctly.  According to the quick start guide I should have gotten a message to update the firmware once I connected to WiFi.  That didn’t happen.

Moments later I discovered that the page turn “buttons” would not work.  That’s when I called the tech support number.  I expected to get Merchsource (the company who licensed the Sharper Image brand), but I got Kobobooks.  The guy knew no more than I did.  Why is Kobo providing tech support for a device that they don’t make?

Fed up, I decided that this reader had to go back to the store.  In preparation I reset the device back to factory default.  When I checked to make sure that the reset had worked, the page buttons started working.  I got my hopes up and reconnected to my network and this time the update notice popped up.  I got more excited thinking that maybe there was some hope for this reader.

All hopes died once I started reading. I found that there were only two font choices, and not much better choice in font size.  The already small screen loses valuable real estate because the margins are just too big.   There is no option to change it.

Following the instructions in the manual I added my epub books onto my SD card.  I could not get one to open.  I also loaded books via Calibre and while that did go smoothly, the Literati would not open any of the files.

I went to Literati’s Facebook page and posted my issues, and got the following response a day or so later:

“Ellen, we are releasing two firmware updates within the next couple of days. The updates will automatically be pushed to your Literati when you connect to a wireless network. If you still experience a problem, please contact support at 1-866-204-4714.”

Nice to get a response, but it didn’t really answer my question.  So quickly I boxed my Literati up and sent it back to Overstock.  On my way home I stopped by Kohl’s and noticed that they carry the reader in white.  The white model looks and feels much more solid than my black one.  I also noticed on the demo that the margins looked better, but not enough to tempt me to ever buy this reader again.

So my search for a dedicated color reader continues.


  1. Scott Lewis13 October, 2010

    This tells me there is possibly a bigger market than I thought for a 7″ iPad, if for some miracle they manage to release it for say $299.

  2. Ellen13 October, 2010

    I would love to have a smaller ipad. I can see carrying it in my purse everywhere. As far as price goes, where would it fit in? The top ipod touch is 400 and the lowest ipad is 500. Would people buy the touch if therey could get a larger screen for basically the same price? Just in case the miracle happens, I am already saving for my ipad mini.

    1. Kay18 May, 2011

      I have a white literati and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! My husband just recently bought 3 black ones because he liked the look better than the white one and we bought 2 for gifts. So far, we only opened one and cannot get it to do ANYTHING!!! I have already contacted the seller and we are going to box it up and send them all back. We purchased the white one at Bed Bath and Beyond for $39.99 – an awesome deal!!! I also have a Sony ereader which I like too but I like the literati better.

  3. Alexander Inglis13 October, 2010

    Did you get as far as trying actual colour content on it? At $159, the price is a steal (assuming it delivers) … but at that price a b&w e-ink delivers a better experience. So … someone buying this wants colour. I dunno … recipe books? travel books? children’s books? etc. I wonder what that experience is like?

    Also, were you able to make an assessment of the battery life / recharge time?


    1. Ellen14 October, 2010

      I did get to look at some color, but only the book covers in the Kobo Book Store. The colors were nice and crisp. That is what makes this so sad since I really like the screen. If the reader software was better I would have used it for my pdf patterns for crochet and knitting. I think that it would have been quite nice for that. Currently I use my iPad for my crochet patterns and magazines. I find that Goodreader is the best. It even opens my password protected pdf files from Crochet World.
      Since I was returning the reader I didn’t check battery life etc.

      1. Alexander Inglis14 October, 2010

        Thanks at least for this much.

        The Literati, at $159, is not aimed at someone who already has an $800 iPad. It is being sold in middle America stores like Macy’s and Bed & Bath etc. I can’t see someone swapping b&w for colour just for book covers. I’m trying to nail down how the Literati performs for colour e-book content since that’s the reason to buy it. I’m also unclear what sort of (commercial) colour e-book content exists.

