end cap - looking back these past 5+ years on e-Ink

On balance eBook reading is a good thing: every person can become publisher and distributor, and some can make a living there, too. Here is what most continues to appeal to me.

-holds lots of materials (searchable, able to group/organize)
-send web content directly to the device for reading later/offline
-annotations (highlighter or notes) saved at kindle.amazon.com for filing or extracting
-Popular Highlights offers a quick way to discover salient passages based on crowd source
-sample chapter (author interview spurs you to get a chapter & ToC almost instantly)
-personal docs can be uploaded to carry around or reference

User experience is worth looking at, too:

During the past year or so, my downloaded free samples, free books, some monthly featured (marked down) books have migrated onto my backlit phone and/or tablet. The phone is frequently at hand, both for photos and for reading. So form factor leads me to snatch short stints of reading that way. Frequently I'm in poor lighting when reading urge or opportunity arises, so backlit reading beats my old kindle-keyboard. But when motivation is high then I make time to read in a well lit, quiet setting. That is when e-Ink excels.

The other snag to recurrent kindle ebook reader use is that I tend to be a magpie - sending content to device, but failing to read it. The result is more and more bulk on the device which seems to diminish its responsiveness. The solution may be to dump the files from Documents Folder onto PC and then load to read single files or smallish groups of files at a time. But, off course, to do so adds a layer of manipulation; far easier and appealing to download to phone, read or skim, possibly to share or reflect upon the author's work and/or engage with them.

In conclusion I'm pleased with several ebook reader functions on e-Ink, but also a little weary from the flood of written  work that I've gathered and feel unmotivated to work through it all. Perhaps the wizards at amazon will have work-arounds for eager digital reading advocates like me who have gotten bogged down or lost that 'shiny, new charm'.


kindle users - articles to view

tells about ways to take advantage of the reading tools, browser "send to kindle" and so on.

 [related articles from around the Web to be appended this posting from time to time]


deliver content to your kindle freely

kindle "magazine" (up to 12 sources are free), http://www.kindlefeeder.com

The navigation is like the journals, newspapers, etc at the amazon-store with subheadings for each source [feed publication] and within that group are the listed articles. Premium features of this service come at $20 per year. And the list of suggested titles to subscribe to grows weekly, with many in languages other than English, too.

Choice of 3 delivery methods once you have selected one or more sources for your kindle: via email attachment for USB cable transfer; wifi delivery (free.kindle.com) or 3G wireless (at $0.10 per megabyte).

Examples of titles [sortable by popularity, average wordcount, title]

slate blogs 3900
Slate Articles 828/2 www.slate.com
The Economist: Briefing 2149/2 www.economist.com
Japanese Lessons with Maggie 1478/1 www.maggiesensei.com
Ik heb altijd gelijk 830/1 ikhebaltijdgelijk.wordpress.com
Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph 338/30 www.telegraph.co.uk
Dan Ariely 343/5 danariely.com
ダイヤモンド・オンライン - 新着記事 109/1 diamond.jp
The Guardian World News 896/331 www.guardian.co.uk
Culture | guardian.co.uk 653/33 www.guardian.co.uk
Books: Books + Reviews | guardian.co.uk 781/18 www.guardian.co.uk


(portable) reading more thanks to eReaders

cross-posting from kindleworld.blogspot.com on 30 May.

' According to the research, the average e-book reader reads 60 percent more than a traditional book reader. Owners of a Kindle, Nook or iPad read an average of 24 books a year compared to the non-e-book readers who read an average of 15 books a year.

The study also found 42 percent of those who read digital content say they now spend more time reading than they did before, whether it's in bed or on the go and that women are reading more than men. '

Reasons given for moving to e-readers: easy access while traveling and commuting; font size adjustments, built-in dictionary, a library in the palm of your hand.  Even now, the study found, "88 percent of people" in that study who had read an e-book in the past year had also read a printed book during that time.  Read more on that here


portable eReading - conceptual views

Conceptually the portable e-Ink reading experience for me includes the following features:

1. Loose ends: in my undergrad days at U-Michigan when I wanted to find something I went to the library, since my personal collection was very limited. And when I wanted to go back to confirm something, I had a physical/spatial memory of it (book X and top-right page position, for example). Now there are so many forms that text, let alone other media, can take that my ability to remember is hampered: was it something I got from a podcast, youtube, blog, NPR story or monograph. By corralling some of the text-base content to my kindle or PC/browser bookmark, I know where to go to find something.

