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Kindle and other E-readers


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#141 Andy Whitman

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:15 PM


There is some difference for me, but the difference is skewed in the direction of classic works of literature because they are free on the Kindle. So the Kindle has had the devastating effect of making it easier for me to read the canon of western literature that I always found excuses to avoid or ignore.



Would you chime in with any favorites that you've specifically read for free on Kindle? (Anyone's contributions would be welcome). I must confess that my eye for the wonderful work of Project Gutenberg is bigger than my stomach, as I've yet to tackle the great Russian books I'm sitting on. My favorite Project Gutenberg read so far has been The Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant and re-reading Twain for the first time since high school.

Sure.

Edith Wharton. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Gustave Flaubert. Sinclair Lewis. Thomas Hardy. George Eliot. Anthony Trollope. Kate Chopin. G.K. Chesterton. Henrik Ibsen. Theodore Dreiser. Henry Fielding. Virginia Woolf.

These are all writers whose works I've largely left unexplored until the Kindle. I've read one or two novels from some of the authors listed above. Others I hadn't read at all. My book club is currently reading Crime and Punishment. I had read it years, probably decades, ago. I remembered very little about it, and my paperback copy was long gone, the victim of a move or a loan to a friend or God knows what else. It was free on the Kindle, as are the rest of Dostoyevsky's works.

I realize that there are arguments for and against the Kindle. But look: the canon of western civilization is free. If you have a Kindle, you might as well take advantage of it. I have, and I'm delighted.

#142 NBooth

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 03:29 PM

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#143 NBooth

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 01:15 AM

Cracked: 8 Unexpected Downsides of the Switch to E-Books.

Number 8: You can't hide a gun in an e-book.

#144 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 06:04 PM


- does a printed book do something to our memories that a computer/kindle screen doesn't? It's probable that storytellers within an oral tradition have more powerful memories than storytellers who would hand-write their own works, just as it's probable that more of what you write stays in your brain when you hand-write it than when you type it out on a computer.
- is there personal interaction that is lost when you go from a physical printed book to a screen? I certainly remember pages and places in books because I take the time to underline them, write in the margins, fold corners of the page to find them later, etc. This, however, could possibly be remedied simply by digitizing the ability to, oh say, underline a quote on a page of one's e-book (in fact, I'm pretty sure this ability already exists in some formats). But would that be the same? Possibly.
- does reading from a physical printed object affect the way that you think (as opposed to reading electronic or battery-powered screens)? My instinct is that it does, but I have yet been able to put why into words, so maybe the instinct is wrong.

To underline what I wrote earlier, Jacobs' and Carr's books cover these points to various degrees. I'd encourage you to seek them out. (I know you had earlier planned to read Jacobs.)

Interesting thoughts from Carr:

pg. 90 -
Research has shown that the cognitive act of reading draws not just on our sense of sight but also on our sense of touch. It's tactile as well as visual. "All reading," writes Anne Mangen, a Norwegian literary studies professor, is "multi-sensory." There's "a crucial link" between "the sensory motor experience of the materiality" of a written work and "the cognitive processing of the text content." The shift from paper to screen doesn't just change the way we navigate a piece of writing. It also influences the degree of attention we devote to it and the depth of our immersion in it ...

pgs. 99-100 -
But as a device for reading, the book retains some compelling advantages over the computer. You can take a book to the beach without worrying about sand getting in its works. You can take it to bed without being nervous about it falling on the floor should you nod off. You can spill coffee on it. You can sit on it. You can put it down on a table, open to the page you're reading, and when you pick it up a few days later it will still be exactly as you left it. You never have to be concerned about plugging a book into an outlet or having its battery die.

The experience of reading tends to be better with a book too. Words stamped on a page in black ink are easier to read than words formed of pixels on a backlit screen. You can read a dozen or a hundred printed pages without suffering the eye fatigue that often results from even a brief stretch of online reading. Navigating a book is simpler and, as software programmers say, more intuitive. You can flip through real pages much more quickly and flexibly than you can through virtual pages. And you can write notes in a book's margins or highlight passages that move or inspire you. You can even get a book's author to sign its title page. When you're finished with a book, you can use it to fill an empty space on your bookshelf - or lend it to a friend.


