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Kindle and other E-readers


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#21 Christian

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 08:09 AM

That's great news, David. Congratulations! I'll alter the thread title to be more encompassing of e-readers.

#22 CherylR

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 07:01 PM

Cool news David! Congrats! Looking forward to your comparisons.

#23 David Smedberg

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 03:57 PM

So, I've had my Sony Reader PR505 for enough time now to get used to it, and I have to say I like it.

It does not have wireless access, but the only thing that I miss about that is being able to download the morning newspaper plug-free... not a big deal, really.

It is a huge boon for my internship at a publishing company. I receive huge digital files of manuscripts and often would like to carry them with me, but printing them and carrying them unbound or in binders is unwieldy. The Sony Reader (like other e-book readers) lets me take .doc or .pdf files and read them like I would any other book, within minutes! It's great. B)

The battery life is good so long as I don't listen to music. If I do, the battery life goes down dramatically. The software that comes with it is pretty intuitive, and the ability to download free e-books using Overdrive's partnership with DC Library is utterly fantastic. Now my library books get automatically returned, without any danger of late fees!

The next step, I feel, would be for Borders to allow me to browse their shelves of printed materials and then buy e-books/magazines using a port there in the store. I have a Borders a block from my workplace, I would do this All The Time if I could. But this is probably a decade away.

The Sony Reader isn't really gaining any popularity right now, what with the Kindle and the new Nook. But the e-Ink screen is a huge bonus. I would NOT recommend trying to read eBooks on an LCD screen like some people are apparently thinking they will on an iPad. This is a recipe for slow-cooked headache stew in my opinion.

Edited by David Smedberg, 03 March 2010 - 03:58 PM.


#24 David Smedberg

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 06:28 PM

Do you ever use Calibre? I've never tried it, but it claims to allow you to download content from a number of periodicals free. This is good for me, because I love reading Politico but they don't have a Sony Reader version yet (they do have a Kindle version). So I can get a somewhat clunkier version through Calibre until a fully-supported (paying) version becomes available...

#25 du Garbandier

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 09:49 AM

I am thinking of saving up for one of these e-readers. Probably the Kindle but I am looking into the Nook as well. I don't plan on purchasing too many new books, nor do I desire some device that tries to do everything, and, consequently, does nothing. I don't want games or videos or chatting or music or cameras or anything else. Books--just give me books.

Mainly I like the idea of reading the many free or almost-free older books available from Google books, Project Gutenberg, etc., even taking into account the textual problems with some of these versions. The idea of having the Summa Theologica at my fingertips, along with such treasures as Samuel Johnson's Rambler essays, various Chesterton works, and Constance Garnett's translations of Anton Chekhov seems wholly irresistible. I believe the one benefit of the Nook in this regard is the ease with which these Google Books are available directly through Barnes and Noble. With the Kindle I understand you have to exert a little more effort involving file conversion, or something. Nonetheless, at this point I am leaning toward the Kindle.

Edited by du Garbandier, 30 April 2010 - 09:53 AM.


#26 du Garbandier

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 03:59 PM

File conversion: Not necessarily!

Manybooks.net (which is Project Gutenberg material) has its titles formatted for all kinds of e-readers. DL the MOBI or PRC files, and you're good to go. And there are other sites like it...

Kindle can also handle txt files, which is what Project Gutenberg uses as a default.

There are lots more options than there might seem to be - check Mobileread.com's Wiki for some good, fast access to info. on this stuff.

And happy reading, whichever one you end up getting!

Re. Constance Garnett, have you read any of Pevear and Volkhonsky's translations of Chekhov? (And other Russian writers?)


Thanks for the info. The ManyBooks site looks extremely useful. In particular I like how well organized it seems to be. One detriment of Google Books is having to wade through their mass of material without much organization: compare Google's muddled list of Chesterton books with that of Manybooks.

I wonder how many titles Google has in comparison. Google's books can only be downloaded as PDF or ePUB documents, and according to the Mobileread Wiki, the Kindle can handle PDFs but it "requires a manufacturer supplied conversion program." But if I can find most of what I'm interested in via the Manybooks/Gutenberg route, that wouldn't be a problem.

Pevear and V. are in my judgment Chekhov's best translators, but they have only done his short novels and a single collection of the stories (Garnett translated some 200 of the stories). I've read several of P & V's other volumes, including a couple of Dostoevskys and their collection of Gogol, and they are superb. Compared to P & V, Garnett's translations are at times too wooden and dry, but they have their own merits. Not to mention their historical significance, as I believe it was through Garnett that Virginia Woolf, V. S. Pritchett, Henry Green and many others were first exposed to Chekhov's stories.

