Kindle and book freebies

In between accounts of the smog over Beijing, James Fallows at The Atlantic has been writing about his new Kindle and being able to use the device overseas. He also mentions a couple of free ebook download sites. I wanted to add to that list that the science fiction book publisher, Tor, is making several books available for free downloads through today (including PDFs for online reading). Hopefully this isn’t too late a notice for most of you.

I am still enamored with my Kindle, so much so that I’ve filled it up with free and purchased books, as well as samples, research reports, and other documents. I recently added an 8GB SDHC card, and am now happily trying to fill it up, too.

I do agree with one criticism of the Kindle in that it would be nice if there were a way to categorize the writings, as well as organize them into folders. However, you can search on any term, as well as display them by author, title, and status, so that will have to do for now.

Returning to using the Kindle overseas, Amazon is still not selling the device or Kindle books overseas and this decision isn’t because of Whispernet, it’s because of distribution rights and issues of copyright. Most publishers sell rights to distribution in foreign countries, an old practice that doesn’t live well with new ways of delivering content.

However, if you have a US-based address (in order to receive the Kindle) and credit card that works with Amazon purchases in the States, you could get the Kindle delivered and buy books. It’s just that instead of having them download via Whispernet, you download them to your computer and copy over using the USB cable. You can also use the same approach for updating your Kindle’s software.

It’s not as convenient as Whispernet, but it is workable. Perhaps we in the States should “adopt” our friends overseas, though there are other ebook readers that can be purchased regardless of country.

It’s also important to note that you don’t have to purchase books with Amazon. Many companies, like Tor, O’Reilly, and others are also selling ebooks direct, in formats that should work with a Kindle, a Sony ebook reader, and so on. It’s not as convenient, but other approaches may not be so locked in.

As for whether ebooks will replace the paper books, Fallows writes:

My theory: television didn’t eliminate radio, telephones didn’t eliminate personal conversations, eBooks won’t eliminate real books. People always find more ways to communicate, and this will be another way. Very good for some kinds of information, not so much for others. A welcome new addition to the mix.

Yes, but isn’t Twitter destroying our brains?

update A timely and interesting article on the internet’s impact on reading in the New York Times.

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