Re: The Classics

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Not that there aren't other places to get free books, but 1. handy kindle format and 2. the collections seem kind of thoughtfully put together.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:18 PM
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I would be reading Free Moby Dick (prequel to Free Willy, presumably) if I could find my damn charger cord.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:39 PM
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Browse by author: goes by first name, "The Bronte Sisters" are under "T", not all authors are listed.

Also, I've clicked on a few books and can't find the HTML5 reader.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:45 PM
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Ah, finally. Call of Cthulhu has an HTML5 reader version. It looks nice.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:46 PM
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Hey, this is crazy. I just met you. Call me maybe.


Posted by: Opinionated Cthulhu | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:50 PM
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Good find.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:54 PM
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I do not recommend trying to read Faust in the 1890 rhymed original meter translation. That's a fucking hard text to translate; everything sounds like crap.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 2:58 PM
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I refuse to read Faust in translation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:09 PM
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Yeah!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:15 PM
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I also refuse to learn German.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:19 PM
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Yeah!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:20 PM
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10: YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED UNDEREMPLOYED BLUME | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:21 PM
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Sorry. I already learned and forgot one foreign language.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:40 PM
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The sequence of 8 through 11 is delightful.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:41 PM
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1: And a nice contemporary interface, which is usually lacking in most digital collections.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 3:42 PM
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This site is one of those things that makes me feel dumb for having a Nook and not a Kindle.

Old out-of-copyright books are awesome. Lately I've been reading Sherlock Holmes stories on my Nook. I think I'd only read one of them before, ever. It was the show with Bandersnatch Cummerbund that made me want to go read them all, I guess.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 5:19 PM
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I actually really dislike that site, but as a way to get books onto devices that are not that site it seems pretty good.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 5:46 PM
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2 Anonymous and I are meant for each other. S/he can't find their charger, I can't find my Kindle, even though I know it's someplace in my apartment.

Blume: In case I do come across my device, do you know of similar site with stuff in German? If it has stuff in other languages that would be even better.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 5:55 PM
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I can't find my Kindle, even though I know it's someplace in my apartment.

Have you tried writing a novel to it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 5:56 PM
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I've used Project Gutenberg a lot for classic texts, especially poetry, but the formatting usually leaves a lot to be desired.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 6:01 PM
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Amazon already offers a lot of public domain books free for the Kindle. Does this site have a significantly better selection? I've always found what I wanted on Amazon, but I don't have obscure tastes in old books. Where it gets frustrating is authors who straddle the public domain horizon, e.g., P.G. Wodehouse, whose best stuff is not free.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:01 PM
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Does the site offer better formatting? Some of the free Amazon books are pretty garbage-y.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:04 PM
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I remember downloading books from Project Gutenberg and reading them on my Palm back in 1999 or so. Those were the days.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:11 PM
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So this seems like a good thread to ask... which e-reader should I buy? I'm guessing Kindle over Nook, but of the 900 different Kindle models which one do I want? If I get a Kindle Touch, will I miss the keyboard?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:32 PM
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I like my Nook with the backlight for the e-paper. I'm locked into the B&N ecosystem, though.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:36 PM
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24: I have a Kindle Touch and I like it well enough. The keyboard is for shit if you have to type anything of length, but I don't have to type anything on it. The screen is big. I've never seen a Kindle Fire, which I guess is sort of supposed to be a shittier, cheaper iPad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:37 PM
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The Touch is like a book in that inside a dog, you can't read it. There's no backlight.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:38 PM
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If I get a Kindle Touch, will I miss the keyboard?

Kindle keyboards were designed for creatures with inhumanly strong and inhumanly tiny fingers who don't need to type in numbers that often because, hey, when would you ever want to jump to a certain page number in a book.

27: but at least you can read it inside the sun.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:51 PM
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24: I got a Kindle Touch, and I like it, but if I had it to do over I would probably buy the base Kindle. I don't miss the keyboard at all, but it doesn't quite have a place to comfortably hold it which means I occasionally drop it on my face when I'm reading in bed and I accidentally turn pages somewhat often.

I would get the one without ads because I'm pure like that but it sounds like the cheaper one with ads is actually fine, really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 7:57 PM
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I have a Kindle Touch, and I don't miss the keyboard, but I do get annoyed that I can't wipe dust off the screen without getting sent to another page. And one time a fly landed on my screen and I got sent off into the end-notes.

The cover I bought comes with a built in light that shines on on the Kindle and is powered by the Kindle battery, so I can, in fact, read it inside a dog. Although I actually liked the light on my previous Kindle with the keyboard better because it had less glare.

