What's good about Ebooks
When I last wibbled about ebooks I did finish by saying that it wasn't all bad news and I would try to write something about the positives. So here's some of them:
- The ebook readers that are available now use technology that is genuinely readable in any light conditions where you can read paper and have an enormous battery life compared to conventional portable gizmos. For example my PRS-350 has an estimated life of two weeks' reading on one charge.
- Even the most basic readers can carry a lot of books. My PRS-350 comes with 1.4GB of free memory and they estimate that you can put about 1,200 books on the device before you run out of space.
- They're cheap: the latest Kindles are £105 with WiFi, £149 with free 3G and WiFi, the PRS-350 can be got for around the £130 mark if you shop around.
- If you are as irritated as I am by DRMed books there are still a lot of books and other publication out there with no DRM waiting for you to read.
So what is there to read? Well, for a start there's out of copyright works; the sort of thing that's been on Project Gutenberg for a very long time, and I see they claim to have over 33,000 ebook titles to download at the moment. They're just one of a large number of people fighting for your attention offering out of copyright works.
Then there's people who are publishing for free for whatever reason. Two examples for you: Tom Reynold's excellent blog about being a London Ambulance Service paramedic was turned into two paperbacks Blood, Sweat and Tea and More Blood, More Sweat and Another Cup of Tea but they're also available for you to download, for free, with his blessing1.
And here's one I prepared earlier: The Story of Milton, or Middleton, Cambridgeshire, From Early Times" by KP Humphries (Electronic Book, 86KB) is an ebook in EPUB format which I've published based on the version of this pamphlet I put online on the village web site recently2.
The third type of publication I'm now reading is essentially web sites. I've mention before some software called Calibre which I strongly recommend if you've got an ebook reader. One of its party tricks is that it can "screen scrape" a web site and turn it into a book. And it can do that to a schedule too. It comes with recipes for a wide variety of sites around the world.
The practical consequence of this for me is that my copy of Calibre collects The Guardian for me from their web site at about 5am and as soon as I plug my PRS-350 into the PC via its USB cable Calibre detects it and pushes that edition onto the device ready for me to read. So I can read the The Guardian wherever I am, without a Net connection. Often it's just the sofa or in bed (which is where I was today as I wasn't well this morning) and yes, I could browse the site using my netbook, but it's a much more pleasant reading experience using the PRS-350: partially that it's lighter and no heat or fan but also that it's much closer to reading newsprint and it's a much more satisfying read.
Anyway, to wrap this one up, here's the 56 publications I've currently got loaded on my PRS-350, which illustrates some of what I've been wibbling on about:
|Alfred Trumble||In Jail with Charles Dickens|
|Arthur Conan Doyle||A Study in Scarlet|
|Arthur Conan Doyle||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
|calibre||The Guardian _ The Observer [Fri, 05 Nov 2010]|
|calibre||The Guardian _ The Observer [Mon, 08 Nov 2010]|
|calibre||The Guardian _ The Observer [Sat, 06 Nov 2010]|
|calibre||The Guardian _ The Observer [Sun, 07 Nov 2010]|
|calibre||The Independent [Fri, 05 Nov 2010]|
|calibre||The Independent [Sat, 06 Nov 2010]|
|Charles K Dillaway||Roman Antiquities, and Ancient Mythology|
|Edward Berens||Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome|
|EF Benson||Miss Mapp|
|EF Benson||Queen Lucia|
|James Boyle||The Public Domain _ Enclosing the Commons of the Mind|
|John Schember||Calibre Quick Start Guide|
|KP Humphries||The Story of Milton, or Middleton, Cambridgeshire, From Early Times|
|PG Wodehouse||A Damsel in Distress|
|PG Wodehouse||A Man of Means|
|PG Wodehouse||A Prefect's Uncle|
|PG Wodehouse||A Wodehouse Miscellany|
|PG Wodehouse||Death at the Excelsior|
|PG Wodehouse||Indiscretions of Archie|
|PG Wodehouse||Jill the Reckless|
|PG Wodehouse||Love Among the Chickens|
|PG Wodehouse||Man With Two Left Feet|
|PG Wodehouse||Mike and Psmith|
|PG Wodehouse||My Man Jeeves|
|PG Wodehouse||Not George Washington|
|PG Wodehouse||Piccadilly Jim|
|PG Wodehouse||Psmith in the City|
|PG Wodehouse||Psmith, Journalist|
|PG Wodehouse||Right Ho, Jeeves|
|PG Wodehouse||Something New|
|PG Wodehouse||Tales of St. Austin's|
|PG Wodehouse||The Adventures of Sally|
|PG Wodehouse||The Clicking of Cuthbert|
|PG Wodehouse||The Coming of Bill|
|PG Wodehouse||The Girl on the Boat|
|PG Wodehouse||The Gold Bat|
|PG Wodehouse||The Head of Kay's|
|PG Wodehouse||The Intrusion of Jimmy|
|PG Wodehouse||The Little Nugget|
|PG Wodehouse||The Little Warrior|
|PG Wodehouse||The Man Upstairs|
|PG Wodehouse||The Politeness of Princes|
|PG Wodehouse||The Pothunter|
|PG Wodehouse||The Prince and Betty|
|PG Wodehouse||The Swoop|
|PG Wodehouse||The White Feather|
|PG Wodehouse||Three Men and a Maid|
|PG Wodehouse||Uneasy Money|
|PG Wodehouse||William Tell Told Again|
|Stieg Larsson||The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo|
|Tom Reynolds||Blood, Sweat & Tea|
|Tom Reynolds||More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea|
- There's a good interview with him explaining why he did this here on YouTube.
- There's a vaguely interesting issue with this particular example as the pamphlet is still in copyright: it was written in 1962 and the author has been dead for less than seventy years so in theory I needed clearance from his estate ...
|Tags: books, Milton, toys||Written 07/11/10|
There is also the rather splendid instapaper.com - which you can make into a bookmarklet and use to collect websites whilst you are browsing but don't have time to read a long article (e.g. at work). It has an option to export what you have collected in EPUB format, and read at your leisure offline. It is very good at fetching just the text of websites.
Good grief, I use Instapaper, have done for ages, and I've never spotted the significance of that feature (I use it as a quick and dirty way of bookmarking things as I have multiple browsers across multiple PCs so there's no point in using the browsers' own bookmarks). Thanks Derek.
It's worth mentioning that Cory Doctorow (craphound.com/) has several of his books available in various formats, and prefaces them with the reason why they are available free like this.
At the risk of blowing a personal trumpet, all the e-books sold by The Pragmatic Programmers (who publish my book) are DRM-free :-)
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