Edited by du Garbandier, 30 April 2010 - 04:04 PM.


#27 Christopher Lake

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 02:02 AM

I can see the helpfulness of Kindle for older people with diminishing sight and/or dexterity. Honestly, at 36 years old (and for almost 30 of those years, wearing progressively stronger glasses), my own eyesight has deteriorated sufficiently enough (especially in the last ten years... too much time on the internet?) that I myself might need a Kindle fairly soon to continue to read.

Philosophically
though, I agree with the contrarian view of Kindle from Jackson E. Eskew, an Amazon customer/reviewer who has also compiled 87 (!) quite interesting lists of books, CDs, and movies on the site. Jackson's review of Kindle is the fifth one (currently) down the page at this link.
http://www.amazon.co...ostRecentReview

Edited by Christopher Lake, 01 May 2010 - 02:02 AM.


#28 du Garbandier

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 11:03 AM


Philosophically
though, I agree with the contrarian view of Kindle from Jackson E. Eskew, an Amazon customer/reviewer who has also compiled 87 (!) quite interesting lists of books, CDs, and movies on the site. Jackson's review of Kindle is the fifth one (currently) down the page at this link.
http://www.amazon.co...ostRecentReview


Let's say there are two typical readers of similar intellectual ability. One person reads this book on the Kindle, the other reads this in normal codex form. Who has had the more truly "incarnational" engagement with the Logos?

In other words, I believe a person's disposition toward the world of the embodied, enfleshed Word is shaped much more by their preferences in reading or not reading certain texts (i.e. by their intellectual habits) than by the form which those experiences take. After all, the choice between a paper book and an e-book is a choice between two different forms, each of which facilitates different kinds of texts; it isn't a choice between a form and a non-form. The person reading an electronic page is just as physically engaged as any other reader. Is it really the case that e-readers are less incarnational than codices? If so, in what respect?

Edited by du Garbandier, 01 May 2010 - 11:13 AM.


#29 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 11:56 AM

Publish or Perish
Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and save the book business? . . .
Traditionally, publishers have sold books to stores, with the wholesale price for hardcovers set at fifty per cent of the cover price. Authors are paid royalties at a rate of about fifteen per cent of the cover price. A simplified version of a publisher’s costs might run as follows. On a new, twenty-six-dollar hardcover, the publisher typically receives thirteen dollars. Authors are paid royalties at a rate of about fifteen per cent of the cover price; this accounts for $3.90. Perhaps $1.80 goes to the costs of paper, printing, and binding, a dollar to marketing, and $1.70 to distribution. The remaining $4.60 must pay for rent, editors, a sales force, and any write-offs of unearned author advances. Bookstores return about thirty-five per cent of the hardcovers they buy, and publishers write off the cost of producing those books. Profit margins are slim.
Though this situation is less than ideal, it has persisted, more or less unchanged, for decades. E-books called the whole system into question. If there was no physical book, what would determine the price? Most publishers agreed, with some uncertainty, to give authors a royalty of twenty-five per cent, and began a long series of negotiations with Amazon over pricing. For months before Sargent’s visit, the publishers had talked about imposing an “agency model” for e-books. Under such a model, the publisher would be considered the seller, and an online vender like Amazon would act as an “agent,” in exchange for a thirty-per-cent fee. Yet none of the publishers seemed to think that they could act alone, and if they presented a unified demand to Amazon they risked being charged with price-fixing and collusion. . . .
The analogy of the music business goes only so far. What iTunes did was to replace the CD as the basic unit of commerce; rather than being forced to buy an entire album to get the song you really wanted, you could buy just the single track. But no one, with the possible exception of students, will want to buy a single chapter of most books. Publishers’ real concern is that the low price of digital books will destroy bookstores, which are their primary customers. Burdened with rent and electricity and other costs, bricks-and-mortar stores are unlikely to offer prices that can compete with those of online venders. Roxanne Coady, who owns R. J. Julia Booksellers, an independent bookstore in Madison, Connecticut, said, “Bookselling is an eight-inch pie that keeps getting more forks coming into it. For us, the first fork was the chains. The second fork was people reading less. The third fork was Amazon. Now it’s digital downloads.” . . .
Amazon seems to believe that in the digital world it might not need publishers at all. In December, the Simon & Schuster author Stephen Covey sold Amazon the exclusive digital rights to two of his best-sellers, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principle-Centered Leadership.” The books were sold on Amazon by RosettaBooks, and Covey got more than half the net proceeds. One publisher said, “What it did for us was confirm that Amazon sees itself as much as a competitor as a retailer. They have aspirations to be a publisher.”
A close associate of Bezos puts it more starkly: “What Amazon really wanted to do was make the price of e-books so low that people would no longer buy hardcover books. Then the next shoe to drop would be to cut publishers out and go right to authors.” Last year, according to several literary agents, a senior Amazon executive asked for suggestions about whom Amazon might hire as an acquisitions editor. Its Encore program has begun to publish books by self-published authors whose work attracts good reviews on Amazon.com. And in January it offered authors who sold electronic rights directly to Amazon a royalty of seventy per cent, provided they agreed to prices of between $2.99 and $9.99. The offer, one irate publisher said, was meant “to pit authors against publishers.” . . .
New Yorker, April 26

