Thursday, February 26, 2015

What Is a Kindle Good For?

As long-time readers here will recall, I am not a fan of ebooks and I am absolutely and irrevocably disgusted by the self-publishing scene. About a year after I got my Kindle as a Christmas gift I stopped using it to such an extent that I lost track of it. I didn't even know where the goddamned thing was and really didn't care, except for the fact that it was a gift from my wife, and that I sometimes used it as a tablet to access the Internet when I was traveling.

So, what was it for, really?

I wasn't getting any real use out of it. I admit to occasionally buying ebooks that were written by friends, but after a solid year of reading self-published novels that ALL (yes, every single one of them) turned out to be utter shit, there was no way that I was ever going to use the Kindle for buying such trash again. Why was I keeping it?

Yeah, it makes for a half-assed decent tablet for Internet content if I can find wifi service while on the road.

But was that it?

No.

Finally, after having the damned thing for a couple of years, I did discover a good use for it, and one for which the form is uniquely suited:

Classic literature and otherwise out of print books. I have now downloaded many hundreds of such texts. Essays, novels, old news items, political tracts from the past, and such. And--I mentioned this long ago--it's a good way for authors who have regained ownership of older novels to get works back into circulation once their lives with traditional publishers are over. There is a tremendous amount of great work now easily at hand that I would otherwise be unable to locate or only find after months or years of searching in second-hand bookshops and library sales.

So, for that, the ebook format is good. I still don't prefer it as a method of reading, but I will take it to get my hands on Turgenev, or M.R. James, or some of Mark Twain's forgotten essays, amusing science fiction from past decades, and the list is vast and growing.

Best of all, this stuff all seems to be completely free. All I have to do is locate it online in the correct format and push a button. Zing! It's mine.

But, to paraphrase a now-famous article, 'No, I will not read your fucking self-published novel'.

Ivan Turgenev
(And, yes, I produce this expression when someone asks me to read their fucking self-published novel.)

4 comments:

Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

Google "Project Gutenberg." Also, you can get the complete Sherlock Holmes and all of George Orwell for freebs online, too. Never before in history has so much great lit and philosophy been available to the masses -- but the masses are so dumbed down they wouldn't think to go for it.

James Robert Smith said...

Alas! Our fellows are mainly idiots.

Stuart Gardner said...

I love the Kindle app on my iPhone not only for countless old / public domain free works, but for many,,many new standard books such as all of Sam Harris, many Hitchcock studies, backgammon and physics books and the like.

James Robert Smith said...

I have lots of classics downloaded on my Kindle, books on philosophy and science, too. I will never download another self-published book on it. Also, I have no games on it.

Sam Harris...no comment.