2. Amplified reading experience: I have grown fond of the ability to lookup people, places, and things in the middle of my reading experience. And the ability to adjust font size (bigger at night when my eyes are tired or in situations where light is poor) and to make annotations, and to be reading a dozen items concurrently all add to the volume, variety and quality of my reading life.

3. Opportunistic reading: I read in smaller increments in addition to my pre-digital habits of sitting down for 30 minutes or more for serious pieces. In other words, my eReader lets me switch on, go the the last page read and begin straight away; on the spot, at the spur of the moment, as I wait for one thing or another during my day.

4. Helpful extension to my PC screen: being able to grab things mid-stream as I surf through websites, articles and emails and to transfer these onto my eReader is great. I can read later. Anything longer than a screenful, or anything denser than casual writing works best on paper or e-Ink for me. In addition, I can mark up. I can repost to FB or Twitter (although I'm not used to that feature, really). I can view "popular highlighting" for some titles (a rough and ready way to see salient passages from other readers' markup). I can copy/paste my annotations to give to others via printout or email, etc.
5. Instant gratification: Being able to hear an author on the radio, catch it in print or online, or seeing it on TV used to motivate me to look up the book and consider purchase or borrowing. Now the ability to download a sample chapter without delay feels like magic (powerful, useful and effortless).
6. Portable brain: Being able to look up something out of thin air (wirelessly) is reasonably efficient and being able to carry around reference materials (manuals, instructions, baseline records, etc) is convenient, too. Much like the story of the person with just a hammer in the toolbox who viewed the world in terms of nails to be hammered down or pulled out, the person with just a few intellectual tools and accoutrements sees the world in those terms. But with the Internet and other reference materials at hand, one's range of tools expands greatly and grows daily.
7. Always on: subscriptions (free or paid) are delivered wirelessly, giving the experience of immediately being up to date.


trouble-shooting... slow annotations

I still have not solved my annotations poor performance (more than 3 minutes before the reader's navigation became usable in one extreme instance of 5 lines of text).

Here are my thoughts for those who end up having to do the Factory Default (reset):
reloading personal docs & samples via USB cable (backup of f:\kindle\documents), copy across in batches by date

=-=-=-=-=-= INDICATIONS

(I carry 3 pages of Collections on my HOME screens, or about 750 books/documents)
Gradual loss in annoation performance: some rewrites were instant, but others sometimes froze the screen navigation for up to 3 minutes or longer.It is unclear from Amazon technical support whether the steady use of kindle annotations causes an accumulation of My Notes and Marks such that the annotation performance slows down. But if that is so, then annual or more frequent rebuilding the kindle\document files may be regarded as a periodic maintenance task. If that is so, then these are the steps to follow, along with cautions to bear in mind before executing the Factory Default.

=-=-=-=-=-= STEPS

1 Prepare for the worst (loosing all records and filenames, particularly personal documents loaded via USB cable rather than wirelessly)
2 Backup to PC all kindle materials from folders: DOCUMENTS, MUSIC, AUDIO (and if you manually created a PHOTOS folder).
3 You may wish to make screenshots of your named collections, too, just in case the auto-repopulation (re-register) fails to do this. Procedure: hold Shift+ALT + G in each screen you wish to save. Then copy or move the resulting GIF files from the kindle\documents folder over to PC.
4 Reset to factory defaults by HOME >Menu >Settings >MENU >Factory defaults
5 After all account data is obliterated and the kindle restarts, go to settings and re-register your account with Amazon (username + password)
6 If all goes well, your settings/preferences will reload and collections will reload as empty but labeled listings on the HOME screen
7 But you still need to go to SETTINGS and re-enter "Personal Information" if you want the device to reference your contact details
8 Now reload content and sort into your onboard collections: your Internet kindle archive will hold any personal documents loaded via wireless (wifi or 3G) as well as any kindle store titles you own (whether they be paid or bought for $0.00). The kindle menu for ARCHIVE lists titles: click to pull the file down to the kindle from the online storage. There is currently no batch process, so you need to select each title, one by one. In the case of personal files loaded onto the kindle\documents by using the USB cable, there should be no hinderance or delay: just select in a sincle swoop and copy what you earlier backed up on PC over to the kindle\documents folder via USB cable (TXT, PDF, MOBI, image files: gif, jpg and so on). In the event you backed up AZW content that comes from your archive/purchases, it may show up when you copy it via USB cable, but you can't open this because of DRM. Instead the dialogue box instructs you to delete and reload from MENU >ARCHIVE.
9 The case of sample chapters you may have gathered on your kindle is different to the ARCHIVE books that you own and personal documents backed up automatically when sent via wifi or 3G to the device. The "manage my kindle" has no record of samples transacted, but happily the samples included among the PC backup content can be directly reloaded to the kindle\documents.