#30 Christopher Lake

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 02:56 PM


Philosophically
though, I agree with the contrarian view of Kindle from Jackson E. Eskew, an Amazon customer/reviewer who has also compiled 87 (!) quite interesting lists of books, CDs, and movies on the site. Jackson's review of Kindle is the fifth one (currently) down the page at this link.
http://www.amazon.co...ostRecentReview


Let's say there are two typical readers of similar intellectual ability. One person reads this book on the Kindle, the other reads this in normal codex form. Who has had the more truly "incarnational" engagement with the Logos?

In other words, I believe a person's disposition toward the world of the embodied, enfleshed Word is shaped much more by their preferences in reading or not reading certain texts (i.e. by their intellectual habits) than by the form which those experiences take. After all, the choice between a paper book and an e-book is a choice between two different forms, each of which facilitates different kinds of texts; it isn't a choice between a form and a non-form. The person reading an electronic page is just as physically engaged as any other reader. Is it really the case that e-readers are less incarnational than codices? If so, in what respect?


Du Garbandier,

I think that you are drawing seemingly "logical" possible conclusions from Jackson's argument that he himself would not draw (and nor would I). Of course, it's better to read Athanasius on a Kindle than it is to read Eckhart Tolle in physical book form! :) Garbage is garbage, and greatness is greatness, apart from the medium in which it comes to us-- but that does not mean that the medium itself is purely a neutral matter.

Again, as I commented earlier here, I might need a Kindle soon myself, due to my eyesight. I am not dead-set against them-- at least not to the point that Jackson might be. :) However, I do think that the increasing evaporation of physical books would not be a positive thing for spirituality and culture, in general, on various levels. In Christianity, matter matters. The physical is good, even to the point of the sacraments themselves, which, I believe, impart true, actual, efficacious grace to those who partake of them. Jackson shares the same view, and I agree with him that the "de-physicalizing" of books (and music products too... sigh!) is one sign of a larger anti-sacramental, anti-Incarnational attitude, not even simply in the culture at large, but within significant sectors of Christianity in America. Obviously, I don't see this development as a positive one. Still though, if I ultimately need to buy a Kindle, physically speaking, I will.

#31 du Garbandier

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 03:43 PM

Du Garbandier,

I think that you are drawing seemingly "logical" possible conclusions from Jackson's argument that he himself would not draw (and nor would I).

Yes, you're right. He really isn't making arguments so much as generally opining and lamenting. There's always a place for that, although in reviews it may be less than helpful, albeit inspiring.

Of course, it's better to read Athanasius on a Kindle than it is to read Eckhart Tolle in physical book form! :) Garbage is garbage, and greatness is greatness, apart from the medium in which it comes to us-- but that does not mean that the medium itself is purely a neutral matter.

Agreed. No medium is neutral, as Neil Postman knew. But that doesn't mean that books and e-books are in opposition to one another. They could just be non-neutral in different ways. This is a point the contrarians need to really scrutinize. E2c has noted the similar look of the Kindle screen to paper. Both the Kindle and the traditional codex are logocentric. In terms of reading experiences, a much greater gap probably exists between codices and audiobooks than between codices and handheld e-books.

