Wednesday, January 05, 2011


My New Year's Resolution to do more blogging will take a hit, I can see already, from a competing Resolution inspired by the new toy my wife and I were lucky enough to get for ourselves for Christmas:
an E-Reader!

Do you have one yet? What do you think? Now that we finally have one, I can't imagine not having one, they are simply awesome.

After shopping around, we got the Sony PRS-650 model. The size felt comfortably portable, not too bulky, not too small. I like the page turning speed, it's appreciably faster than, for example, the Kobo E-reader, the device offered by Chapters up here in Canada. I can "turn" a page with my e-reader, by tapping the screen, and the next page appears as fast as if I was turning a page in a real book. I can shut it off, and when I turn it on again it goes right back to the last page I left it open at. I can abandon one book for another, and when I return to the first one it picks up where I last left off.

I'm offered a range of sizes to choose, in the event that the type of a given book is too small.

A very welcome feature is that it comes with a dictionary; you get to look up puzzling words in the books you're reading on the device. How cool is that??

It also comes with a stylus, that emerges James Bond-style from the top corner of the device, which you can use to make quick notes.

The Sony reader doesn't limit you to only reading e-books in proprietary formats that only a Sony reader would recognize. The e-books themselves don't take up much file space, which was a pleasant surprise; I can't see myself needing to ever enhance the basic memory capacity that we got included with the model.

At the risk of my co-bloggers considering me even more eccentric than they already do, I have to admit something: for me, the enduring attraction of these e-readers, what really sets my heart a-pounding, is how I've been granted comfortable access to the scores of free, archived old books online nowadays at sites like Project Gutenberg, Google Books and Bookworms have been busy scouring the world's libraries, to scan each and every out of copyright book to be found, but it's proven rather frustrating, not to mention impractical, to try and read a whole book off of a computer monitor...

Leading to a dream come true, for this history buff: as a lifelong lover of history and biography, I can't count the times I've skimmed through bibliographies, aching to have access to the old books I'd see referenced there. How could I ever hope to someday hold in my hands a book from, say, 1869, or 1847. How likely would it be that I could read a book from the 1700s...

Well, I've now lived long enough that this daydream has become a reality. I can simply download these antique treasures onto my e-reader, in seconds, and enjoy them all to my hearts content, whether in bed, on the bus, at a coffee shop, with the additional bonus that there's little worry it will crumble into dust in my hands. Their contents, the memory of their experiences, can be retained, for yet one more generation.

And just in time, it seems; we are being granted an unprecedented amount of back-door access to old memories from an older age, one step ahead of modern publishers determined to transform classic texts into "texts with a message for moderns, made accessible to moderns."


truepeers said...

Actually, Niger Innis (!), from your Fox News link, is a step behind the ball. They are rewriting Mark Twain.

I don't know who Niger Innis is but funnily enough seeing the name reminds me of the "Black Douglases". Back in the late nineteenth century when society in British Columbia was gelling and looking back on its early mid-century history, some people were embarassed by the fact that the first Governor of the colony, James Douglas, looked Black. In fact his mother was a Guyanese Creole; his father a Scottish merchant but I'm not sure if this was then known by many.

A story went around of the "Black Douglases" - supposedly, there was a branch of the Scottish family that was famously dark-skinned for some unknown reason!

Charles Henry said...

I admit, my link takes us to a year-old story... I just felt it was the more glaring example of censoring history, for re-writing the very title of the book, in addition to the contents, compared to the current Huckleberry Finn example.

That's interesting to learn about our first governor... do you suppose that had a direct influence on why he was such an abolitionist, and why he was so committed to ending slavery among the many native tribes during his tenure as governor of BC?

truepeers said...

Who knows? - a Victorian man, rooted in a Christian society, could have come to anti-slavery convictions whatever his family background; and, IIRC, James Douglas never talked about his roots, which is why there was later so much speculation about them. He also had a half-Cree wife; a "country marriage" was common among fur traders but I think this open fact became more of a problem for his daughters in maintaining their status in later BC high Society than was his mysterious partial blackness.