I’ve been hankering for a Kindle ever since they arrived, but I never could justify the expense. Not that they are that expensive – truth is I got into one of those loops… I have access to a good library… etc. etc. etc. The result was no Kindle.
Until I discovered an obscure Buddhist text, available free in .pdf – all 500 pages of it!
Exactly the excuse I needed!
So I began to haunt eBay. I’ve had good luck with hardware and software and even a great jacket with eBay and I wanted a bargain.
I wanted a Kindle with the E Ink display. I don’t do well with glare, and my iPad (which, btw, I paid full price for – I never have said I’m consistent) glares at me when I try to use it to read in bed. Besides, it feels too heavy and the wrong size.
Somewhere along the way I discovered I’d be able to clip quotes and email them to folks… so I decided I wanted a keyboard – hard to imagine me without a keyboard anywhere, come to think of it. So that’s what I looked for.
It really didn’t take long – not quite a week and I put in a bid on one – about half-price and I won! A few days later the machine arrives and it’s dirt simple to use. And it’s light and it doesn’t glare at me in bed.
Amazon, we’ve got a problem
I figured out how to get the obscure Buddhist text on my Kindle and realized something – I don’t want to read obscure Buddhist texts in bed, at least not very often. I want junk mysteries and suspense novels. The kind I can get almost by the pound at the library, for free.
I’m likely to read several of these a week and even at reduced prices, and many are cost more than $10-12 bucks, I realized I had created a way to overspend like mad.
It wasn’t long before I ran into one of LifeHacker’s articles on free ebooks (while reading my iPad in the living room). The post called OneHundredFreeEbooks Serves Up Free Kindle Ebooks Every Hour caught my attention.
It’s perfect for me. I bring it up two or three times a week from my iPad, choose three or four titles and download them to my Kindle. It’s magic. In some ways it’s even better than the library because I don’t have to go anywhere.
It took only a couple of days to become totally willing to delete a book as soon as it begins to bore me.
Every now and again one of my favorite authors shows up.
I’m not sure what the advantage to the author and publishers are except maybe word of mouth, but it sure works for me.
Libraries are in trouble
I also explored my local library which says they offer ebooks. They do, but it’s almost impossible in the U.S. to use ebooks from the library well. It’s not the library’s fault – publishers are insisting on extremely limited distribution to libraries… in my case the library has only one copy of the ebook which means I have to get in a very long line to read one.
This is a reflection of the publisher’s fears of losing control and income. I don’t know what the balance is, but getting into a hundred person or even 20 person line to read a single copy of an ebook isn’t it. Until this sorts out, and people are working on it, the free ebooks are a more satisfying experience.
Implications for writers & readers
The writing is on the e-ink so to speak. More and more writing, particularly, but not exclusively, is going to show up in virtual form. We all need to get more compatible.
And that obscure Buddhist text? It’s The Shobogenzo - A Trainee’s Translation of - Great Master Dogen’s Spiritual Masterpiece. And I’m wrong, it’s over 1,000 pages!
The 500 page book is The First 5,000 Years of Debt by David Graeber. This is an important book. I slogged through it first from the library. The first several chapters are important, then you can pick and choose.
What about you? Have you started reading ebooks? Do you have an ebook reader? Read them on your phone or stick to print books. Tell us your story in comments.