=-=-=-=-=-= FINISHING UP

1 Comb through the rebuilt set of files using the File Explorer of the PC to which the Kindle is cabled with USB cord
2 Identify stray files inadvertently copied across (ones you meant to leave off this time, but somehow ended up with *mbp, *phl, *azw or azw1 files)
3 Sort by NAME to discover bundles of related files (as they should be: under the same filename, but different suffixes) & orphaned files to cull (above)
4 Delete these orphan files (detached from their full group of main + auxilliary files of same name, but different Filetype suffix)
5 Sort by TYPE to discover any GIF (screenshots), JPG, DOC, HTML and other filetypes that kindle can't read natively. Cull these.
6 Eject the kindle from PC then leave undisturbed so all newly added files can be automatically indexed (for kindle searchability): this could take hours
7 Force restart by sliding and holding the power button for 17 seconds and the screen goes blank, then come back on (rechecking of indexing performed)
8 One by one, open each "collection" and begin the slow process of adding individual files to that collection

=-=-=-=-=-= Afterthoughts

Amazon should add functionality to make it easier to move from one kindle to another, or to do the Factory Default reset by enabling batch restore/reload of SAMPLES, of ARCHIVED titles (select all, then go back an uncheck the titles you wish not to reload in the one-touch, batch reloading).

=-=-=-=-=-= Final remedies

Telephone support could offer no further fix. So my choices are to buy a replacement at $85 or go on with the poor annotation performance (all other functions are fine). As a last ditch effort, I have set my user preferences to turn off the options: auto backup, popular highlights, view other highlights (those persons you may sign up "to follow")


Kindle reading one year on

Let me cast an impressionistic eye back across the past 12 months to see what difference the portable reading device has made to my view of the world. Overall the experience has been positive, both extending the range and volume of reading that I have done, and extending the quality of engagement with ideas, authors and stories.

After college and with the advent of Internet, the amount of my reading has gone down. But the ability to hear an author interview or news story on the radio and then go to Web search, Wikipedia or to download a sample chapter or entire book within minutes is appealing. With the annotations and screencapture capabilities, I can readily share passages with others I know who have common interests. And while I have not fully explored the subscriptions to magazines, blogs and newspapers, the limited experience I had under the Trial Subscriptions has helped me to understand the power of wirelessly receiving periodical content. The catalog of Project Gutenberg books at http://bit.ly/gutmagic has awoken my dormant interest in the classics –both early traveler accounts and many of the canon of Great Books. And with the convenience of kindlepedia (online converter of Wikipedia articles into a MOBI file for portable reading offline that preserves hotlinks and allows all Kindle annotation tools to be used), I have gathered sets of related articles into Kindle “collections” for rainy-day reading on two dozen interests that until now have been on the backburner of my imagination until now.

My habit of reading is different, thanks to Kindle, too. Instead of a linear experience of reading one or sometimes two sources during the same week, now I have perhaps 6-8 things underway at the same time; some suitable for reflective times of the day and others readable even in noisey settings while I wait or have a brief interval between tasks. In a sense this wider reading consists of sipping and gulping the material, rather than the slower and more sustained reading I do on paper. When faced with computer screen reading, if it runs more than a few screens, my inclination is to move it onto my e-Ink screen. When composing or editing text, though, I still tend to put the ink on paper to mark it up and revise. In sum, depending on the purpose, I will read on computer, on e-Ink or on paper. Each medium has its place, but of the three, it is e-Ink that seems most versatile and general purpose, with the other two reserved for more limited situations.

Conceptually, I think of my Kindle as a sort of bionic eye and ear. It amplifies my human abilities and allows me to touch the ideas of others quickly, usefully, affordably and for the long term. In the coming years I can envision this as indispensible; the equivalent to a personal automobile in our mobile society; the equivalent to a telephone, television or radio in our telecommunications era. With an appetite to learn (motivation), plus an eBook reader integrating to the Internet source materials (opportunity), one can undertake a course of lifelong learning that has no end.
Are there any disadvantages? The only downside in the past year is tendency for my intentions of reading to outpace my actual available hours to read. As a result, I quickly add more material to my eReader, and many times forget that I have placed the writings on the device, awaiting my attention. In an effort to treat the device as a place to go with my questions, rather than a magpie’s treasure trove of all sorts of things, I try to follow a certain workflow: confine readings to my “collections” (I have about 30), and periodically back up the F:\kindle\documents folder externally so that I can delete the onboard file when finished. That way I have the satisfaction of seeing the grand total of files go down little by little. The end result is to visualize all my accumulating electronic readings on an external “book shelf” with my active and next-in-line materials residing on the Kindle at any given time.