  4. Mike Cane14 October, 2010

    Get the Archos 70 Internet Tablet. Then get Aldiko, Amazon, Nook, and Kobo software on it. Problem solved. More money than the Literati but as you’ve seen, you get what you pay for.

  5. Zigwalski14 October, 2010

    Get a black and white e ink reader. They are far better right now than the color ones for the price you pay. Color e ink is just around the corner and in two years tablet devices will have merged with current e readers to come out with the perfect device. If you need color, then stick with the printed version. Right now it’s technology is still ahead 🙂

  6. aaron48317 October, 2010

    I have the same experience. No way of contacting the company. The phone number on their support page is no help. They said they do not support Literati. They support the wifi service. The support page has a form to fill out to tell them what the problem is but fails to work. The problem — I will not recognize any pdf’s or ebooks you install yourself. It is why I bought it. Please- If anyone knows how to contact the company, Please post. And pleas don’t say “on Facebook”. I will never join.

  7. Thulsad00m25 November, 2010

    Save your money and get the notion Ink ADAM Tablet.

    1. Nate the great25 November, 2010

      That will probably be a great tablet if it’s ever released, yes, but it’s also expensive.

    2. Cassandra13 March, 2011

      Yea, you can “save” your money and go for the NotionInk one, but at $600 bucks a pop! Hmm…$60 or under for a Literati or $600 for the Adam…that’s like comparing apples and bread. Oh wait, you can’t…

  8. Will28 November, 2010

    I recently bought the same item for my fiance and she has yet to encounter any problems. It updated immediately out the box. I was also able to drag & drop all her books to the Literati, which is a piece of cake. It seems to be a great color e-reader. Unlike the other well known e-readers, the Literati operating system is not proprietary. Which means it can handle books from the other providers. I think each e-reader has pros/cons. None are perfect. However, I’m a fan of open format. This put the Literati at the top of my list above the others. I give the Literati two thumbs up.

    1. tim12926 December, 2010

      This last comment by Will is damage control by the manufacturers. Stay away from this cheap scratched buggy peice of junk. Oh, and the battery life on BOTH literati’s we tested was about 3 hours.

      1. Cassandra13 March, 2011

        Did you keep the wi-fi connection on the whole time? Because I am able to use mine for 5.75-6 hours at a time between charges. Wi-fi drains battery (which the packaging, website and reader all tell you), so you will get about half the battery time with it on.

    2. Denise1 January, 2011

      So Will, where did you find the books on your computer (name of file) to be able to drag and drop them to your Literati? I’m trying to use th edesktop application since I don’t have WiFi.

    3. Alice4 November, 2011

      will how do i get a manual for mine i got mine from ebay and didn’t come with a manual how do i get one. thank you

  9. Chuck26 December, 2010

    I just got this for christmas…was able to download and buy one book…now it won’t connect wirelessly anymore and if I reset it will delete the book I paid for…What a hunk of crap. Going back to paper and ink bookcase models. Disgusted

  10. redglobug28 December, 2010

    By the way, I paid 59.99 for it at Macy’s

  11. Nora28 December, 2010

    Well from reading all the post I am getting even more disappointed. My husband bought the Literati for me for Christmas. It took me forever to get it to work on the wireless connection. I finally connected it to my computer and did some sort of download. Once I did this after I unlugged it from the computer and rebooted it, it then said to update which I did. Once it updated I rebooted it again and it connected to the store. One of the reasons we got this one is because of the night reading setting which is not on it at all and it obiously didn’t download in the update. So now I am confused, does it have it or not. All the times I have turned it on since Dec 25th probably 4 out of 20 time it found the network and worked. Still not sure if I should keep fighting with it (hoping suddenly it’s going to work) or if I should just send it back.

    1. Ann1 January, 2011

      Don’t give up. I’ve bought three Literati’s so far…and a few problems with each but now basically love mine…as does my neighbor who received one for Christmas. The key seems to be that you MUST download the new software before you try to do anything… and, the drag and drop works perfect, if you use the epub format. Also, don’t forget to look in the “new” area if you add books.. people don’t see their books because when you first add them they only show in the “new” section. I can read for 3-4 evenings… so about 6 hours on a charge. That’s enough for me.

