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Thursday, December 9, 2010

At the risk of being Heretical . . .

Digitized books -- eBooks --  have two advantages over conventional books.

Obviously, one is storage space. Something the size of a conventional paperback can hold thousands of eBooks.

The second, and to me the very biggest advantage, is the availability of some truly rare or impossible to find out of print books. Google Books, Amazon, Borders & Project Gutenberg list millions of books that were written before 1928 and are thus not under copyright. They are free to download and enjoy.

I hunted through these sites and found hundreds of books on early-day Montana and the west, Asian/African hunting and exploring, and some oddball topics that I had only dreamed of reading because of their scarcity and cost. I pulled dozens of them onto my cell phone for late-night entertainment, along with a bunch of the classics that I have always wanted to read and never did. And maybe never will, but the price was right.

Note: My cell phone has a screen that is roughly 2.25" by 3.75" and is quite readable -- more so than some of the paperbacks I get in. 

Sure, the eBooks are truly ephemeral and don't give any of the pride of ownership or satisfaction that owning a hardbound original copy does, but at least I get to read them without straining either my wallet or my shelves.

I will always prefer reading a "real" book but these are not a bad alternative for me.

"Memento mori"