I have no idea what the design life of the device is, but I would like to be able to grow comfortable with this extension to my eyes and ears for a period of 5 years before having to shop for the next big thing. But looking back over the past year, I can say that Kindle has made it possible for me to read the Long Tail of written works, benefitting from easy access to things in print as well as gathering things that are long out of print, or that are too ephemeral ever to appear in print. I read more pages and I read better things from this deep well.


library books via Kindle

Earlier in October the eBook library system began. My town library is part of a regional coop that picks titles via Overdrive eBooks (in addition to earlier services in downloadable audiobooks) on a quarterly basis. They have about 400 fiction and non-fiction titles in eBook form. Once you login and fill your wishlist, you can do the 14 day borrowing for a few titles at a time.

The final step takes you to your amazon login page since the administration of the lending period is handled there, including a friendly warning about the loan period ending in 3 days (with the convenient button to buy). To renew the book for another loan period you must go through Overdrive once more, though.

Here are the details, Public Library Books For Kindle Help Page

The other day I was at a high school library and estimated the bookshelves behind my Kindle in this photo held about 600 titles. And the 4gb memory of the device should handle plus or minus 1,000. It boggles the mind to think of so much in such a slim package!

I've experimented with audiobooks, too. I prefer to drop the mp3 into the Audible folder so that the title shows on the Home screen and defaults to the player controls there (the Music mp3 folder uses a simpler player with fewer user controls). I found a foreign language one in the free section of Amazon to try out, too. Project Gutenberg has several foreign language text titles, but also a few audio books available; of course these are so large that wifi connectivity is needed. But using http://bit.ly/gutmagic lets you browse or search from the kindle before downloading favorites of any medium, text or audio.

Finally, I have experimented with placing various filetypes online so that a kindle user can browse there and click a link to bring the dialog box "do you want to download this file now?" This would allow me to 'publish' things for kindle users on wifi, for instance. TXT and AZW (and mobi and prc) all seem to work, but PDF does not. And JPG (and the other supported image filetypes) and HTML will simply display on-screen, not cause the dialog box to pop up.


library agreement 2011 for Kindle eBook lending emerges

Customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 local libraries to read on Kindle and free Kindle reading apps.
  Whispersyncing of notes, highlights and last page read to work for Kindle library books...
Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers. "We are excited to be working with Amazon to offer Kindle Library Lending to the millions of customers who read on Kindle and Kindle apps," said Steve Potash, CEO, OverDrive. "We hear librarians and patrons rave about Kindle, so we are thrilled that we can be part of bringing library books to the unparalleled experience of reading on Kindle."


pushing the buttons - Navigation experiences

Early spring an extension for the Chrome web-browser was released that lets you highlight a section of the webpage, or the whole thing, then click to send to your kindle (free wifi, or paid 3G delivery). Then Early April www.sendtoreader.com began something similar for other browsers, but unlike the Text only helper for Chrome, this one also strips advertising but includes images/graphics with the text.
Here are some habits that I have learned while navigating around the content on my kindle and Internet.
1. Turn on the kindle with the slider, but instead of turning off with the slider, I just let the screen "time out" (10 minutes) since there is no power used except to rewrite a screen image. That way the moving part gets less wear and tear. Normally I only turn on the wireless for Web lookups or daily blog deliveries. Otherwise to save power, I leave it off. Periodically I reboot the device (well, not wipe out the memory; just do more than sleep mode and actually turn OFF the power by sliding the button and holding it for 17 seconds). As a result I have noticed quicker notation processing times (highlighting or add notes via the keyboard).
2. On the HOME screen you can jump to a particular page by entering a number and hitting the 5-way button. At the moment I have almost 2 screens of "collections" (folders) and 6 more screens of content, so this "jump to" feature saves me from paging down with the side paddles. Remember that ALT+toprow keys become digits 1-9, and 0 (far right).
3. Web-based email logging in (mark the option box "keep me signed in" if available)
---a) from HOME MENU >Experimental >Launch Browser just move the onscreen cursor to "refresh" to rewrite the screen with current inbox messages (if you last used that screen)
OR: from within Browser Menu >History --->go to Inbox
OR: from within Browser Menu >Bookmarks --->set a bookmark after you go to http://kinstant.com [several Web email/mobile links are there]
---b) from HOME or while reading eBook: type a single letter of your choice to prompt the Searchbox choices, then cursor to "go to" and thereby launch the browser
Within the Web-based email sometimes it is quicker to use the BACK button to go up from the email reading pane back to the inbox list view (rather than to cursor the onscreen "next message" or "back to inbox")
4. Select/Paste text: While reading an eBook press the 5-way to place cursor at the start of a search word or phrase, proceed to highlight the complete string but DO NOT press the 5-way as normal to finish the text marking. Instead press the SPACEBAR to launch the searchbox with the marked text prefilled for you. Then cursor through the choices: wikipedia, google, add this note, and so on.
5. Text markup:
---Cursor *up* from the foot of the screen if your passage is closest to the bottom half; or cursor *down* for a passage closest the top half of the screen.
---Select whole lines by cursoring up/down instead of following the words left to right in sequence one at a time
(it would be great of ALT+cursor down would select a whole paragraph!!)
---Selections that run past the screen bottom onto the next screen work best by cursoring from left to right until the display goes to the next screen. At that point you can again use the whole line (cursor down) method.
6. Adding a note to a highlighted passage (instead of highlighting and then separately beginning a new notation):
Begin the highlight passage but before pressing the 5-way to end the passage choose the "add note" function from the searchbox choices offered and then hit "save note" to complete the process.


