Some tangentially related notes on recent experiences reading books:
- When I was thinking about getting an iPad, I wondered what format I should buy books in. I was thinking the contenders were Amazon’s proprietary format versus ePub books (sadly largely with encryption in both cases); but when I actually got the iPad, I discovered that it’s a really great PDF reader. (Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a retina screen on it, but it works quite well as is.) And, as it happened, some of the early books that I bought were from the Pragmatic Programmers, which lets you get books in PDF and ePub (and Amazon’s format, but I don’t have a Kindle yet, so no reason to choose that if I’m not buying from Amazon). And, for now, I’m liking PDF books a lot more than ePub. I just hope that the book industry doesn’t take as long as the music industry to start embracing non-encrypted formats, so I can get PDF books from other sources.
- Having said that, non-page-based formats do have their uses. A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Nicola Griffith’s Always on the Kindle app on my iPad. And then I found myself out of the house with some time to kill, so I pulled out my phone and switched over to reading the book on that. (I didn’t have my iPad with me.) And that worked great, much better than reading a PDF on my phone would have or sitting around being bored would have.
- Another unexpected electronic book benefit: our dog Zippy is getting rather old, and wakes me up squeaking a couple of times a night on average. (For better or for worse, I’m a much lighter sleeper than Liesl is.) Sometimes he needs to go out, but sometimes he’s achy and just needs cuddling for a while. And I like being able to read while cuddling with him without having to turn on a light.
- Speaking of Nicola Griffith, I’d forgotten just how amazing an author she is. Or rather, I’d been somewhat reminded of that when I read her memoir, and I like her blog as well, so I’d been meaning to dig back into her fiction, but I hadn’t gotten around to it until the last month. I don’t think I’d reread Ammonite since it came out, but it’s quite good; better still is Slow River, and rereading The Blue Place was eye-opening. I’d never read Stay or Always, but I’m quite happy to have remedied that omission.
- Speaking of omissions, I’d somehow stopped reading Madeline L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journal after the first two books. No idea why I stopped then; I went back and reread them just now, and they’re rather wonderful. Though so far I’m not enjoying the third one as much; maybe it will grow on me (it took a while for me to appreciate the first one, I seem to recall), or maybe it’s just more targeted at Christians?
- I’m very glad to have been reading a lot of fiction these days. I’d been weighting my reading rather heavily towards technical books over much of the last year; partly for good reasons, but partly because I’d been swayed by sales of electronic books at a couple of publishers. And while electronic books don’t raise exactly the same inventory concerns as physical books, they’re still inventory, and the fact that I own them still unduly influences me to read them. I’ll have to be more vigilant about that in the future.
- Sad that Borders is going out of business. I like independent bookstores, but to me it’s much much more important to have a large selection of books available for purchase, and Borders did a great job of that as a chain; I visited the local Borders about as frequently over the last few years as any other physical bookstore. Their time has passed, but I salute them and will miss them.
This post has not been revised since publication.