I have the ads and they are fine.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:04 PM
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After shopping quite a bit, I got the base model Kindle with the ads (because I wanted to see how the other half lives -- I mean, I might run for President some day, and then I'll be glad I know how much a dozen eggs or a loaf of bread costs). I don't miss a keyboard, am very glad not to have a touch screen, and generally find it much easier to read books on than my iPad. Also, I bought a case -- that cost nearly as much as the Kindle itself -- because said case has a fold-out reading light, which runs off the Kindle's juice and provides more than enough illumination to read inside your garden-variety dog.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:34 PM
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This is the case. Now that I see what it cost, I feel sort of sick to my stomach. I could have bought 426 loaves of bread for that money! Or maybe only 3 loaves. I forget.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:35 PM
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I didn't realize there was a Kindle that wasn't a touch screen and didn't have a keyboard. I also have the ads and don't really notice them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:39 PM
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In fairness, the case is kind of sweet. And since it's leather, I suppose I can eat it in a pinch.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:40 PM
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How do you buy books or search them with no keyboard at all?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:48 PM
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The reason I got a Nook instead of a Kindle was because I could spend airline miles instead of real money. The week after I received it, they started offering Kindles through the same mileage-redemption program.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:49 PM
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My parents have Kindle Touches that they use to read books and Kindle Fires that they use to play Words With Friends and to access Facebook. Maybe also to read magazines on? Anyway, they were able to buy Kindle Fires that had been returned by people who didn't really use them at all, at a fraction of the usual cost. I guess this is a thing one can do.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:52 PM
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I guess this is a thing one can do.

Like cannibalism or weaving.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 8:53 PM
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Or making bad faux-buttermilk using regular milk and limes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 9:28 PM
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Blume: In case I do come across my device, do you know of similar site with stuff in German?

I'm not Blume but zeno.org is pretty sweet; likewise textlog.de.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 9:39 PM
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I mean, I might run for President some day

Canada has presidents now?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 10:10 PM
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Slip of the keyboard; surely he means king.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-12 10:12 PM
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I vote for baseline Kindle having had the keyboard Kindle previously. I don't really miss the keyboard and the smaller overall size is great. And unlike the Touch I don't have to worry about random page changes. Only downside, apparently, is that the Touch's battery lasts a bit longer. But they both last ages, so it's not like it matters much.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 12:36 AM
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I like my Nook with the backlight for the e-paper. I'm locked into the B&N ecosystem, though.

This isn't really true--the Nook is actually a little more open than the Kindle, because the Nook at least supports .epub files, which is the default open standard for non-DRMd books. You can put DRM-free .epubs onto a Kindle, but it does take an extra conversion step; and you can strip the DRM from the files, but that's a bit of a bother.

Just looking at the SFPL's ebook library, it appears that they have 15k Kindle-format books, 16k DRMd epub-format books, and about 11k DRMd PDFs (Kindles can't read PDFs unless you strip the DRM), though of course there's surely tons of overlap, and most of those are probably available in all 3 formats.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 1:34 AM
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So this seems like a good thread to ask... which e-reader should I buy? I'm guessing Kindle over Nook, but of the 900 different Kindle models which one do I want? If I get a Kindle Touch, will I miss the keyboard?

This is probably not an issue for you, but another thing to consider is whether you want to read books that are PDFs, which are often sized for a 6x9 page, and therefore simply too large to be read comfortably on the 6", 800x600 pixel screens of either Kindle or Nook. There are also larger devices, however.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 1:42 AM
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I have a Kindle Touch I bought when I was in the US [so it has hilarious inappropriate US ads on it for things I can't buy here] but I like it a lot. I bought the non-lit case, as I'd intended to buy a separate light for it, but I can't really remember needing a light so far. I definitely didn't want anything with a backlit screen, as a big part of the attraction was the e-paper interface. If I'd wanted a backlit screen I'd have gone with an iPad or similar.

I use Calibre to convert non-Kindle format ebooks for it, and it seems fine. I've probably bought double the number of (e)books I normally would since I bought the kindle, so it seems like a clever thing for Amazon.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 1:53 AM
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The Open Library has tons of free ebooks in a bunch of formats, plus a lending program where you can get even more ebooks if you happen to be on the network of a participating (mostly public) library. Plus, they actually care about metadata*, if you're into that kind of thing.

