Or, rather, a member of my family sold their soul and then passed the ill-begotten fruits to me. That’s right, I’m one belated Christmas gift heavier (though not very much, only a hundred or so grams), and it’s a Kindle. While I suspect the much pricier Sony readers may have suited me better, in the end they’re all being sold in an attempt to lock readers into proprietary formats; since I’m not planning on paying for an ebook that comes with copy protection from either Angus and Robertson or Amazon, I’ll be gleeful with what I have.
What I am doing with my Kindle is highly fun and exciting. I have now:
- Converted fan-translated novels, fanfiction, and various file formats into .mobi files using calibre.
- Had fun with Project Gutenberg downloading bibliophilic and archaeological themed public domain books, as well as staples like Dickens. I suspect I will end up reading more than I can possibly review.
- Used the text-to-speech function to amuse myself. Highlights of hilarity include sex scenes, non-English proper nouns, huge pauses after commas (but not between paragraphs or scenes), and the awkward pronunciation of many many words.
- Become friendly and intimate with Baen’s reader-friendly ebook download library.
- Felt disgusted that to use some basic functions like categorising my document library, I must apparently register
a fake namemy personal details with Amazon.
- Read things.
What I suspect I’ll actually love most of all, depending on how tables and figures end up, is my newfound potential to convert .pdfs of journal articles to .mobi files for easy reading and annotation (I can always keep a copy of the .pdf as well, to view tables of data). One of my pet peeves is alt-tabbing between my word processor and various open articles during study, and fingers crossed it will make the composition and editing of academic writing all the easier.
What’s most interesting, coming into the ebook device owning world and reading up a bit on commercial ebook sales, is the clashing and confusion over geographical tax and copyright laws, and consumer attitudes. Customers want cheap books, not tax elevated books. Role-playing companies selling short modules and updated for $0.99 US are frustrated by the $2 markup in some international zones, when they’ll sell it to everyone for the same price from their website. It’s a fascinating mess in the grey area between the shared culture and spaces online and the geographically specific retail and consumer laws that govern pricing and access. I fully intend to post again soon either with links to some of the core issues, or to blogs that cover them and have links to spare themselves.
I’ve posted in the past about ebook reading hardware and some of the associated changes in bookselling: