Dutch NRC newspaper on my iLiad e-book reader

Today I downloaded my first newspaper to an e-book reader (the Dutch NRC Handelsblad on the iLiad reader), and I am really happy with the result. As regular readers of this blog (or of my Twitter feed) know, I am a big fan of e-books. I believe that is the future of reading, as long as the producers manage to get people to try it and if the readers become cheaper. When I travel I can bring all my books with me and I can read my favorite newspaper sitting on a tropical beach – without having to wait for days for it to be delivered, or without having to read it from a laptop screen that is unreadable in the sun. Try it and you’ll love it.

But getting my first newspaper to work was a major hassle. I complained before about the total lack of marketing knowledge at the people behind iLiad. But also the newspaper people have a lot to learn about being user-friendly. First of all it took me a lot longer to get my iLiad then I was originally told. Someone from the Chinareis organization was supposed to bring it to me late March, but the iLiad-NRC combi was delivered a week later than planned (despite NRC assuring me that it would be there on time). So I had to wait for my next trip to Holland to pick it up, which was two weeks ago.

Because I was too busy with other things I waited until two days ago to set it up. First of all I had to create an account at iLiad. Problem is, I already have an account there for my other iLiad so I had to use a different email address. Now I know that I am probably one of the very few people with more than one iLiad at this time, but still they should think about this. Because I don’t use the other iLiad anymore I decided to use that account and use it for my new iLiad.

I followed the steps in the NRC booklet explaining how to set it up but soon hit a brick wall. The booklet told me to go to and click on the activate button. Seems easy to do, except for the fact that there was no activate button. I surfed around and even searched the NRC site for the word ‘activate’ – zero results according to their internal search engine. Finally I tried typing in and to my surprise there I could activate my subscription! I twittered about it, and to my surprise people at NRC were listening in because the next day I got a reply through twitter that they would change the link. I just checked it, and they indeed forwarded now to Thanks!

So everything was ready to download and read my first paper. I kept following the steps in the booklet, connected to my wifi network and the iLiad started searching for downloads. Result: Nothing found to download. Huh? I went back to the booklet, maybe I made a mistake? I tried the whole procedure again but still the same result. I decided to turn my iLiad off and on, that works for Windows computers, so maybe the iLiad might also need a restart first. But no, still the same result. Now I was getting a bit angry and of course I posted about it on Twitter again.

What to do? I looked for a user forum for iLiad users and found one on the NRC site. You had to log in with your NRC subscription code (kind of weird, why not open this up guys? It’s not secret information right?), and then I scanned the questions. Soon I found out that everybody there had the same problem, you have to wait at least 24 hours before your subscription is activated. OK, no problem, but please please please inform people about it. Just put a note next to the activate button on the site for example. The current user experience totally s*cks.

Anyway, now the iLiad has been set up and it works fine. Today the iLiad automatically downloaded my first paper and it was on my machine within one minute. Finally I can read my favorite Dutch newspaper on the day it is published, wherever I am in the world. I am very happy with this, and I hope the e-ink technology will eventually catch on with the bigger population as well.

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  1. Do you know if any e-books support downloading from a RSS reader? That would be cool to read blog posts on the beach,too.

  2. @matt maisel: The Sony ebook reader supports an indirect way of reading selected feeds. In their desktop application (Windows only) you can select feeds (only major ones) that are synchronized each time you plug in your reader. So no real RSS functionality, although it allows you to read some blogs while on the beach.

  3. @Marc van der Chijs: I actually just found the Amazon Kindle and it supports RSS feeds, all done through wireless.

  4. I’m currently considering to buy the Kindl from Amazon. With a usd 399 price tag i think it is far from cheap but the idea of reading my books, fav. newspapers and blog from one small handy device while traveling is very tempting.

  5. @doron vermaat The Kindle is a great reader, although I personally think its looks are plain ugly. But the availability of Amazon books and several newspapers certainly makes up for this. Be aware that you need a US credit card to buy content for the Kindle, if you do not have that you still cannot get books on your machine.

  6. Marc, we had a problem with the iliad in internet cafe’s and hotels, where you need a code to log on to the internet web portal. in our experience, in 98% you need a code to logon to wifi (has nothing to do with the security-encryption code). Once, there was a wizzkid, who could get a connection with the iliad mac-code through their internetserver, but that was a lot of husstle. What is your experience in hotels and cafe’s?

  7. If it’s just a WEP password it’s indeed not a big deal because you can enter that in the settings. But if you use a connection in a hotel where you only can get access to through a special web page it is impossible to connect. This means that when I am on a business trip I need to look for an open wifi connection to connect to the NRC servers, and that’s quite a hassle. I hope that the iLiad team will come out with a software update for this. Another potential solution would be to download the paper to a laptop (is that actually possible?) and then use a USB stick to get the file to the iLiad.

  8. no. the easiest way (in most countries) would be to go to an internet cafe, ask if they have a spare network cable (and if they run a dhcp server on whatever router they use), and to plug that into the travel hub (logging on to their wireless router would also work, but is probably less likely to happen. anyway, most caf

  9. @foppe I agree that most cafes have access points for people with laptops, but the problem is that the iLiad is not a laptop. There is no browser on the iLiad that you can use to enter a password for example. This makes the iLiad useless in most 5-star hotels, where you have to leave your credit card details in a browser window in order to get internet access.

  10. i’m still saving up for a kindle!! the “whispernet” internet is a playground for hardware hackers and small scale software apps. ego’s aside, voip kindle anyone? it’s the book that you can talk to.