03 February 2012


In this day and age, I still prefer physical books, mostly because the public libraries still carry them and that they are less prone to damages.  They also do not require much else beside the strength to carry them and a pair of good eyes to read them.  I do not totally shun ebooks and such, especially when they are free.  Books, movies, and such have copyrights that expire after so many years.  I have heard of Project Gutenberg but somehow was not interested in reading classic books on the computer.  When I am at the computer, there are so many things to do and reading is the last thing I would consider doing.  But one day on the iPad there was a sale of the aptly-named app called Classic and I bought it.  Right within the app, classic books are downloaded for you, available on the iPad and to be read whenever you have the time and the device itself.  It did get me started with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne but like the computer, there are too many things to do with the iPad when in possession of it.  It also does not help that I share the device with my son and my wife.  I fear being robbed of the iPad on the subway so bringing it for the commute is out of the question.

Thanks to my recent, belated adoption of the smartphone (just some Android thingy instead of an iPhone, but it does its many jobs), I have given ebook-reading another go.  The phone came with many apps, one of which is Books 1.4.5.  The app can fetch out-of-copyright books (read: free) as well as those whose copyright are still in force and thus carry a price.  Being the frugal person that I am, I only downloaded some classic books, like Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Lately, reading Expectations is how I sometimes while away the time.  But wait, isn't a smartphone much like a computer in that you can do much with it and thus have no desire to read while using it?  Yes and no.  Like the typical smartphone, my phone's keyboard is a pain to use.  Sure I have been using the phone lately to write draft versions of blog entries but it is an unpleasant experience that I try to avoid.  Also, thanks my limited (read: 200 MB/month) data plan, I consciously avoid using the phone to access the Internet, except for the hourly or so checking of email and Facebook.  The phone can play music and such but there are times I want to use it without having to untangle the headphone.  So reading is actually a preferred use of the smartphone albeit the tiny screen is not that great for long period of time.

On the audiobook front, I rely solely on LibriVox.org, which is somewhat like Audible.com and other audiobook services/sellers, but the books on LibriVox are classic that are freely distributable.  I somewhat randomly picked The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  The files I chose are in MP3 format and the sound player has no intelligence to bookmark my listening progress.  The story itself sometimes has entire chapter devoted to religion or philosophy, which I find boring, so I have been plodding along slowly and only up to Book 8 Chapter 8.  To make things worse, the few characters in the book are often referred to by different names, which I find confusing.  Ugh.  I should just delete the files and move on to something else but I hate to leave a book not completely read.  Maybe Dostoyevsky wrote a sequel called The Brothers Kalashnikov and it has more actions and no preaching.

Brooklyn Public Library and such has downloadable media for borrowing.  My last brush with the service was a few years ago, involving movies and the use of OverDrive software.  It was a major hassle, what with no player for the Mac and some other technical issues.  Things may be simpler with ebooks and such so I think I will give it a shot.  Eventually I will run out of classic books to read/listen so borrowing the latest best sellers would be a sensible next-step.

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