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Community Comment

Sat., Feb. 19, 2011, 2:05 a.m.

To Kindle or not to Kindle…

Good evening, Netizens...

When the Amazon Kindle first made its appearance, given the volume of books I regularly read, I admit it was a strong temptation to slap down over $100 at my local Amazon Bookstore so I could read books online. After all, I observed, look at all the money I could save between hardbound books costing between $15 to $200 and the electronic versions of the same books costing less than $10, and in some cases free.

Did I say FREE? For years I have been downloading and reading various electronic texts from Project Gutenberg and various other online sources. Most of them were the great classics, but there were various other fiction and non-fiction works, nearly all of which were free of charge. The only problem with Gutenberg is that most of these were ASCII text files, which weren't formatted all that well, and sometimes difficult to read. The beauty of these online books was there were thousands of them there for the asking.

Over the years, the various sources of online reading material has expanded and grown, and as new formatting became available, such as HTML and other styles, the Gutenberg collection became increasingly desirable.

Then came the Kindle, with its portable screen and easy-to-read formatting, and suddenly reading books became more cost-effective and much easier than ever before. So why would I resist buying one of these new electronic gadgets?

To put it simply, I already have too many electronic gadgets already. Holy thudpuckers! I have one whole side of my rather huge desk dedicated to various electronics, including four computers on a raised platform, 1 flatbed scanner, two USB hubs, a 5 port ethernet hub, an 8 port wireless hub, two UPS devices and two external hard drives. Oh, and I forgot an electronic alarm system.

Fortunately, I now have several pieces of open-source software which allow any of my computers to read files written in Kindle formatting: a book in a file, if you will. These software applications run on almost any hardware platform, ranging from Windows, Mac and Linux. So I can sit or lay wherever I want, reading a book of my choice. Hence, this afternoon, in less than an hour, I was able to download and read William R. Forstchen's excellent book, One Second After mentioned by Ron the Cop earlier for $10.00 onto my Linux laptop, no Kindle required, thank you.

To Kindle or not to Kindle? I think not. Of course, your results may differ.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.