*FRBR FTW


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 2:00 AM
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I have just been given a Kindle. I downloaded the Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs MIT e-book, sent it to the Kindle's e-mail address, and voila. hundreds of pages of LISP and introductory CS, absolutely free!

sadly the diagrams don't work very well. but once I've finished it I can get on to David Harvey's A History of Neoliberalism.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 2:18 AM
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Does this site have any actual advantages over Gutenberg, or is it just additional?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 3:19 AM
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Question for the hive mind: Are there any e-book readers or tablets that allow someone in the U.S. to purchase and read e-books in Japanese?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 4:34 AM
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That depends. Can you read Japanese on paper?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 4:53 AM
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I can't, but the person who would be reading the Japanese e-books can.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:06 AM
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I use a Nook Simple Touch, I think it's called. It's the minimalist version: it's not supposed to replace either my phone or my computer, so I don't want to watch movies or use apps on it, it's just to fill the niche of reading something on a paper-equivalent screen. I do like the wifi, though, and the touch screen is a nice option even though I don't use it much.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:32 AM
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Great. One problem down. Now you should see if the devices can display text written in Japanese.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:32 AM
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54: Let's be honest: this isn't about hunting helping me find a suitable e-reader anymore, is it?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:54 AM
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On reading electronically: I've used them all, and

Touch based, e-ink readers are great for reading prose in e book formats on the go, and particularly outside. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, all good. Amazon has it's own format, but is the biggest player so that evens out. The others all use the same format but manage to often be incomparable anyway.

A small e-ink reader is light, cheap, and the battery lasts ages. pick based on whether you want to buy books all through amazon or not.

All of these devices Suck for reading PDF or anything with figures or pictures.

All of these devices suck for anything other than reading prise.


The other options are tablets, and here it is pretty simple. They almost all suck horribly.

The 3rd gen iPad screen is phenomenal. The previous generations are ok. This (3rd gen) device is wonderful for reading and the right size for it. Great for PDFs, anything with figures, the web etc.

Downside, it is pricy and heavy, and you'll only get a day of battery. Also not great outside in direct light.

All the other large format tablets suck.

Googles new 7 inch tablet is pretty good. It's the first android that doesn't suck on a tablet, and the next release will be the first decent tablet OS from android. It is really not a direct competition to iPad, as 7 in and 10in are very different. Will not be nearly as good to read on, but will be much better than other small tablets for doing anything else.

As a reader then, not as good, but manageable. This is the only viable alternative to 3 gen iPad today.

The non e-ink tablets from the e-reader companies are all pretty crap.

MS surface remains to be seen.


Posted by: Farce Major | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:57 AM
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@50 maybe worth looking at Kobo for that, as they have just rolled out in Japan.

Tablets and PDF work.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:59 AM
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Other people are helpful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 5:59 AM
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Apologies for phone induced typos in 56


Posted by: Farce Major | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 6:00 AM
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On Japanese text, the Kindle can definitely display it (and Russian, Greek, Arabic etc). I'd be fairly surprised if the other major e-readers couldn't too. Buying books is another matter. Kindle in particular is extremely fussy about buying ebooks outside your jurisdiction - ttaM may be able to share some helpful info on that front. You could of course buy stuff not from Amazon and de-DRM it. More importantly, I just don't think there are that many new books published in e-reader format in Japan yet.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 6:22 AM
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I have a Nook SimpleTouch with the backlight. It's not perfect, but I quite like it. The touch screen is fairly responsive--much better than the old Nook's color LCD touch bar thing. The backlight is surprisingly decent, too (I had low expectations). I like not having to give up e-ink or keep the device in a case to be able to read in the dark.

Also, as x.trapnel said, the Nook is a bit more open than the Kindle, which was maybe a larger factor in my decision than the fact really merits. But there you go.


Posted by: rural merkin | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 6:25 AM
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The flipside to other readers being more open out-of-the-box than Kindle is that other readers can't read books from Amazon out-of-the-box. In practice, given Amazon's dominance of the ebook market, I think the latter limitation is more of a problem than the former.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 7:14 AM
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I know Amazon used to have a significantly better selection than BN, but I'm not sure that's true any more. BN claims 2.5 million books, compared to Amazon's 1 million, but I believe they include all the out-of-copyright ePUB books in that number, which skews the comparison. The internet doesn't seem helpful on this point either, but I haven't yet had the experience of a book being available on Kindle but not Nook, for what that's worth.

Amazon's pricing might still be slightly better than BN's, but I haven't compared them recently.

The one area where Kindle does have a clear advantage is the new(ish) lending program for Amazon Prime members. They don't have a huge selection yet, but that could soon be a significant benefit for Kindle owners.


Posted by: rural merkin | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 7:40 AM
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To be fair, the situation may not be so severe in the US. In the UK, where B&N has no presence, Amazon has a significantly better library than anyone else. My dad has a Sony eReader and is constantly unable to find books that are available on Amazon.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 7:49 AM
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The Kindle's other big advantage is the wireless delivery, right?

I actually use something entirely different, with an 8" screen, which is pretty good for academic-sized pdfs--it's European (and discontinued), you probably wouldn't have heard of it--but the software isn't very good, and I'm pissed off that they never really got their act together.

I still believe it was a colossal missed opportunity for US universities, particularly law schools, to have not joined together in a consortium to develop (and have the committed buying power behind) a really well-designed tablet/reader designed for the main university use case: reading and annotating unlocked content you already have access to. I've heard the latest iPad with Papers is okay for that, but this should have been done 6 years ago (and for plenty of folks, the fact that the ipad can do so many other things makes it not so good for reading and research--distraction!).