pgs. 101-102
Digital readers have also improved greatly in recent years. The advantages of traditional books are not quite as clear-cut as they used to be. Thanks to high-resolution screens made of materials like Vizplex, a charged-particle film developed by the Massachusetts company E Ink, the clarity of digital text now almost rivals that of printed text. The latest readers don't require blacklighting, allowing them to be used in direct sunlight and reducing eye strain considerably. The functions of the readers have also improved, making it much easier to click through pages, add bookmarks, highlight text, and even scribble marginal notes ... One of the more popular of the new digital readers is Amazon's own Kindle. Introduced with great fanfare in 2007, the gadget incorporates all the latest screen technology and reading functions and includes a full keypad. But it has another feature that greatly increases its attractiveness. The Kindle has a built-in, always available wireless connection to the Internet ... The Kindle's most radical feature, at least when it comes to think about what's in store for books, is its incorporation of links into the text it displays. The Kindle turns the words of books into hypertext. You can click on a word or a phrase and be taken to a related dictionary entry, Wikipedia article, or list of Google search results.

pgs. 102-103 -
The Wall Street Journal's L. Gordon Crovitz has suggested that easy-to-use, networked readers like Kindle "can help return to us our attention spans and extend what makes books great: words and their meaning." That's a sentiment most literary minded folks would be eager to share. But it's wishful thinking. Crovitz has fallen victim to the blindness McLuhan warned against: the inability to see how a change in a medium's form is also a change in its content. "E-books should not just be print books delivered electronically," says a senior vice president of HarperStudio, an imprint of the publishing giant HarperCollins. "We need to take advantage of the medium and create something dynamic to enhance the experience. I want links and behind the scenes extras and narration and videos and conversation." As soon as you inject a book with links and connect it to the Web - as soon as you "extend" and "enhance" it and make it "dynamic" - you change what it is and you change, as well, the experience of reading it. An e-book is no more a book than an online newspaper is a newspaper.

Edith Wharton. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Gustave Flaubert. Sinclair Lewis. Thomas Hardy. George Eliot. Anthony Trollope. Kate Chopin. G.K. Chesterton. Henrik Ibsen. Theodore Dreiser. Henry Fielding. Virginia Woolf.

These are all writers whose works I've largely left unexplored until the Kindle. I've read one or two novels from some of the authors listed above. Others I hadn't read at all. My book club is currently reading Crime and Punishment. I had read it years, probably decades, ago. I remembered very little about it, and my paperback copy was long gone, the victim of a move or a loan to a friend or God knows what else. It was free on the Kindle, as are the rest of Dostoyevsky's works.

pgs. 103-104 -
Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C., recently wrote about her experience using a Kindle to read the Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby ... "Although mildly disorienting at first, I quickly adjusted to the Kindle's screen and mastered the scroll and page-turn buttons. Nevertheless, my eyes were restless and jumped around as they do when I try to read for a sustained time on the computer. Distractions abounded. I looked up Dickens on Wikipedia, then jumped straight down the Internet rabit hole following a link about a Dickens short story, 'Mugby Junction.' Twenty minutes later I still hadn't returned to my reading of Nickleby on the Kindle."

Rosen's struggle sounds almost identical to the one that the historian David Bell went through back in 2005 when he read a new electronic book, The Genesis of Napoleanic Porpaganda, on the Internet. He described his experience in a New Republic article: "A few clicks, and the text dully appears on my computer screen. I start reading, but while the book is well written and informative, I find it remarkably hard to concentrate. I scroll back and forth, search for key words, and interrupt myself even more often than usual to refill my coffee cup, check my e-mail, check the news, rearrange files in my desk drawer. Eventually I get through the book and am glad to have done so. But a week later I find it remarkably hard to remember what I have read."

When a printed book - whether a recently published scholarly history or a two-hundred-year-old Victorian novel - is transferred to an electronic device connected to the Internet, it turns into something very like a Web site. Its words become wrapped in all the distractions of the networked computer. Its links and other digital enhancements propel the reader hither and yon. It loses what the late John Updike called its "edges" and dissolves into the vast, roiling waters of the Net. The linearity of the printed book is shattered, along with the calm attentiveness it encourages in the reader. The high-tech features of devices like the Kindle and Apple's new iPad may make it more likely that we'll read e-books, but the way we read them will be very different from the way we read printed editions.


#145 opus

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 06:18 PM

Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C., recently wrote about her experience using a Kindle to read the Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby ... "Although mildly disorienting at first, I quickly adjusted to the Kindle's screen and mastered the scroll and page-turn buttons. Nevertheless, my eyes were restless and jumped around as they do when I try to read for a sustained time on the computer. Distractions abounded. I looked up Dickens on Wikipedia, then jumped straight down the Internet rabit hole following a link about a Dickens short story, 'Mugby Junction.' Twenty minutes later I still hadn't returned to my reading of Nickleby on the Kindle."

This is precisely why I asked for the simplest, most stripped down Kindle available. I wanted as few distractions as possible. And thankfully, this is where the Kindle's interface -- which can be a real pain in the butt to navigate -- actually helps. I could search Wikipedia if I wanted to, but it's such a pain to do so that I don't want to.

