I was never that fussed about eReaders and eBooks, but I tried the FBReader app on a tablet and found I enjoyed reading the odd public domain book. My reading chair is right by a window and the tablet screen has a lot of glare and I was constantly turning the screen sideways to avoid glare, so I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and cover during a recent sale.
I also downloaded and installed the free Calibre open source software for managing eBooks and sideloading books from my laptop to the Kindle. The programmer Kovid Goyal had a great idea in this program, the only fault I find with it is that to add a website to the drop-down list of archives to search in the Get Books function, someone has to write a script. You can write and ask someone to do it, but I don’t want the fuss.
I tend to like thumbnails of book covers on the Kindle and if Calibre can’t find a cover when it downloads metadata, it’s easy enough to browse online manually for one or to make my own up in Photoshop. Here are a few covers I made, Number 17 is a rather lame ghost story and didn’t really need a cover as I deleted it after reading, but I needed a bit of fun on a slow day.
Skookum Chuck is a classic featuring the coast and sea of British Columbia, and is from Project Gutenberg Canada. I have really enjoyed reading it. The author, Stewart Edward White, is known for novels that feature landscape and nature and the outdoors. Strangely, this book is not mentioned on the list of his works on Wikipedia. Of course, it’s set in Canada, why would anyone mention it?
As well, I’ve got about 15 classic mysteries all downloaded and ready to read on the Kindle. I love that I can use Calibre to add metadata to downloaded books, and I particularly like to get a cover and cover blurb for each book. The ePub and mobi formats for eBooks are based on HTML, and I can convert all formats in Calibre to the native mobi format for the Kindle very easily and then add or edit fields and tags as I wish. It’s also very easy to plug the Kindle into my laptop and open Calibre to transfer files and I can remove the device from within Calibre.
The files on Project Gutenberg Canada are in HTML or text-only, so converting them is necessary and I have found a few gems on there that aren’t available anywhere else. I discovered that it’s often because of our copyright length regulations. With some exceptions Canadian copyright is Life +50 and in some other countries, including the United States, it is Life +70, so 50 years after the death of an author the copyright reverts to public domain in Canada. Generally, but copyright is always a bit tricky, so you have to check.
Some browbeating fink on a forum started badgering me about why I was using Calibre and why I needed metadata and how I “should” do what she wanted etc. There’s one jerk like this on every list or forum. I enjoy the program and find it useful. I put the fink on Ignore and have been blessedly peaceful ever since, puttering away downloading free eBooks and metadata, converting books, sideloading books, making covers, all the top experiences of metajoy.
As yet, I haven’t actually bought a book from Amazon for the Kindle although I’ve downloaded two reading samples of biographies. I’m still a bit iffy on purchasing eBooks from Amazon as I like to have non-fiction/reference books in hand and I usually refer to them frequently or reread them. I don’t find fiction books to be a good price on Amazon and prefer to buy them on the secondary market or order them from the public library.
I was very surprised at how easy it is to read on the Kindle. I have it set to Landscape mode for reading as I find that emulates a page in a real paperback best and is easiest on my eyes; my brain tends to flow better through the words. The little cover I bought is the Midnight Fish design by Fintie and apart from a slight plastic smell it’s very good and works well for protection and automatically puts the Kindle to sleep when I close the cover.
A good experience all around.