  12. Chris4 February, 2011

    The white is nicer than the black in all respects but one–the round D pad on the black is larger and much nicer than the tiny square on the white. Otherwise the build quality on white is better.

  13. Cassandra13 March, 2011

    I recently got a white Literati at a store after Christmas for a STEAL…we’re talking UNDER fourty dollars! I bought two, one for me, one for my sister. I still have not given my sister hers, but if it works as seamlessly as mine, I know she’ll love it. Since opening the box, I have NO problems with the reader. Colors on screen are great, has like 5 different choices for sizes in font (which my mom loves because she’s blind in one eye and she can read with this NO PROBLEM), feels nice and sturdy and INCLUDED a case, which is a $14-20 savings . I’ve downloaded multiple books from Kobo with no problems. Did have a little trouble with a book that I borrowed a digital copy of online from my local library, but that was an issue with the library, not the Literati. I have absolutely no complaints about this ereader except for maybe the small, square buttons on the keypad. Makes it harder to type, but really…how much do you type on the reader? It’s not like its a tablet or ipad that you can browse online with. For the price on this ereader, it’s a deal and you can’t go wrong. For everyone looking for a iPad or Nook quality item for the price of this Literati…keep looking…

  14. pat25 March, 2011

    My daughter bought me the white one earlier this year. it worked fine for awhile. i can’t get it to turn on. i called support, they are sending me out a form to return this one for a new one. the night light worked great. battery life is too short. it lasts longer with wifi turned off. pages turn slow. i don’t know how good color is yet. i’ll try the next one and see how that goes.

  15. Diane29 April, 2011

    I got my black Literati for Christmas. I just love mine! I had only one problem with it. It wouldn’t turn on after being charged. I reset the reader, and haven’t had a problem since. Love the case, size of screen, and font sizes. I prefer the night reading setting – all of the time. It is much easier on my eyes, since I work on computers all day….so black background, and white font is great. I have ordered several books from Kobo and find it pretty easy. I still need to move the book from Borders online that I purchased to my reader. My daughter has a Kindle, and I prefer mine to hers!!!

  16. Chris5 May, 2011

    I got a black Litarati for Christmas as well, and love, love, love it. I haven’t yet taken it out in the sun to read, but I am sure that the Sepia or the night setting will do fine in the sun. I was able to transfer pics of hairdoos on it to take to my hairdresser to give her an idea of what I wanted, and plan to put some pics from my camera on it. I haven’t yet gone outside of Kobo to find books to download on it, still working on all of the books they have to offer. I have had to reset it a few times when it froze (the first time, I panicked….thought it was broken). I have recommended it to others, they have bought it, and love it over the Kindle because of the night reading feature, and the color. A friend has the white Litatati, and is envious of my black Litarati.

  17. Michael23 June, 2011

    Ellen I think perhaps you didn’t give the Literati enough of a chance. I picked two of these up recently for less than $60 plus shipping. Granted I have had a few issues with slow response time to button presses, I can’t really complain about this eReader. Even at full retail price, you get what you pay for. So going for a cheaper color reader you should be expecting a few glitches. I have not experienced any freezes yet, however I have only used the Literati for a day so far. I don’t know if I would recommend this at full price, however if you can get a decent deal on it there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this eReader for an entry level reader. I bought this for my father since he tends to read when he sleeps and is always losing his page. With the automatic bookmarking feature this is no longer a problem and the case the Literati comes with has already prevailed through a few drops from a high bed.

  18. […] Literati was available in 2 models, black and white. Both models had a 7″ LCD screen, SD card slot, Wifi, and these funky page swipe […]

  19. Julie g24 October, 2017

    I lost my charger…do I need one specific one or can I use one that fits my literati?

    1. Nate Hoffelder25 October, 2017

      Does the replacement say it provides 5V power?

      If so, you can use it with the Literati.


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