Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

Spring Cleaning Gone Too Far?

13 April 2011

By Christina Morin

With a visit from my parents fast approaching, I spent much of this weekend engaged in that age-old activity prompted by the thought of mum coming to town: cleaning. In fact, I spring-cleaned the house, deciding that this visit of my super-clean, totally uncluttered mom was the perfect time to scrub the floorboards, tidy the under stairs cupboard, and generally de-clutter the place from a year’s worth of accumulated stuff. As I hoovered, dusted, and scrubbed, I thought about the extreme act of de-cluttering performed by Stuart Walton, who, in a piece for The Guardian on 9 April, spoke of ‘laborious[ly] disburdening’ himself of the vast majority of his considerable collection of books. While moving house, Walton was inspired to donate most of his 2,000 odd books to charity shops, in what was obviously a painful but, it seems, ultimately liberating experience for him. As Walton correctly observes, ‘we develop bonds of intellectual and emotional affection to books, which makes the act of disposing of them seem like wanton ingratitude’; yet, he doesn’t record any regrets about his decision to offload his library. Rather the opposite, in fact, Walton questions the need and desire to keep books in the first place now that we have firmly entered the digital age: ‘space is at a premium and limitless quantities of literature, music and film can be stored digitally [… so] [w]hy keep a hard copy?’. Now in his new, almost book-free house, Walton follows a strict policy of ‘buy, read, flog on Amazon Marketplace’. Read more

Fire up the Kindle

16 December 2010

By Christina Morin

As the proud owner of a month-old Kindle – the sleek wireless reading gadget sold by Amazon – I feel like I’ve become a spokesperson of sorts. Any more talk of my new toy and how wonderful it is, and I suspect people will think I’m on the payroll. I’m not, of course, but I am seriously, if somewhat unexpectedly, happy with my Kindle. After writing in October about how much I love and prefer good old pen and paper to more recent technologies, I felt quietly determined not to like the Kindle as much as the real thing. As it would happen, however, I received my Kindle as a gift just before setting off on holiday, and the novelty of being able to download, store, and carry around more novels than I could possibly read over my two-week holiday quickly broke down my reserve. The one quibble I had at this stage was the price of these digital books. As I mentioned in my recommendations for December, the ‘classics’ are very cheap – literally pennies – but more recent releases sell for approximately the same as they do in Easons or Hodges and Figgis. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at this – downloading music on iTunes isn’t significantly cheaper than buying a cd, for instance – but I was, not least because of the apparent lack of the object, the book itself, when once downloaded. Technically, after downloading a given text, you own it just as much as you do a hard- or softback, and you can store it almost indefinitely on your Kindle for future reference. Nevertheless, there’s nothing to put on your bookshelf, no actual object to hold or put your name in, which is undeniably one of the attractions, at least in my mind, of books, even if I’m constantly wondering where to put them all. Read more

The Kindle reader: how does it fare for historians?

27 January 2010

Contributed by Sarah Arndt

This Christmas brought me the newest version of Amazon’s digital book reader the Kindle. It was purchased as a solution for my increasingly problematic collection of books.  Many in academia can sympathize with my obsessive purchasing of books, and my inability to part with any – no matter how old or unread.  However the Kindle, though extremely useful in many ways, is not likely to completely take the place of traditional books purchases.

Its use as an academic tool for researchers and students depends on what types of materials you regularly read, and your willingness to upload different formats. While Amazon advertises over 400,000 titles available digitally, few if any of the specialist history books required by researchers and students are available. The history section mostly focuses on various strands of American history.  Having said this, any PDF document can be read on the Kindle making it ideal for reading online articles, older digitized books and theses which otherwise have to be read on the computer.  MS Word documents can also be converted and read on the Kindle.  Readers can add their own notes to any book or document, and look up the definition of any word, although these features are a bit awkward to use.

Perhaps its biggest personal selling point is for casual reading.  Read more