OK lets get the luddite thing out of the way first up. I like books. Yep, always have and always will. Herr Gutenberg was onto one of the all time great little ideas when he invented movable type.
But (and you knew there would be a but) they can be a pain. They are heavy (dead trees… what do you expect) and bulky, you should see my bag… laptop, two dead tree note books, pen, assorted power supplies, hard drives, USB thingies, swiss army knife, headphones, client folder and the phone and PDA and the new Sanwa MP3 player. Where the hell do I fit a book.
So I load PDF’s and text files onto the PDA and read them there. My current PDA is an IPAQ H4700 which has a killer screen and is suprisingly easy to read. (My all time fav PDA was the PSION 5 but that’s another story).
Now for when the manuals get boring I just discovered a great source of stuff over at manybooks.net . There is the usual repackaging of the Project Gutenberg stuff, but there is also some recent Creative Commons releases, including Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow.
Here is some stuff from wikipedia…
Doctorow’s first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, is a utopian novel set in a future Walt Disney World where scarcity has been abolished and economic transactions are mediated through a reputation system similar to Slashdot’s “Karma”, measured in units called Whuffie. It was published in January 2003, and was the first novel released under a Creative Commons license. The license allowed readers to freely circulate the electronic edition, and that electronic edition was released simultaneously with the print edition. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was re-licensed under an expanded Creative Commons license in March 2003, to allow non-commercial derivative works such as fan fiction. Doctorow has argued that this commercial success has been due, at least in part, to the free licensing terms which build an audience for the books.
Anyway, go grab a “book” and load it up to your PC or PDA (or perhaps your iPod?) and have a read.
Update: When Google Print first started it was pretty obvious that it would end up being an amazing resource. It provided access to out of copyright books one page at a time. What we all wanted though was the “take out version”, the ability to download full PDF versions of the books. Oh, and could Google to provide this for free.
Google went ahead and did it. Books no longer in copyright are now available for download from the Google Book Search site.
Remember this only applies to older books, but it’s it’s still a great way of giving access to the world’s knowledge (in English, at any rate), and it can’t raise any objections from publishers. Books which were before available only on the shelves of large academic libraries are now available to anyone with a Web connection and some curiosity. Cool huh?