#146 Andy Whitman

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 06:33 PM

Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C., recently wrote about her experience using a Kindle to read the Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby ... "Although mildly disorienting at first, I quickly adjusted to the Kindle's screen and mastered the scroll and page-turn buttons. Nevertheless, my eyes were restless and jumped around as they do when I try to read for a sustained time on the computer. Distractions abounded. I looked up Dickens on Wikipedia, then jumped straight down the Internet rabit hole following a link about a Dickens short story, 'Mugby Junction.' Twenty minutes later I still hadn't returned to my reading of Nickleby on the Kindle."

This is precisely why I asked for the simplest, most stripped down Kindle available. I wanted as few distractions as possible. And thankfully, this is where the Kindle's interface -- which can be a real pain in the butt to navigate -- actually helps. I could search Wikipedia if I wanted to, but it's such a pain to do so that I don't want to.

Indeed, I don't know what Rosen is talking about. Perhaps she has a different version of the Kindle than I do. Mine doesn't have links. It has only text, and because the screen isn't backlit, that text doesn't look significantly from black print on a white page. It doesn't look like a computer screen. It looks like a book. Indeed, this is why I decided to purchase a Kindle vs. an iPad, which is backlit, and looks like a computer screen. And frankly, because the experience is so linear (it is, for example, much more difficult to flip back and forth to maps, indexes, etc.), I tend to stay more focused with the Kindle than I do with a hardcopy book.

I also don't know why anyone would use the Kindle's Internet capabilities, other than to download books. The browsing experience is frustrating, to say the least. If you want to browse the Internet, use a computer. The Kindle really isn't meant for that.

#147 Christian

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:58 PM

More on the ereader vs. tablet debate:

E-Books on Tablets Fight Digital Distractions

People who read e-books on tablets like the iPad are realizing that while a book in print or on a black-and-white Kindle is straightforward and immersive, a tablet offers a menu of distractions that can fragment the reading experience, or stop it in its tracks. ...

For book publishers, who have already seen many consumers convert from print books to e-readers, the rise of tablets poses a potential danger: that book buyers may switch to tablets and then discover that they just aren’t very amenable to reading.

Will those readers gradually drift away from books, letting movies or the Internet occupy their leisure time instead? ...

Many publishers believe that the market for both print books and black-and-white e-readers is not going away, despite the pull of tablets.

Voracious book buyers were the first people to latch onto e-readers, prizing them for their convenience, portability and features like text zooming that made it easier for older people to read. Now those e-readers are lighter, sleeker and cost less than $100 — even a cheap tablet is more than double the cost — so tech-shy consumers who want a device just for reading books and not much else have little incentive to upgrade.

As long as e-readers remain significantly less expensive than tablets, there may be a market for them for a long time.


#148 TIFERET

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:50 AM

From experience, I believe that the Kindle increases the volume of reading I do simply due to convenience. Anything you desire is right at your fingertips!

#149 Scholar's Parrot

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:46 PM

More on the ereader vs. tablet debate:

E-Books on Tablets Fight Digital Distractions


This is one of the main reasons I just ordered a Nook. That and the fact that I live on a ranch in the middle of the Rockies and I want to take it hiking with me.

#150 opus

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:37 PM

Khoi Vinh has found one way that paper books trump electronic books:

One thing I had completely forgotten about is how communal popular books can be. A few people have spotted “A Game of Thrones” in my pocket or saw me reading it on the subway and then started friendly conversations with me about it, something that never would have happened if I were reading it on my phone, where every book is effectively invisible to everyone but me. I remember reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs on my iPhone just after it came out, at a time when lots and lots of people were reading it too, but I realize now that I was reading it in a kind of isolation, where people around me were unaware of the concurrency.

[...]

It would be nice if there was a way to replicate that part of the reading experience electronically too, that kind of real world happenstance that doesn’t require signing up or signing in to anything, just carrying around whatever book you’re reading and being open enough in your body language to welcome small talk from perfect strangers. It just goes to show you that the electronic reading experience has a long way to go, and all the time and effort we’ve been putting into crafting perfect layouts might be better used fleshing out some of the things that really make reading a rewarding experience.



#151 Christian

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 02:53 PM

Here's a fantastic article on the new GlowLight Nook that reminds us of the evolving pros and cons of standalone e-readers and tablets. http://www.nytimes.c....html?ref=books

#152 BethR

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 05:13 PM

Khoi Vinh has found one way that paper books trump electronic books:


One thing I had completely forgotten about is how communal popular books can be. A few people have spotted “A Game of Thrones” in my pocket or saw me reading it on the subway and then started friendly conversations with me about it, something that never would have happened if I were reading it on my phone, where every book is effectively invisible to everyone but me. I remember reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs on my iPhone just after it came out, at a time when lots and lots of people were reading it too, but I realize now that I was reading it in a kind of isolation, where people around me were unaware of the concurrency.

