Friday, March 4, 2011

Project Gutenberg and the E-Reader

Wow. You could hear crickets chirp around this place. The holidays came on with a vengeance and tore me from this amazing space. I won't apologize for not posting, because I hate when people do that. What I will say, is I missed it. And I didn't realize how much I missed this expressive outlet until I came back. Let's hope I stay a while.

Not that I haven't been creative. On the contrary, I have frequently chosen creating over writing. It was the right choice in the moment, so I regret nothing.

I did mention the Christmas insanity that took over. Well, one of the wonderful gifts I got this year was a Sony E-Reader (thanks Mike!).

Because I work in such remote locations for long periods of times, I read a lot. When I'm in the field, I will read about a book a week. This means that for a 5 week stay in camp, I will need to bring five books with me, plus extra reading material for the travel there and back. That takes up a lot of space in your pack.

Hence the e-reader. You simply load it with a pile of digital books and read them in the order you feel. Mine will even play music, so I can listen to music while I read (though I imagine this drains the battery).

One of the things that originally drew me to e-books was the fact that you could get digital books from the library, and the files will self-destruct after 7, 14, or 21 days (your choice). I thought this was fantastic, until I found out more about it. The library only has a certain number of "copies" of digital books that can be "out" at any given time. One of these digital copies has to be "returned" before another reader can "borrow" it. So there are huge wait lists for digital books - and these files are only a few hundred kilobytes. They could be downloaded en masse, and there would still be enough bandwidth for everyone. But thanks to digital rights management, we have to wait EVEN LONGER for digital library books than we do the actual physical copy.

And then I found Project Gutenberg. From this site, you can download digital versions of classic books in the public domain. Their collection is good for popular books, but it can be tough to find copies of more obscure books. Not sure what to read? Check out their list of the top 100 downloads for the previous day and see if there's anything you like!

Want to help make the collection larger? Most of Project Gutenberg's books come from Distributed Proofreaders Canada, where readers like you and me help the project by proofreading just one page a day.

One can also purchase ebooks, but considering the fact that they are nothing but a digital file, I consider them to be way overpriced. There is no shipping or production involved. Once the file is created, there is nothing further needed to create more books to sell. So why do they cost the same as paper books? Why? It's not like the paper book will die off. I still like to have hard copies of my favourite books to share with friends, and books with nice pictures to have on my coffee table, and great books for reference. Books are too substantial to ever die out.

1 comment: