Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kindle Mania

I've had a little time to fiddle around with my new Kindle now, and I'm just amazed. I can tell I'm just barely scratching the surface, but what I've run across so far is mind boggling.

First of all, I've been running across source after source of downloadable ebooks for free. More books than you can shake a stick at. I don't see why I should ever again pay a penny for a book that's in the public domain, unless my heart is set on owning a hard copy. Really, just about anything you've ever heard of, and much that is obscure and unheard of, is out there. Just in these past few days, I've downloaded for free all of the Fairy Books of Andrew Lang... a number of books by Jack London, including Tales of the Fish Patrol (new to me) and The Star Rover (35 years ago my dad got me interested in this book, and I read a copy I found in the archive-stacks of a university library; never dreamed of finding it again since). Wow, and this is just after a few days of cursory search...

Second, I'm just beginning to glimpse the technical side of all this. Found free software called Calibre, with which I've been editing the metadata on some of my ebooks, little items like author or title which someone along the way couldn't be bothered to get right.

Third, there's a lot of dross out there, and some of it (even if it's for free, so that no one stands to profit) misrepresents itself, as if people think they can score bonus points if only they can trick you into downloading their faulty edition. Lewis Carroll's two Alice books, with the illustrations by John Tenniel-- prime example of a work where both text and illustrations have long been in the public domain, but do you know how many ebook editions I downloaded before I found one that actually contained both text and original illustrations? Text-only editions that falsely claimed to include pictures; "Complete" editions that contained only a few of the pictures; "illustrated" editions that used someone else's drawings in place of Tenniel's. At long last I found what I was looking for, but only after several false starts.

Finally, yes, I have bought a newly published book from Amazon's Kindle store. The kind of book I'll probably read once, may want to refer back to it again some day, but why take up bookshelf space with a hard copy? So I got it, downloaded in seconds, for $15 instead of $25.

At first I was a bit dubious about this device. But after a few days, well, color my mind suitably boggled.

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