Journal Entry


14 Mar 2006 ... eBooks

I read a news article the other day that said digital book reading devices are all set to take off... Digital Books Start A New Chapter, "Lighter devices, better displays, and the iPod craze could make them best-sellers"

Yeah, whatever. They've been saying for years that ebooks are the wave of the future, but ebooks have never really been all that popular. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is the cost: ebooks cost exactly the same as real books... And real books come out as 20 or 30$ hardbacks in the beginning, and I am not going to pay 30$ for an ebook!

And since ebooks cost the same as dead-tree books, that gives you absolutely no incentive to buy a device that costs 200 or 600$ to read your stupidly expensive ebooks! Only geeks like me would do this... and geeks like me want more than just a reader, so of course we aren't going to buy the proprietary devices that will only read books that we buy from their dumb proprietary website.

I bought my Palm Tungsten T2 in August 2003, primarily for reading ebooks. Altogether it cost me a bit over 500$, including an expansion card, some games, a pack of screen protectors, and a carrying case. It was a good investment, because I use it everyday to read. I do use the other functions as well, and my little handheld has definitely become indispensible.

But I don't buy ebooks to read on it. I belong to FictionWise, and have downloaded a couple of their free books and stories. I have bought a couple of digital books from Amazon, unfortunately the PDF reader for the Palm is lame and doesn't convert books very well, or at all in many cases.

Nope, I get all my ebooks from Project Gutenberg, for free. All the books are copyright free, and thus more than 80 years old... but I've downloaded over 300 books and I'm in no danger of running out of interesting reading material!

I do have to do a little bit of tweaking to get the text files that Gutenberg provides, looking good in my Palm Reader. But, I'm a geek, and I love to play with codes, so that is just a perk.

So, here are a couple of books that I've discovered and really enjoyed!

  • Not That It Matters by A.A. Milne
    You won't find any Winnie the Pooh on Gutenberg, since Disney has got a tight hold on those copyrights, but there are several plays to be had for free, and this collection of short essays. Delightful.
  • The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac by Eugene Field
    This book is gently amusing, and I very much enjoyed reading it.
  • Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
    It's shiney but it's too scared to live. Or something like that: this was one of the first ebooks I read, before I even bought my Palm, and I don't really remember what the book is about. I do remember it's very artsy, and about rich people and the main character was rather apathetic. Guess I'll have to read it again, I do remember I liked it.

Those are the literary books that are my favorite. Now for some animal books! I've actually got a pretty long list of animal books I've read from Gutenberg, unfortunately so many of them show terrible and wanton cruelty. And a lot of ignorance, too.

But there are a few animal books that are good to read. Here are my favorites, many include the illustrations if you download the HTML version.

  • Barks and Purrs by Colette
    Brilliant animal fiction about companion animals.
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
    Animal fiction about small wild animals living near a river.
  • Thornton Burgess
    All of his books are absolutely wonderful. They are children's stories, very happy reading.
  • Beatrix Potter
    I discovered this author the other week, and fell in love with her artwork. The watercolour paintings are so lovely!

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