My Google Play Library

Well before ebooks ever came to the mass market, they have long had a great influence on my life. In this post I am going to touch on the many reasons why I love ebooks, and how I came to know ebooks.

I have long used ebooks. Long before I even had a proper ebook reader I was finding ways of using them. I saw the future in Ebooks. Growing up I was surrounded by books, literally. My family reads a lot. At one point we had over 15 large book cases filled to the top. It seemed like we were always in the market for another book case and books were always in the mail.

The idea of compressing that huge library into a single device was unbelievable to me. I started out going to Project Gutenberg which at the time was really the only way of getting ebooks. Kindle didin’t have a market yet, but that didn’t stop me. To me free books were just as good as paid books.

Why I love & Hate Ebooks

When I thought of ebooks in the past I thought of a truly free culture where all books were free and everyone with the perquisite device would have a massive library opened to them. This obviously didn’t happen though, I think my good friends a Google would have liked it to.

Cost

Ebooks cost money, and in my opinion to much for a non-transferable copy in which ownership is defined by a licence agreement. However that is changing, ebooks have come a long way and people are now pushing hard for price drops, especially for books that are older. The greatest paradox of ebooks appears when the ebook is actually priced higher than the physical copy. It is in these situations where I end up welcoming a new book into my humble milk crate bookshelf.
There are however thousands of high quality works in the public domain that are completely free. This is one of the many reasons I feel ebooks are important. Access to literally a library of nearly unfathomable wealth makes owning an ebook reader worth it.
Back on the other end of the spectrum, Kindle books written for Kindle are often sold well below the average cost for a paperback. And for those among you who read best sellers when the are first released ebooks are the cheapest way to go with best sellers originally retailing at $9.99 vs. $25-30 for the hardcover. 
So I love ebooks for the massive public domain libraries that are are accessible through them, but I still feel the price gap between the mediums need to be increased. There is no reason why an ebook should sell for five dollars more than a new physical copy.

Searchable!

Ebooks if you didn’t know can be searched through with the tap of a screen or the click of a button. This is by far the best reason to like ebooks, especially when research is concerned. That being said the search isn’t say as good as taking notes with page numbers, or knowing the text well enough to just pull up that one page, but search will come in handy when you just need to find just the right reference to the Minotaur.
Not all ebook search functions were created equally though, and this is truly unfortunate. The Kindle App for Android has become just as fast as Google’s Play Books app in terms of search, but the desktop app is still stupefyingly slow. 

Weight

My Lightweight Study Environment + Calming Tea!
This is a big one for me. I am not a large man. I am six foot four inches tall and I weight just over a hundred and fifty pounds. I may be tall but when I turn sideways I sometimes feel I disappear. For this reason I have some trouble with very large, very heavy bags, and to make it worse I hate backpacks! I use a medium size messenger bag with a large strap. 
As you might imagine I don’t like carrying a lot of books in that pack especially because I am already carrying a laptop and tablet with me. Why should I bring anything more then that when those two devices are perfectly suited for used as ebook reader and note taker. In fact this image shows exactly how little I need to carry when all my books are ebooks. And getting back to cost, so long as the ebook is a similar price to the physical copy I don’t mind it so much because I know the weight I cut down is the real savings.

Sustainability

With this I don’t mean that ebooks don’t kill as many treas, I don’t know thats true, and I don’t think that matters when the industry that makes these things, namely China, does so without concern for the pollution of the land and water. So no I don’t mean that ebooks are better, in fact I aesthetically would like to have a large physical library one day. 
What I mean is ebooks don’t degrade, the ebook is a digital medium which can be copied and duplicated over and over again and It will always be there as long as the infrastructure remains to maintain them. Books degrade, especially mass market books which are printed on cheap paper never intended to last long.

A Short History Of My Life With Ebooks

Handspring Visor

My first ebook reader was actually a Handspring Visor PDA installed with a Palm Pilot app called Plucker. With this I read half the books in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom chronicles (John Carter) and several tales of Sherlock Holmes by Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle.

GP2X
My next experience with ebooks, again from Project Gutenberg was with a retro gaming device called the GP2X a fun little emulator based gaming device which opened my world to retro gaming. The device also had a built in ebook reader, allowing it to serve double duty.

Nokia N800

The Nokia N800 was the next ebook reading device to grace my hands. Released in 2007 the Nokia N800 was Nokia’s bid at the future of handheld web interaction.

The N800 featured a 4 inch 800×480 pixel display, which made the device just a pleasure to read books on. So much so that I took up reading good old Project Gutenberg’s books yet again, via a Maemo (OS) app called FBreader.

I read books this way for nearly two years, before taking a long break from ebooks as I discovered Ubuntu.

Kindle Fire

My first experience with paid ebooks came with Amazon’s first color ebook reader the Kindle Fire. This device marked my shift to reading paid ebooks and even textbooks.

The Kindle Fire was so thin and light compared to everything I had used previously that it became the perfect device for ebooks. It is here where I started buying books for my classes. This cut down on the weight of my bag that was normally dominated by the heft of books.

Thats not to say the Kindle Fire didn’t have its problems. For one it ran a heavily themed and locked down version of Android Gingerbread (2.3). It was impossible to get any Google Play apps on the device without rooting it. These problems didn’t fase me so much at the time because the device did what I needed it to do which was show me the book, and let me run Evernote so I could keep notes along the way.

Ebooks have substantially changed my way of thinking and learning, my ability to focus in front of screen has improved drastically.

So tell me how have ebooks changed your life?