Monday, October 6, 2008

I want to go to Trona Pinnacles, Fossil Falls and Little Lake

...a neat part of the California desert near Death Valley. This is about the right time of year too. And where did I hear about it? Of all places, Huell Howser's California's Golden Parks. And I thought the Simpsons were parodying a fictional TV show!

Kindle makes me read more…& why aren’t PD ebooks better?

Now entering my 3rd month with Kindle, I still have stock complaints about fairly obvious usability problems and missed opportunities for such a device, but nonetheless it is creeping into the category of “always in my backpack”. I’ve found it makes me read more, for 2 reasons that weren’t obvious to me when I started using it.

  1. When I have time, I can read for hours on end, but I have to switch among various titles to avoid saturation. Before, I had to get up and get a different book from the bookshelf (or beach bag, or whatever). With Kindle it takes seconds to switch to another title and I don’t have to exert myself. Yes, that sounds lazy.

  2. I spend a fair amount of time evaluating a book before deciding to read it; I read editorial reviews, customer comments on Amazon, etc. The “try before you buy” feature makes this even better since I can sample a chapter or so of the book, usually instantaneously.


I’ve also been downloading a lot of public domain ebooks by some of my favorite authors–Darwin, Sun Tzu, H.L. Mencken–but I’m baffled as to why the ebook-format versions of these aren’t better. Manybooks.net, and its mobile companionmnybks.net, distribute lots of Project Gutenberg ebooks in a variety of ebook formats. But the book metadata as translated fails to pull any structure out of a book, so you don’t have a navigable TOC or index, and certainly no intradocument links (even in documents converted from HTML that contain well-formed intradocument hyperlinks). In my copious free time I hope to do better on this–a modest goal would be converting an HTML document to ebook (.prc or .azw or .mobi) format while preserving internal links.