Again, as I commented earlier here, I might need a Kindle soon myself, due to my eyesight. I am not dead-set against them-- at least not to the point that Jackson might be. :) However, I do think that the increasing evaporation of physical books would not be a positive thing for spirituality and culture, in general, on various levels. In Christianity, matter matters. The physical is good, even to the point of the sacraments themselves, which, I believe, impart true, actual, efficacious grace to those who partake of them. Jackson shares the same view, and I agree with him that the "de-physicalizing" of books (and music products too... sigh!) is one sign of a larger anti-sacramental, anti-Incarnational attitude, not even simply in the culture at large, but within significant sectors of Christianity in America. Obviously, I don't see this development as a positive one. Still though, if I ultimately need to buy a Kindle, physically speaking, I will.


Well, I concur about the need to reaffirm the goodness of physical creation in light of the many gnosticizing forces at play in our culture, but I'm still unconvinced that e-books are less physical than traditional codices--it's a matter of two marginally different sorts of physical presences. The issue of music is interesting because modern recording technologies permit the severance of music from the physical presence of instruments. Music is no longer dependent on the physical presence of musicians. (Incidentally Julian Johnson touches on these matters in his excellent Who Needs Classical Music?: Cultural Choice and Musical Value.) Similarly, I suppose one could accuse e-books of severing the written word from the spoken word and hence from the speaker's presence--but then so do normal codices.

I say all this as a great lover of traditional books, living as I do with thousands of books sprawling all over the place.

At any rate, thanks for your comments. You might consider raising these issues over at Text Patterns, a blog run by Alan Jacobs, a Christian who studies these matters very astutely.

#32 du Garbandier

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 08:20 AM

Alberto Manguel:


How optimistic are you about the future of the book?

I don't think the book of paper and ink will disappear, as long as we allow for technologies to coexist. The notion that one must replace the other is simply the urge of the new to exist alone on the planet, but it doesn't happen - it didn't happen with photography and painting, it didn't happen with film and theatre, it didn't happen with video and film, and it hasn't happened with electronic technology and the printed page. I was delighted when Bill Gates, a number of years ago, wrote his book about the end of paper and then printed it on paper; I think that says a lot.



#33 Christian

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 11:55 AM

I really enjoyed Michael Gerson's column today singing the praises of the iPad:

I like my Kindle's battery life. I can't type on the iPad's maddening virtual keyboard. But really there is no comparison. The iPad is one of the most elegant, useful, astoundingly cool objects ever produced by the mind of man. Da Vinci would drool. Newton would show an equal and opposite attraction. Edison would ignore the objections of his wife and buy one, preferably the model with 64 gigabytes.

There are, of course, skeptics who regard the iPad merely as an iPhone with pituitary problems. They remind me of a quote attributed to the British editor C.P. Scott: "Television? The word is half Greek, half Latin. No good can come of it." In fact, the combination of the Internet and the iPad has changed our relation to the written word forever. The Information Age is now affordable, portable, intuitively organized and infinitely customizable. All future content, including books and newspapers, will need to assume the shape of this innovation.


Rob Pegoraro also writes in the Post about his month-long trial use of the iPad, and he offers measured praise (no comment about books in this column):

I've had a loaner model from Apple's public relations department at home, and it's been interesting to see how often that iPad winds up being used instead of a laptop. Between a standby battery life measured in weeks and a wakeup time measured in tenths of a second, it's just easier to grab the iPad first -- to check the weather, look up a recipe or pluck some other random factoid off the Web.

In the month or so that I've let an iPad do part of a laptop's work, other issues have emerged. Far more sites use Adobe's Flash technology -- verboten on the iPad and the iPhone -- than I'd expected, even such multimedia-free zones as Intuit's ItsDeductible charitable-donations application. It's not the iPad's designers' fault that some companies don't know how to write Web pages, but it is an iPad user's problem. ...

But if the idea of a Microsoft- dominated market for tablet computers didn't excite everybody in 2002, the prospect of an Apple-owned market in 2010 shouldn't be too attractive either.

In that respect, the second most-important news in tablet computing in recent weeks may be Hewlett-Packard's April 28 agreement to purchase Palm.

Palm's new Pre and Pixi smartphones have had a disappointing reception in the market, but the elegant, touch-based webOS software it unveiled last year could work well in a tablet.


As a slow adapter of new technologies and one who always seems to buy the distant runner-up rather than the market leader (Odyssey instead of Atari; laserdisc instead of VHS), I have a Palm Z22 that I use to synch my work calendar/appointments. That's the only thing I've figured out how to do with the Palm over the few years I've had it, and although I don't view the Calendar very often when I'm out of the office, the function has been invaluable a few times.