more about Kindle publishing

a recent promotion of this 43 page "how to" guide appeared Friday on the weekly podcast our of Massachussetts, http://thekindlechronicles.com 
Product Description A 43-page article for beginners on how to publish and sell short documents for the Amazon Kindle, such as magazine articles or instructional materials.

Topics include: Best practices for selling articles, how to determine pricing, pros and cons of book covers and images, how to represent articles accurately in e-Reader bookstores, tips for avoiding unnecessary costs and how to publish your article simply, without learning HTML coding or using conversion software.

Many of these tips are also applicable for publishing on the Barnes and Noble Nook and for Amazon "Singles" (short books ranging from 30-90 pages long).
Instructional Appendixes Include: e-Reader tips for creating table of contents links, how to avoid a common formatting problem, converting your article for a Kindle device, easy preview options before you publish, and a resource list of where to find free kindle books, podcasts, software and help forums. (Article: 7,900 words).


tip - put (audio) podcast onto Kindle

shows the process after you've got the audio file on your PC and then used the USB cord to place the file(s) onto the Kindle >Audio folder


after 3 months of use

1. It took some effort to gather up things suited to my personal interests: beyond browsing the One-Touch store at Amazon, I searched many other sources. Recently I came up with a laundry list of topics that I wished to read at leisure from the wikipedia site. So for that I go to Kindlepedia to produce a *.mobi file that Kindle can natively read.
2. Eventhough the memory is vast (3gb remain after loading scores of docs and a few books and photos onto the device), I feel like the thing is psychologically full because there is an abundance for me to choose from. I tend to read 2-3 sources concurrently, jumping from one to another depending on the degree of concentration or likelihood of being disrupted. The daily Amazon blog (free delivery, free subscription), for example, consists of short pieces I can read in one "gulp" usually. So if my reading is likely to be disturbed, then I can easily find my place and resume my low level of concentration.
3. I worry that the vast set of files, grouped into "Collections" (folders in effect) as they are, will be too big for me to get through. I am reminded of my behavior when buying a book versus borrowing from a library. The library book has a deadline (due date), so I tend to go through whole chunks then copy my margin notes. The bought books are there for any time (not time delimited externally; only by my own deadline setting - which is seldom). The upshot is that I expend energy to gather good material on the eBook reader for reading... sometime... but fear that it will be a long time before I actually engage with those texts or do something with them.
4. The blog or newspaper/magazine function is maybe the most likely for me to read regularly since I know the next one is on the way. But there is a natural limit there, too, since I seem to have less than an hour per day to divide among reading materials.
In sum, the device is a great place to cache good reading so that when the occasion presents itself, I can go immediately to the page I left off and begin again. It is a physical space for gathering good reading. Also, the e-Ink screen lends itself to careful, high-resolution reading (not skimming as often as LCD reading). So I look forward to the Chrome browser plug in to send selected content directly to the kindle through the wifi connectivity. For example, having missed both the governor's State of the State and the President's State of the Union addresses, rather than seek the audio, I put the text onto the eReader for reading/annotation.
I don't regret buying the thing and learning how to use for better text workflow and lifelong learning. But I still need to complete the circle: now that content is ready and sorted usefully, it is time to sit down and read it all!


eReading too easy for actual retention of content?


