Sunday, 27 March 2011

E Books

Over the past few days I've been looking at various means of expanding my library without choking up the house with bookshelves. Enamoured as I am with the sheer pleasure of handling words on good old low tech paper, I've got to thinking that my addiction for the printed word might need some modification. Whilst a good book is like a solid single malt, a good meal or a fine wine, there is something to be said for more workaday reading (Classed in my eyes like a reasonable plonk, a solid bacon butty, or a Jamesons) reduced in its physical bookshelf size.

My reading rate has been clocked around the 1200 Words per minute rate on average, although my typing remains at a lowly 15 words per minute max, despite all efforts to teach myself touch typing. This means I read. A lot. Always have done, from pulp Sci-Fi to Camus, Kafka and Voltaire and all stations in between. Including technical manuals. My parents were always critical of this need to read, but the more I got scolded, the more I wanted to curl up with whatever I happen to be reading in a cosy little corner. As a child I used to read underneath the blankets with a torch, hiding in the back seat of the car in the garage, while walking the dog, in bed, wherever. To me, part of heaven is an entire library all to myself with no chucking out time.

Ergo, one of the things I've been considering is a E-reader like a Kindle or similar for general leisure time reading. There's something called a Kobo which I found interesting, and a whole bunch of other E-readers from the petite and basic to Netbook size, many of them with their own web browsers built in. The only real issue is catalogue and flexibility. The last thing I want is a 'content incompatible' type warning when loading a pdf or similar from outside the e-readers host catalogue. If Barnes and Noble have what I want, but Amazon don't, I want to be able to read content from multiple suppliers. As an aside, I find all these 'locked down' formats a big turn off, I mean what's the point of buying something you can't port across to another media for your own private use? Whoever comes up with the closest thing to a multi-format reader may find a ready market in me. Expandable content is also a must, so I can dump stuff I'm really not interested in onto an SD card or via a Mini USB link to make room for others.

Thinking aloud, the text to speech thing I'm not interested in. I can read, so why the hell do I want anyone else to do it for me? Audio books are only for in the car on long road trips, which I'm not doing at the moment. Don't listen to Radio in the car, and have my own music (Mainly prog rock to classical) on a 4Gb data key. This is probably why the latest pop thing (Whatever recycled pap that currently is) kind of passes me by.

Replaceable batteries are also a plus, as the last thing I want is my workaday reading list rendered inaccessible because the e-reader battery has gone down quicker than a cheap hooker on payday, forcing repurchase of a whole new e reader (and catalogue of text). Electronics fail for various reasons, and catch you out even with the best possible backup and restore policies. Something which runs off a replaceable cell phone battery might be a good idea. A capacity of 1100mA sounds more than sufficient. If one can adequately power an ageing Nokia 6310i cell phone after nine years, then maybe I should be looking for one with that kind of option.

Despite my initial resistance to the idea, a quick arithmetical exercise quickly persuades me that an e-reader may be an economical proposition. Book shelves cost to build and fill, never mind the actual cost of the book itself. Say if I want to buy three months reading, say around twenty or so volumes, I need a new half bookcase a year. That's not including all the technical magazines and periodicals I like to browse for various snippets. Cost can ramp up into well over two hundred bucks a quarter just to feed my general reading addiction. That's even with bi-weekly visits to the library for one off reads. A couple of hundred for an e-reader followed by 3-5 bucks per download soon drops the average price of my word fix.

Although there's still a good deal of information sifting to be done based on portability, durability and sheer basic functionality, I found this list a good basic guide.

1 comment:

delcatto said...

Thanks for the link Bill.
I've been considering a kindle because I also read a lot & shelf space here is fast disappearing. So being able to compare what's on offer, especially compatibility is good.
As a child my refuge from an unpleasant home life was the local library and I frequently haunted the place reading whatever I could lay my hands on. Hence my love of books and each book was the doorway to other worlds and universes.

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