After several weeks on the road I think it’s time to post about how to keep up with reading while traveling. As I posted previously I received a Kindle for a retirement gift. Jean then bought a Kindle for herself. We discovered the world of free e-books. I have downloaded almost 50 free books. Any book that was published more than 75 years ago is free. I also have purchased a few books.
The Kindle experience is close to that of reading a book. I get a little disoriented by having only one page in front of me instead of two, which means you turn the page more often than with paper. The readability of the screen is excellent and doesn’t seem to create any more difficulty than paper. It does require light. (Just like a book!)
The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to carry so many books while traveling. I have completed 7 books since mid-November. I’m currently in the middle of two books. I can’t imagine carrying all of those books in the car, trailer, or my backpack.
I don’t have a comparison with other e-readers, but I will say that this is the wave of the future. It makes reading much more portable and accessible than paper books.
Some favorites from my recent reading:
Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres – a wonderful novel that covers the story of Turkey in the early 20th century. It lays an understanding of present day conflicts. The characters jump off the page and the narrative rivets your interest.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver – she has done it again. Each book seems to get better. This novel follows the life story of a man born to a Mexican mother and US citizen father in the early to mid 1900’s. His life involves much of Mexican-American relations, marxism, art, racism, McCarthism, and other social ills that continue to plague us today. Kingsolver uses her character and his biography to make us think about important issues while entertaining us as usual. I couldn’t put it down (or in the case of the Kindle, turn it off).
One last note, I have been disappointed that purchasing books for the Kindle does not save much money over the paper price. This is not the method of choice if your objective is to save money. For that use the public library. It’s not a bad idea to support our libraries.
I’ve been reading ebooks for about a decade. First on the Palm. I now have 5 reader apps loaded on my iPod Touch and iPad. I recently found that the King County Library finally had an app for the i-devices and I can go back to borrowing ebooks. I did that for many years on the Palm. KCLS also has ebooks in pdf and other formats that perhaps the Kindle could use.
iPad gives one the experience of the 2-page book spread. It is larger and heavier than the Kindle but is also nearly a full computer! I recently learned how to attach any keyboard to it.
Are you using Gutenberg for your free e-books? I’ve just decided to start reading Sherlock Holmes from Gutenberg.
I attended a panel at a Sci Fi Con about e-publishing. The panelists, all publishers or writers, said that most of the cost of putting out a book is NOT the actual paper on which it is printed. Thus the fact that e-books are disappointingly not much cheaper than physical paperbacks. Still, they do save trees and are, as you wrote, much easier to carry! I like that even in the grocery store line, I can pull out my iPod Touch and read without having to lug a book in my purse.
I get my free books on Amazon Kindle Classics (all those books I should have read in high school and college), archive.org, openlibrary.org, and Project Guttenburg at guttenburg.org. Each has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of the title offered and the format in which they come. It’s fun just to browse through their catalogs.