There is strong theoretical justification to believe that disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. Disfluency has been shown to lead people to process information more deeply, more abstractly, more carefully, and yield better comprehension, all of which are critical to effective learning.


This new paper attempted to provide the most direct test yet of the benefits of disfluency. I'd like to focus on their second experiment, as it involved actual students in actual classrooms in Chesterfield, Ohio. The researchers began by getting supplementary classroom material, such as PowerPoint presentations, handouts and worksheets, from a variety of teachers. (Subjects included English, Physics, U.S. History and Chemistry.) Then, the researchers changed the fonts on all of the materials, transforming the fluent text into a variety of disfluent formats, such Monotype Corsiva, Comic Sans Italicized and Haettenshweiler. Because all of the teachers included in the study taught at least two sections of the same class, the psychologists were able to conduct a neatly controlled experiment. One group of students was given the classroom materials with the disfluent fonts, while the other group was taught with the usual mixture of Helvetica and Arial. The font size remained the same.


After several weeks of instruction, the students were then tested on their retention of the material. In every class except chemistry, the students in the disfluent condition performed significantly better than those in the control-fluent condition.* Here are the scientists:


This study demonstrated that student retention of material across a wide range of subjects (science and humanities classes) and difficulty levels (regular, Honors and Advanced Placement) can be significantly improved in naturalistic settings by presenting reading material in a format that is slightly harder to read…. The potential for improving educational practices through cognitive interventions is immense. If a simple change of font can significantly increase student performance, one can only imagine the number of beneficial cognitive interventions waiting to be discovered. Fluency demonstrates how we have the potential to make big improvements in the performance of our students and education system as a whole.



sampling the subscriptions

Each account (or device?) can try the kindlestore magazines, newspapers, and blog subscriptions at no cost for 14 days.
So I selected a half dozen mags and a half dozen newspapers.
1 Wireless delivery is like magic: the articles appear on time every time.
2 Clipping tool allows whole article to be set aside for later transfer to PC.
3 Navigation is great: move between sections, jump to next article or browse them by headline and blurb before deciding to read in full
4 Best article runs 250 - 1200 words, occasionally with a few small photos or graphics
5 Best quantity was about 20-40 articles per issue
1 Cost of content is competitive, but no paper residue, cool layout, full color. So I'd feel better if net cost were 2/3 the subscription price.
2 Some titles fell short of the ideal quantity and quality.
=-= Upshot
Newspapers: I may subscribe to San Jose Mercury News or Mainichi Daily for a month or two periodically, but can't justify continuous subscription/payment.
Perhaps a Sunday edition only, or a digest of the week's highlights would be a better value in my case.
Note: I didn't trial the Bigs: NYTimes or Washington Post or WSJ, for example.
Magazines: The Economist came close to my ideal combination of quanity and quality.
=-= Next step will be to sample subscribe the Blogs.
They are sortable various ways. I copied the top 100 according to various sorting methods at http://sites.google.com/site/big1file/blogkindle


e-Ink wants to be free

In reply to a friend's anxiety on behalf of her librarian friends who worry about the consequences of less paper/ink reading and more eBook e-Ink reading I reflected:

The pattern for new ways of doing things has been gradual replacement: cars replaced horses, but still people ride them, for instance.

So the infatuation with eBook gadgets will swell, then fade. But a sizable proportion will stick and take the place of paper and ink for some sorts of text (periodicals and novels, as well as one's personal documents/notes and lists work very well). And more people will be able to "publish" their content as e-texts (no storage or distribution troubles).

From the days of Gutenberg onward, the ability for obtaining personal copies of texts and to lend them to others has only advanced the cause of literacy and magnified the power of written communication and thereby discussions. So I am optimistic about lending e-texts in a way reminiscent of paper texts: not endless copies to one's circle of friends, but one at a time. Those wishing to buy a personal copy and the ability to loan it to others could do so.

Textbook makers are experimenting with the idea of free content: you pay for the convenience of formating (color vs. black and white; printout on demand vs PDF). In other words, those who are cash poor but IT rich in time, could do their own formatting. But others would pay for the convenience of getting the content in a form that works best for their own needs.

