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In Praise of Bound Books


Book ShelfRight now I’m reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. It is a memoir of his mother’s life after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer that has spread. This is a terminal diagnosis. There are lots of thoughts to ponder in this book. This one tickles me and is a good definition:

“One of the many things I love about bound books is their sheer physicality. Electronic books are out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence. Sure, sometimes they’ll elude you by hiding in improbably places: in a box full of old picture frames, say, or in the laundry basket, wrapped in a sweatshirt. But at other times they’ll confront you, and you’ll literally stumble over some tomes you hadn’t thought about in weeks or years. I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.”

Book I often talk about the feel of holding a print book. An electronic book just isn’t the same. But that electronic book weighs less in the suitcase than five to ten print books. Plus I can get an electronic book any time I’m ready to start it, even if I purchase it or borrow it from the library at midnight. That print book, though, sits in that pile waiting for me, shows off its cover when I’m reaching for a different one in Mt. Bookpile, or has Nora Roberts’ or Jim Butcher’s or Connie Willis’  signature in it, or sits on the shelf showing off a complete series waiting for me to read it again (Are Amelia Peabody or James Herriot calling my name? When I have time…).

Schwalbe captured the feelings quite well.



Did you know there’s a World eBook Fair going on now? It lasts until August 4th. I know some of my readers have Kindles or Nooks. You may want to check this out. They claim there is free access to 6.5 billion (yes, billion) books through Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive for the next month. I think we’ll have to check it out.

World eBook Fair Announcement

For you who are interested, I’ve started the conversion of my web site. It’s going to take a few (many?) months to get it all straightened out the way I want, but I’m plugging away at it.

My New Toy


Last week Woot had this enTourage Pocket eDGe on sale. It’s an ereader on one side and a computer tablet on the other running Android. It came yesterday. I started playing w it today.

My first problem is it’s running Android v. 1.6 which is out of date for most Android apps, including the Nook app and the Google reader app. I already have a question in to support about this because their documentation only mentions that they’re working on an upgrade – dated February 2010.

For now I’m excited w it. It will be great for travel once it’s set up. It’s the smaller 7″version which is easier to carry. My brother pointed out that it’s heavier than my Nook as well as having a smaller screen. I think that will be ok. I’m looking forward to experimenting w the reader.

I’ll keep you posted.

Ebook Disguises


One of the complaints about reading an ebook is the different tactile experience. You can’t feel the pages or smell the paper or appreciate the weight or even quickly glance and see how far through a book you are.

When Barnes and Noble offered The Golden Age of Science Fiction: An Anthology of 50 Short Stories for $2, I jumped on it. I love science fiction. This anthology includes stories from authors 100 years ago (Jules Verne and HG Wells) through those still writing (Ben Bova). It was not on my By the End of 2010 Challenge, but it was close after.

I started it last week in the midst of chaos, thinking it would be an easy read. It is, but it’s deceptive. It has over 800 pages. The first story is not a short story but a novella that is around 175 pages (about 75 pages too long IMO after I finished it). I’m thoroughly enjoying the stories.

I have to chuckle when I’m reading some of the older ones (50’s and 60’s especially). These men are traveling through space and have whatever difficulties that they have to fix. More than one of them have whipped out their trusty slide rules to figure the higher math. One even had computers mentioned for navigation but the engineer still used his slide rule. Do people in the higher maths learn how to use a slide rule any more (in case of power failure)? Or is that now a museum piece?

Returning to the disguise. If I had the book in hardcopy, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up yet. With Mt. Bookpile so high, I tend to choose books w under 450 pages. But who can tell the size of an ebook until after you’ve opened it? You certainly can’t just by looking at the title on your ereader. The up side there? The ereader isn’t nearly as heavy as the book would be.

Joining the Modern Age


In November I’ll be taking a two week vacation to Italy and Greece. I have traveled that far before with books in my suitcases. I will do it again.

But books weigh down a suitcase. I know I’ll pick up a few when I’m traveling. I’d like to start with less weight. The solution is obvious with our modern technology.

Yesterday I bought a Nook, the Barnes and Noble e-reader. I thought I would buy a Kindle from Amazon. The new model was preordered for me. Then I learned that the Kindle doesn’t handle Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that is set up through the Adobe e-reader.

I can borrow ebooks through my library. They are encoded with the DRM. I couldn’t use them on a Kindle. I canceled my preordered Kindle, went to the local Barnes and Noble, and came home with my new Nook e-reader. They didn’t have the book-style cover I wanted in stock (in any of my local B&N stores) so I had to order it online. I won’t do much with my new toy until the cover comes in.

Last night I connected up with Overdrive audio and ebooks through my library’s web site. I was able to borrow and download two books for my new reader.

I have now joined the ebook trend…