So, I've secretly thought that I might take the dive into smartphones by buying a Palm Pre rather than an iPhone. But then the Pre, despite some strong reviews from the tech crowd, never caught on, Palm's stock price put it in danger of bankruptcy, and all seemed lost until HP bought Palm recently. Now maybe I'll end up with a Palm-powered iPad rival ... in a few years, around the time everyone else has moved on to the Next Great Device.

#34 J. Henry Waugh

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 09:44 PM

I am the type of person who feels reflexive scorn for gadgets such as the Kindle.

I was given one as a gift last month, however, and I love it.

I mostly read books checked out from the library, so I worried that my Kindle would rarely be used. I still check out books from the library, but using my Kindle in the last month I've read three books in the public domain that I've always wanted to read but never made the time for, along with another six books that I purchased legally for less than twenty dollars.

For me, reading from a Kindle feels infinitely closer to the feel of reading a book than it does to reading text on a computer, which is its best feature after a long day of staring at a computer screen.

#35 du Garbandier

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 02:35 PM

I've decided to buy the Kindle. I'm looking at Kindle 2 covers and am simply dazzled by this one from Oberon (the image is from the famous Flammarion woodcut):

Posted Image

Their Celtic Hounds cover is quite attractive, too.

#36 du Garbandier

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 11:24 PM

DG, there are two small slots in the spine of the Kindle 2 that are intended to be used to hold it in the amazon-designed cover 9which has hooks to fit the slots). I would be looking to see if any other manufacturers have those hooks as a feature of their covers - last year at this time, nobody did, but maybe things are different now>


You're referring to what seems to be called the Hinge system. Oberon doesn't use the Hinge but many if not most of the other covers I've seen do, often in combination with corner straps. It seems like a very useful system, however one worry is the possibility of the hinge actually cracking the Kindle, though for all I know that may just be a freak happening, or a case of poor handling.

I continue to agonize over this cover decision. Partly this is because I am an agonizer by nature but also there are the risks and inconveniences of buying blind on the internet.

#37 du Garbandier

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 03:29 PM

IKWYM about being an agonizer; so am I.

As for the hinge cracking open the Kindle, that seems a bit freakish - and I know that at this time last year, there were people who were being rough enough on the K2 and the current Amazon.com default cover that they had to rework their directions on how to hook and unhook the hinges and repost them as a memo - in large letters - on the site. (Though really, it's more of a hook and slot system than a hinge.)

I think some people are very careless about how they handle items like the Kindle, MP3 players, etc., and that that probably accounts for some of the situations where there's been damage. I also suspect that there were some defective K2s out there that cracked open.

Either way, I don't think there's anything difficult about how the whole hinge (etc.) hardware setup works, and it seems pretty foolproof to me.


Do you ever use the Kindle without the case? In looking at reviews I noticed a number of people mentioning that they prefer to remove the case when reading.

#38 M. Leary

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 03:38 PM

I continue to agonize over this cover decision. Partly this is because I am an agonizer by nature but also there are the risks and inconveniences of buying blind on the internet.


Not to make this worse on you, but... I used to manage a hand-bookbinding and restoration shop, and we crafted these kinds of custom products out of leather all the time. Unless the shop selling these things has some kind of record sale going on (or a generous tanner), I really wonder how they can afford to sell a leather product of superior quality at that price. Most of the leathers I use cost about that much per .5 square meter, with shipping. That is all before labor.

But the site says they have good leather, so caveat emptor.

#39 du Garbandier

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:16 PM

Not to make this worse on you, but... I used to manage a hand-bookbinding and restoration shop, and we crafted these kinds of custom products out of leather all the time. Unless the shop selling these things has some kind of record sale going on (or a generous tanner), I really wonder how they can afford to sell a leather product of superior quality at that price.


Who knows? The ways of tanners and hide-mongers are beyond me. What I really want is a nice handtooled bullhide tableau vivant of the cast of Waterworld, preferably in Wine. Or a nice portrait of say, Steve Buscemi. Or a revisionist tableau with Steve Buscemi starring in Waterworld. Can you hook me up?

And by my calculations .5 square meters is enough to make...let's see...carry the 4......approximately 397 Kindle covers, or 350 if the Kindles are stuffed with Russian and Victorian novels.

Edited by du Garbandier, 21 May 2010 - 04:39 PM.


#40 du Garbandier

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:30 PM

But I'm buying a Kindle precisely for flaunting purposes! And nothing flaunts like Waterworld in bullhide.