All this is much in flux, but the IT river is flowing in the direction of "information wants to be free."


my thin bookshelf

With so much memory, it makes sense to look at the eBook reader as an entire bookshelf or bookcase, even.
In the past weeks I have browsed the tinyurl.com/gutmagic catalogue of free titles to download with a single click.
I was surprised to see so many audio and foreign language titles among those gathered at (Project) Gutenberg.org

Earlier I browsed the free section of amazon-kindle (about 2,000 non-fiction titles listed; some of which duplicate the gutenberg listings).
So now it remains to actually download the 100 or so books that appeal to me.
My strategy will be to gather the ones that I have singled out, then backup the kindle memory onto a DVD-r (4.7 gb) capacity; or onto CD-r (680mb), depending on the amount of space needed. That way, I can have a backup in case of loosing the kindle or having a malfunction. And the same file can be read on the desktop softward for kindlebooks, too.

Summary of reading habits by way of kindle:
-old titles are given new life (the Long Tail phenomenon)
-my range of reading subjects (and sources) has been expanded
-I have rediscovered reading for pleasure and edification (spotting The Vikings at local bookstore got me started on gathering online sources on this)
-I am able to read therapeutically: taking 10 or 15 minutes respite from the day's stream of activities and responsibilities
-I can readily copy passages to share with others: much faster than pencil notes in margins later to extract & type.
-I have bought a few books in addition to the collection I am curating from Project Gutenberg and other sources (more than pre-Kindle)
-I browse some RSS feeds on the reader.google.com service. I prefer this to screen reading (LCD/PC web connection).

In total I am able to continue my self-education (self-directed life-long learning), curate a wide collection of (classic) books, and keep up with online news sources and wikipedia entries. Having the dictionary integrally tied to the kindle content makes it easy to glimpse dates and definitions as I go. The notetaking feature is something I use sparingly, but the highlighting/clipping function I use an awful lot. I only wish I could jump through full paragraphs (maybe Shift+down arrow, instead of moving one line at a time).

Implications for writers, thinkers, and researchers

=-= Self-directed life-long learning
=-= Curate a wide collection of (classic) books
=-= also: Collections (folders) feature
Gathering and reading material longer than a screenful works well on e-Ink. By putting all relevant documents and citations into a bundle (the Collections feature, which allows a single item to be cross-listed in several Collections at the same time), it is convenient to work through a stack of materials, making notations in full with the thumb keypad (or making a stem entry to later flesh out in full from the MyClippings.txt onboard TXT file, or at the online backup of the MyClippings.txt at http://kindle.amazon.com (note the annotations are grouped by kindle store purchased/free title, not in the simple chronological sequence of the actual MyClippings.txt file which itself is inclusive of both kindle-store content and all other material you have engaged with). In short the portability, Web accessibility for reference look-ups, and annotation tools make this an efficient way to read, skim or scan lots of text and then do something with the resulting thoughts.

=-= Notetaking feature
=-= Highlighting/news article clipping function
=-= also: "post to Facebook or Twitter"
The first observations, above, dwell on the way to funnel content for portable reading. This next set of observations focuses on what you do while engaging with the on-screen stream of texts. Compared to the old way of penciling margin notes and then typing these into a text file, the ease of selecting and saving passages, as well as composing brief remarks on the keypad is positively thrilling. And when faced with a phrase to look up online, one can start as if setting the highlight cursor, but rather than finishing the selection as usual by pressing the 5-way key to end the highlight, instead press the spacebar. Then the marked phrase will appear in the URL/searchbox all ready for going online.

=-= Keep up with online news & wikipedia entries
Twitter-sized comments are fine on a smartphone or personal computer, but anything more than a few paragraphs is much better to view and engage with through e-Ink. Since the news stream is so perishable, it is well suited to electronic reading, commenting, sharing and excerpting.

The result of inserting e-Ink readers into (text heavy) intellectual work is to facilitate the easier sourcing, consumption and annotation/sharing of one's engagement with the ideas of the author(s). So bring on the eBook readers! Only please enhance the tools:

a) direct beaming (blue-tooth? adhoc wifi?) of one's clippings & content between devices

b) highlight cursor control to include: Shift+arrow down/up (paragraphs), +left/right (whole pages)

c) experimental browser to allow text selection from screen to MyClippings.txt

d) software to directly compose & (re)edit the AZW file format (maybe a plugin for MS Word, or OpenOffice?). At present, by putting content aboard as TXT one can directly edit via PC, but being able to preserve the AZW or MOBI formating/hotlinks and images would be a boon.