[...]

It would be nice if there was a way to replicate that part of the reading experience electronically too, that kind of real world happenstance that doesn’t require signing up or signing in to anything, just carrying around whatever book you’re reading and being open enough in your body language to welcome small talk from perfect strangers. It just goes to show you that the electronic reading experience has a long way to go, and all the time and effort we’ve been putting into crafting perfect layouts might be better used fleshing out some of the things that really make reading a rewarding experience.

This is generally true, and mostly I don't care much. But the other day I was reading on my iPad, which props up nicely on a table, & an inquisitive server in Chic-Fil-A asked me what I was reading. He said he usually saw people reading on Kindles, not iPads. I told him the title (a YA steampunk novel) and we chatted briefly about steampunk, which was nice.

As it happens, I am reading A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice & Fire 4) in print, because a friend has lent the books to me and because I don't really care to buy them. They're good, but not "I have to own them" good.

#153 M. Leary

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:06 PM

After many issues with two different Kindle versions, I have given up on Amazon products and just bought a Google Nexus 7. There is a Kindle app that will allow me to buy Amazon e-books, but I will have better tech with which to access it.

Edited by M. Leary, 09 August 2012 - 02:06 PM.


#154 Christian

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:26 PM

After many issues with two different Kindle versions, I have given up on Amazon products and just bought a Google Nexus 7. There is a Kindle app that will allow me to buy Amazon e-books, but I will have better tech with which to access it.


Interesting. Why didn't you go with the Nook? Just curious, as I continue to lean toward the Nook when/if I ever buy an ereader.

#155 M. Leary

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:31 PM

In addition to its ereader functionality, the Nexus 7 is a very portable and relatively powerful tablet device.

#156 Doug C

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 05:55 PM

I'm tempted to do the same, but I'm waiting to hear about Amazon's imminent Kindle Fire upgrades and Apple's likely sub-$300 iPad-mini (rumored for mid-September). Though I really don't want to get locked into the Apple world again.

#157 Christian

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 07:39 PM

Ah, you wanted a tablet, not just an ereader.

Speaking of the Kindle app, it used to open on my laptop. I haven't used it in months, but when I downloaded a new book and tried to open the app, it would spin for a few seconds like it was about to open, then not open. I'm too green with the app to know that that means. It used to work. Do I need to download an update? Probably.

Edited by Christian, 09 August 2012 - 07:42 PM.


#158 M. Leary

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:59 AM

I'm tempted to do the same, but I'm waiting to hear about Amazon's imminent Kindle Fire upgrades and Apple's likely sub-$300 iPad-mini (rumored for mid-September). Though I really don't want to get locked into the Apple world again.


I am excited about finally having a non-Apple product that will let me hook up to the cloud of resources I access daily. Since I can access everything Amazon via the Nexus 7 anyway, the Fire wasn't making sense for me. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc... all reportedly work well on the Nexus 7 - though apparently deep blacks don't resolve well on the screen.

Speaking of the Kindle app, it used to open on my laptop. I haven't used it in months, but when I downloaded a new book and tried to open the app, it would spin for a few seconds like it was about to open, then not open. I'm too green with the app to know that that means. It used to work. Do I need to download an update? Probably.


I also have a lot of trouble with this app. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to appear.

#159 M. Leary

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 04:12 AM

I'm tempted to do the same, but I'm waiting to hear about Amazon's imminent Kindle Fire upgrades and Apple's likely sub-$300 iPad-mini (rumored for mid-September). Though I really don't want to get locked into the Apple world again.


I am pretty stunned by the Nexus 7 given the price. I only got the 8 gig version, but have 5 gigs of memory left after downloading all the apps I need. I could easily fit 20 books and a film or two with the space left. But given its synching capability, it does nifty things like frequently connecting with my gmail and greader accounts so that I can read everything offline as well. Toss in Instapaper, Evernote, and a few newspaper and/or magazine subscriptions and this little device is very handy. The GPS chip is slick as well.

In terms of productivity, the device works well with Google Drive and finally makes Google Calendar useful. I can also purchase a version of Office, but am not sure how easy it is going to be to type anything very lengthy.

#160 Doug C

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 11:27 AM

Cool, I didn't realize it had GPS. There's no doubt that it's better than the year-old Kindle, my question is how will it compare to the upcoming Kindles. I have no brand loyalty to Amazon, and will gladly switch to the Nexus if they don't make the cut!

I heard the Nexus, surprisingly, had "issues" with Google Play--is that still true?

Edited by Doug C, 20 August 2012 - 11:27 AM.