Reading

Public Library Books for Kindle

Public Library Books for Kindle

You can borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States to read on any generation Kindle device, free Kindle app, or in your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader. Public library books for Kindle provide the same unique features as Kindle and Kindle books, including Whispersync technology that synchronizes your notes, highlights and last page read, real page numbers, and more. This feature will become available to libraries nationwide in the coming days.

This is a very big deal. Amazon is really on to something here.

Michael S. Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg dies

Obituary for Michael Stern Hart

Simply put, Michael Hart was the first to get what both Google and Amazon and Apple now get: having books in digital form, while not a total replacement for paper, allows a different kind of use of the material: searching, text to speech, and more.

I met Michael many years ago at a conference and as his obituary alludes to, he was an odd fellow. No doubt some of his oddities including his frugality prevented Project Gutenberg from taking off the way it might have. But, to be fair, Michael founded Project Gutenberg in the days of dial up modems before there was a world wide web so it was always a bit geeky.

I still have a folder on my computer with a nice collection of eText, downloaded from Project Gutenberg in the 1980s. I put together a disk of eText that I’d give away at conferences telling teachers and students that if they’d copy the books and documents (the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) onto their computers, they could get MacinTalk or its equivalent in the MS DOS/Windows world to read it. This was a great thing for many people with reading problems and while text to speech is much better now and an entire library fits on a small flash memory device, Michael was the pioneer that got us started.

[via Daring Fireball]

Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?

Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?

Fascinating piece with graphs on the reading habits of people who are consuming at least some of their reading material on computers and hand-held devices and using services like Instapaper and Read it Later to time-shift when they read things they find. The study is from Read it Later.

The flood of content disrupts us all day as if we have an maniacal paperboy throwing new editions on our doorstep every 15 seconds.

Yep, that’s about it.

I’ve been using Instapaper for a while now to save things I want to read later after the paperboy settles down or I get tired of picking up new papers, many times on my iPad.

When a reader is given a choice about how to consume their content, a major shift in behavior occurs. They no longer consume the majority of their content during the day, on their computer. Instead they shift that content to prime time and onto a device better suited for consumption.

Initially, it appears that the devices users prefer for reading are mobile devices, most notably the iPad. It’s the iPad leading the jailbreak from consuming content in our desk chairs.

And this is one of the important reasons I do not want to get another desktop computer: I don’t want the “best” computer in the house to be a magnet holding me in my office chair. I know this is a fallacy because I can collect things to read all day on the iMac and read it later on the iPad in a comfortable chair, but somehow I’m worried that won’t happen with me. Odd worry but there it is.

[via minimalmac]

New Edition Of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Will Eliminate Offensive Words

New Edition Of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Will Eliminate Offensive Words

This is terrible. While I don’t use or support the use of the word “nigger” it’s an important part of the history of the United States and the setting for Mark Twain’s book was early enough so that the word in question was in common use.

I find it interesting that NPR’s comment filter is not allowing the word “nigger” to be posted in comments about a story about that very word. Wake up NPR, you’re doing what you’re reporting about.

There’s a poll at the end of the post:

The scholars doing this hope it will introduce more young people to ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ I think:

  • That makes this OK.
  • It’s still the wrong thing to do.

Over 96% of voters think it’s still the wrong thing to do as do I.

Instapaper = virtual breadcrumbs

Feel Free to Read This Later, on Your Phone

But there are also other approaches, alternate distribution systems like the one that Marco Arment, a 28-year-old programmer, has created while working at home in Hastings on Hudson, N.Y.

He built Instapaper, a clever way to create personalized publications. It is clever because it plays to human psychology by helping us gather articles we want to read, but have no time to read while we are foraging.

Instapaper is breadcrumbs for your winding path through online information and it’s fantastic, I’ve been using it for a few months now and I can’t live without it.

As I use my iPad and iPhone more Instapaper becomes even more valuable. The article doesn’t explain well enough the power of RSS feeds though and some folks (like me) prefer apps like Reeder to apps like Flipboard as aggregators of feeds. Instapaper is the next step, saving things from browsing feeds we want to read later.

This entire structure is breaking down information consumption for many folks. Some of us have done it this way for years because we use RSS newsreaders and scanning there is a step before going deep on any one piece of information. For many folks, a setup like this makes it easier to scan and save things while you’re on the train where it might be hard to read deeply so that you can read things later when you’re in a quieter place.

Wendell Minor and Gordon Titcomb

Wendell Minor and Gordon Titcomb

Washington, Connecticut. Wendell Minor (illustrator and author) and Gordon Titcomb (writer and musician) have put together a book based on the lyrics to one of Gordon’s songs: The Last Train.

Our local book store, The Hickory Stick Bookshop had a signing and I had them sign three copies: one for me, one for my friend Gary who like me collects signed first editions and a holiday gift for my friend Edward’s son Henri.

It’s not every day that you can hang out with book authors but I happen to know these guys because our paths cross often in our small part of the world.

Wendell is a world renowned children’s book author and illustrator and has dozens of best selling books out in the world. Gordon is a world class musician who has played both on tour for years with Arlo Guthrie and in studios for numerous musicians. They’re both great guys, totally accessible and the book is wonderful and would make a nice holiday gift for many a train lover.

Gordon played and sang between signings but there were so many he couldn’t keep up.

I should have taken this with my S90 but I had the iPhone out so I used it. Not great but good enough.

City of Asylum

Writers in Danger Offered Safe Haven to Practice Craft in Pittsburgh

Last night on the PBS NewsHour Jeffrey Brown did a piece on City of Asylum/Pittsburgh which offers writers from countries where they’re not free to write a safe haven to think and write.

Residencies for Writers-in-Exile
For two years we provide a furnished house, a living stipend, medical coverage, and help in transitioning to potentially permanent exile.

This is the kind of organization I like to support.