Posts Tagged ‘ebooks’

A long lazy weekend. In many ways it is a good thing, a welcome respite from long drives and heavy traffic. On the down side…well, there is none for me, except that unlike most people I am not going anywhere. Staying home will reduce my carbon footprint and keep my finances in check. To those on out-of-town trips, on extended malling schedules, or resto/bar hopping, drive carefully and hold the booze.

So this stay-home weekend is devoted to some much-needed, much-delayed digital files organization. I have gone through my music files, now close to 15 G, and have painstakingly checked metadata, hunted for and resized album covers. Fortunately, I sing only to myself and a few chosen people so I have spared myself the pain of searching for and verifying the correctness of lyrics. I would lose without effort in The Singing Bee.

My ebook collection, on the other hand, is 10 G problem. Books have multiple formats, may come in several editions, and may be written by multiple authors. My technical ebooks, those relevant to my field, usually come in pdf or chm. I know, both are proprietary formats, but I have yet to come across one in epub format so I’m cutting myself some slack. Novels come in more varied formats: txt, html, pdf, epub, lit, lrf, doc, prc, fb2, cbz, cbr, odt, rb, pdb, rgo, pml, etc, etc. More than enough to create chaos and interrupt in your reading pleasure. I use calibre, a free, open-source, cross-platform ebook organizer/converter/reader to help ease the confusion.

So where is the problem?

It is much simpler to maintain music. One can choose music in ogg or mp3 and most media players like VLC are capable of playing these formats without problems. Converters, as in ebooks, abound. For ebooks though, converting from one type to another may mean loss of format, even loss of data.

A song can be over in 5 minutes or less, an album in less than an hour. A book? Depending on the length, your time, or your degree of interest, from a few minutes to infinity!

Since I want to do the reading myself, multitasking while on a book is a challenge. When I drive I listen to music. When I drive I dare not read a book.

For me choosing music is a simple but enjoyable experience. Music is the universal language. My interests covers a wide genre: I dig Verdi and Lady Gaga, I listen to Nina Simone and Gretchen Barretto. Well, okay, maybe not Gretchen Barretto. I exaggerate a little. I can go online to sample snippets of songs, or better yet find media streams and listen to entire songs before I decide alloting hard disk space. Then there’s still radio.

With books you have to dig deep and immerse yourself in the words, the chapters, the plot. You may instantly like or dislike a story after a few pages, see if the middle part is redemption or sabotage, then spend an infinite time reading 999 pages only to finally decide that you hate the entire 5 MB file in the end. There may be free first chapters or random pages but nothing beats the music stream. There may be reviews on how awesome or awful a story is but don’t you wish you could decide for yourself? So there lies the problem: so many books, so little time.

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Since I’m ranting about books and music, there are numerous sources to these in the web, both legal and not-so-legal.

For music check out independent acts or this article. Amazon and mp3.com offer some songs and albums for free. Both are great for discovering artists whose names have yet to cross the Pacific or Atlantic.

Opportunities for free reading are also aplenty. Project Gutenberg covers classics or out of copyright books. For contemporary literature (as well as classics) in all formats known to man these occupy an area of by bookmark toolbar: Feedbooks and ManyBooks. Indie writers also provide free downloads of some (sometimes all) of their works in Smashwords and Lulu.com. Or subscribe to this blog or this one dedicated to finding free reads.

See, so much to listen to and read.

Wait till we factor in the not-so-legal sources.

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