No essay this time. No rambling about some arcane topic. Just rambling about common topics.
Once again, I return to e-books. In particular, the Kindle. I spotted a commercial for the Kindle on television last night. Very stylish, and creative. Very little mention of reading. But after you see the ad, you feel like you need to own a Kindle. As luck would have it, I do own a Kindle 2. It came to mean through a promotional means related to the publishing industry. The ad didn't sell me - mainly because I hadn't seen it at that time. (That is the shadow of my paws over the Kindle)
I confess, I was torn between the Nook and the Kindle, and any Sony device. I went with the discount. And then I started running into people who had purchased Kindles for gifts, or were receiving them as gifts for the holidays. Everyone was excited - you can read books anywhere (I could before). You can bring all of your books with you (couldn't do that, and still can't with the Kindle, but I see the point, although I'm not sure of the need). The Kindle is small (so is a book). It is light-weight (most books are). It looks just like a book (so does a book).
And yes, I own a Kindle. It is a delightful gadget. I can read books anywhere, even though I can with my iPhone and a Kindle application. It is light...looks like a book. Okay, enough said.
What I've been wondering about with all of this excitement is this: How many people are purchasing e-readers because they are nifty technology? The Kindle commercial certainly pushes heavy on "coolness" and "style." At a metaphoric level it hints at reading by becoming different characters. But at no point does it show someone sitting in a chair, gazing at a Kindle. That approach probably wouldn't work. But my guess is that is how it is used most often. I've not tried dancing with my Kindle yet.
In the end, if you're interested in a Kindle, I'd say you'd probably enjoy it (particularly if you like to read). You can make notes on it. Look up words. Listen to Audible.com books or MP3 anythings. You can store your own documents on it, and it has free Internet access. Yes, you can browse the web, read blogs, use web-based email. None of those things work as well as a computer. But they do work. Of course, you can get books very quickly, and there are many free books to be had (out of copyright). And I'd suggest quizzing Jeff Edwards about e-readers. He puts them to very good use, and is quite knowledgeable on the subject.
The drawback in all cases is the price of these things. Sometimes they range the price of a netbook (which can do all of the above). But you don't get a free screensaver with one of your favorite authors. All in all, they make great gifts because the person being gifted does not have to pay the high price. So maybe gift yourself.
So what am I reading on my Kindle? Everything I was reading on my Kindle application for my iPhone/iTouch. But I did go back in time and read Tobias S. Buckell's novel Ragamuffin (2008).
Yes, I know this isn't his most recent book. I've read the recent ones, but for some reason I didn't read Ragamuffin. So, it seemed like a good test of the Kindle. And a way to catch-up on books.
For those who don't know, this novel is a SF novel, set in the future, with a rough and tough protagonist. A female protagonist. And the novel has strong social undercurrents as humanity is far below being second-class citizens. Oh, before anyone says, you're reading too much into it, I'll respond: I'm not. :) Even if Tobias says otherwise, I will disagree. Why? Because it's there to be found, regardless of the author's intent. Although, I suspect there was intent.
In many ways, the novel reproduces the themes of the Harlem Renaissance literature (don't moan; I'm not going into a history lesson).Social stratification, species-ism, and biological discrimination are a part of this work. So is action, combat, witty dialogue, and an interesting universe. Certainly, there is science in this work of fiction, but it is not hard science fiction, which means those of you who dislike long explanations of how technology works or why there is gravity on a spaceship don't have to worry.
The novel starts with a bang and ends with a boom. You'd have to read it to get the joke. I'd certainly recommend reading it, either in print or on an e-reader. And as for the e-book edition on the Kindle, the format was smooth, with the exception of what I suspect are "drop caps" for the first letter of every chapter. The first character of each chapter stood above the body of the text - it was clearly not intentional.
Ah, but someone is bound to say: It is too late to get any of these gifts. It's not! If you go with a Kindle, you can get it delivered before Xmas. And if you include a gift certificate, the books can be downloaded in minutes. This means that every following year you can do last minute gift buying as the gifts can be downloaded.