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 12:47 PM
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The Kindle's other big advantage is the wireless delivery, right?

Yeah, it's pretty sweet. I'm at work, I stumble upon a lengthy article I'd like to read at some point, click on the Instapaper bookmark and when I get home it's on my Kindle.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-12 2:43 PM
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So this seems like a good thread to ask... which e-reader should I buy?

None of them. Get kindle software for your mobile phone instead, and/or get a general purpose tablet instead. Does everything a kindle would do and more.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08-19-12 12:59 PM
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Except for not straining your eyes, which is the whole point of a dedicated e-reader. I've got Kindle software on my phone and iPod, but I do almost all my ebook reading on my Kindle.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 3:28 AM
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Yeah, I'm with Ginger Yellow on the e-reader/eye thing. I find the e-reader screen much much better for reading prose. Combined with the lighter weight and the better battery life, it's a winning combination. I have a light netbook, with e-book reading apps on it, but I prefer the Kindle, any time.*

* for prose. Obviously if I need to interact with it, or want colour diagrams, or whatever, then an e-reader doesn't cut it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 4:34 AM
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Obviously if I need to interact with it, or want colour diagrams, or whatever, then an e-reader doesn't cut it.

True. A week ago I wouldn't have heard a word against e-readers, but I'm reading a book with a lot of maps in it at the moment, and they're pretty much incomprehensible.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 4:40 AM
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re: 70

Yeah, I have a photography text book [of sorts] that I'm reading which is unusable on the Kindle. The photos themselves are sort of OK-ish, and aren't the key point of the text, but the text point size [it's a PDF] and the diagrams make it unreadable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 4:45 AM
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The e-reader is also great for reading outside. It was such an odd feeling at first to look at a screen in full sunlight and have it be just as readable as indoors.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 5:22 AM
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In a rather freakily timed move, given my comment 64, B&N have just announced they'll be launching the Nook in the UK later this year.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 6:55 AM
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Maybe they've started reading here for market research.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:00 AM
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So what's the consensus re B&N? Are they actually any less evil than Amazon, or are they simply not big enough to perpetrate evil on a truly monstrous scale (but probably would given half a chance)?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:00 AM
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Given that they've stayed with books instead of moving into landmines, I think they're probably fine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:03 AM
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Apparently, Pennsylvania residents have until the end of the month to dodge sales taxes by using Amazon. Maybe I'll buy a ton of books.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:10 AM
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So what's the consensus re B&N? Are they actually any less evil than Amazon, or are they simply not big enough to perpetrate evil on a truly monstrous scale (but probably would given half a chance)?

I'd say the latter, but mainly because that's how companies are. Also the few times I've been in a B&N I've rarely been able to find anything interesting - even Borders had a better graphic novel selection, for instance. But I may be unfairly comparing strip mall B&Ns with university campus bookstores.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:17 AM
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I always liked Borders better, but B&N is the only bookstore near me now. The campus bookstore has, for a renovation that will apparently be done by contractors specifically selected to maximize lethargy, stopped selling anything but texts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:22 AM
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Im sure B&N is as evil as they can get away with, but I have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, soulless mega bookstore that killed off smaller bookstores, most of which were terrible but some of which were beloved and excellent. On the other hand, for a while in the late 90s (probably ending) you had a pretty decent (not great, but decent) bookstore in thousands of remotish strip malls and towns which previously had nothing close. Our UK readers may not be familiar with the horrors of Crown Books or Waldenbooks, previous mass market book chains that B&N killed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:29 AM
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But I may be unfairly comparing strip mall B&Ns with university campus bookstores.

At least in the US, most of the official "university campus bookstores" are B&Ns now. Unless you mean other independent bookstores located on or near campuses.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:38 AM
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When I was a kid, I was 2 hours away from the nearest Waldenbooks. This may be why I don't worry as much about Amazon being evil.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:38 AM
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Hmm. I grew up 30 minutes from a Waldenbooks and a B. Dalton. IIRC, Borders bought the former and Barnes & Noble the latter, but they didn't change them at all. It continues to be true that no decent bookstore thinks it's worthwhile to open up anywhere near where I grew up. The opposite side of the city, in the wealthier suburbs, always had a lot of nice bookstores.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:41 AM
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Lord have mercy on a boy from down near the Waldenbooks.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 7:56 AM
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At least in the US, most of the official "university campus bookstores" are B&Ns now. Unless you mean other independent bookstores located on or near campuses.

Either, really. Generally speaking, campus bookstores are better than non-campus bookstores, even within the same chain. And most of my non-strip-mall B&N book store experience in the US has been on or near university campuses.



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-20-12 8:41 AM
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