Monday, 9 November 2015

On ebooks and their readers

"For your homework, I want an essay on the subject matter
of location 303 on your Kindle app textbook and I expect
to see it in my email inbox by 9 p.m. tonight."
Composite by JH done with Fauve Matisse (public domain)
I am sold on ebooks. I first started giving them serious thought when I learned that Princeton had published their Collected Works of C. G. Jung as a complete digital edition. I had previously purchased a number of his books from the series in paperback, so I have added to my Jung library by purchasing individual titles from the Princeton digital series. You do save quite a bit by purchasing the complete digital edition but as I did not really need much on the practice of psychoanalysis, buying just what I needed to add to my Jung library seemed like a better choice. I did pay almost $100 for one title, though: these are not the sort of ebooks that you can buy for 99 cents each! The paperbacks all have an index, anyway. Mind you, the text search that is possible on the Kindle app on my Samsung tablet has far greater functionality. The complete digital edition would cost me just over $500. Sometime, I might buy it anyway as I expect (hope?) it would searchable as a single book. That is one level of functionality that should be commoner in ebook readers. If I had the Kindle device, it would be possible to search for word or phrases across my entire Kindle library, but the app on my tablet does not have such a feature and I can only search within the book that is open.

I just downloaded an app for doing the sort of text search that you can do within your document files in Windows 7 as it was purported to work with ebooks, but having tried it, I see it only works with books in PDF format. I will keep looking for an alternative. if you do know of such an app, please leave me a comment.

I also have an app, and have purchased books in Google Play and it has a similar sort of search function as my Kindle app. If I had just purchased a proprietary ebook reader I would be restricted to its own publications and I would not be able to listen to my Google Play music while reading my Kindle without having to take more than one device with me on a journey. Besides, I like the screen resolution on my Samsung 7'" tablet and it fits nicely in my jeans back pocket.

Not all ebooks are created equal: I decided to buy the ebook version of Vincent Megaw's 80th birthday Festschrift but was annoyed that Oxbow Books was too lazy to produce a properly formatted ebook and the layout is in two columns. A problem that seems common to ebooks is that while you can enlarge the text, or just magnify the screen (which is more useful), you cannot zoom into pictures or diagrams. Jung has a few diagrams that are just too small, even when I am wearing my reading glasses. Google Books is better in that respect because you can enlarge the illustrations. This is perfect for the older books without dreadful half-tone pictures. As a writer, I also like to be able to select and copy text for quotes, but the Kindle Cloud Reader does not allow you to do such and I have to use my tablet app for that and then use Dropbox on my desktop computer to access the quote.

There are also more mundane advantages to having a portable elibrary: you can find more people to help you move house, for example and you will not have to make trips to Ikea for more bookcases (right now I have no room for more, anyway). I also wish that schools would use only etextbooks, too, that way there would be more room on the bus when I inadvertently board one when school kids are also boarding with their oversized backpacks full of textbooks.

Tomorrow, how I got see the future after breakfast on Sunday.

John's Coydog Community page

No comments:

Post a Comment