e) multimedia support: playback of an audio channel (such as recorded narration) to accompany a slideshow set of images/text (e.g. HTML or Word document converted to AZW, or PPT saved as PDF)


recent weeks - Magic Gutenberg catalog of titles

I'm nearly 90% of the way browsing through this remarkable file of free downloadable titles from Project Gutenberg the file seized up or was not well downloaded. The dialogue box said, "delete and reinstall the file." So I did and all is well. From the thousands of audio, print and foreign language titles, my eye was attracted to some of the rare and old stories: Marco Polo in two volumes, early accounts of visitors to Korea and Japan, and some of the classics like BlaisePascal or KarlMarx. Being able to browse (or do a specific search) and click to wirelessly download a book is pretty amazing. One thing the eReader cannot do, though, is to supply the hours needed to enjoy the books. But certainly it gives new life, form of presentation, and convenient accessibility to some of the world's backlist of titles.
I've started to get into the habit of placing longish things that appear via email or on a webpage onto my kindle, since it feels much closer to reading on paper than does PC (lcd) screen reading: the e-Ink uses reflected light instead of backlighting, and it offers more sharply defined letters on the page than does LCD reading. As a result I can focus (no blinking advertisements or urge to hop between several Windows) and read at length. Since the conversion to AZW adds a few steps, I find myself often pasting the content into a text file (Notepad or Word> save as... txt) because Kindle can directly display txt and pdf, in addition to mobi/prc/azw. But moving the content from PC to kindle involves USB cable. So I really would like a way to move content from PC to kindle wirelessly (e.g. bluetooth). As it is the most immediate flow from content to eReader is either:
-kindlestore or MagicGutenberg catalog: browse, then click for wireless download
-webpage links to TXT, AZW (or mobi, or prc), or PDF content: dialogue box asks, "do you want to download"
A close second-best is the paid (using 3G towers) or free (using the wifi connectivity on kindle) wireless delivery: just send the document with the subject line "convert" (for supported filetypes other than azw, txt, pdf; such as, RTF, DOC, HTML, or the various image files - jpg, gif, png). But if you don't want the instant response of paid-delivery, then there will be a gap between sending the file (for conversion and/or delivery) and actually having the content aboard the device. These intervening steps drag out the process of preparing material to read. That's why I'd like to see a way to highlight Web content and right-click to send the material straight to the kindle queue.
A half-way step could be to use a browsing notetaking program such as Evernote.com and their WebClipper: with all excerpts gathered, Evernote lets you export the batch as HTML which can then go to the kindle using the converter/delivery service at Amazon.
=-=-=-=-= Two recent finds
1) http://kinstant.com has optimized hotlinks for kindle-based browsing
2) http://www.edukindle.com/downloads/kindlepedia/ lets you paste a Wikipedia article (URL) into the service box to produce a self-contained mobi file for download onto the device.


mining the trove of books

I haven't touched the trial subscriptions to blogs, magazines and newspapers at the kindlestore, yet. But I'm about 1/4 of the way through the http://tinyurl.com/gutmagic list of titles hotlinked to *.mobi (kindle readable) formated Project Gutenberg books (including audio books there - many more than I expected; also many foreign language audio & text versions of the books). I browsed the 2,000+ non-fiction titles offered free (always or temporarily) in the kindlestore itself and either downloaded or added to my wishlist for future download.
The nice thing about getting kindlestore titles, free or paid editions, is that the full support comes with it: book highlights, bookmarks, notes will be accessible online at one's kindle account, for example. Other sources I have in mind to glean and load onto the kindle include poems at The Writer's Almanac, the transcript sections of some podcasts, and the transcript sections that accompany PBS content. The simple way to do this (unless already usable in PDF, presented for download "as is") is to use Evernote.com to accumulate selected passages of text and then export all those evernote entries as a single HTML document that can in turn be sent via email with the Amazon convert service.


eBook reading portability - The Leveler of Context?

Sven Birkert's article (3/2009) highlights the character, structuring framework and losses when shifting from paper to e-Ink reading, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/03/resisting-the-kindle/7345/

Turning up a quote by tapping a keyboard is not the same as, say, going to Bartlett’s—it short-circuits all contact with the contextual order that books represent. As I see it, the Kindle ethos—offering print by subscription, arriving from a vast, undifferentiated cyber-emporium out there—abets the decimation of context.

On reflection, I see three different categories of content and use in my reading & curating of content to my device:
  1. Ephemera put aboard for easier reading and markup than LCD onscreen reading: personal documents, web content from single source or compilation of multiple excerpts. As well, the subscriptions to blog, newspaper or magazine flow in & out (expire). They are not part of the kindle "bookshelf" or collections on the device.
  2. Long Tail of public domain, older works (e.g. via project Gutenberg.org). Here I browsed for early travel narratives, memoirs and life experiences of people now long gone.
  3. Current titles and backlist of books and periodicals for sale.

As a working method, I can envision a year from now storing unread content (type 1, 2, 3 above), but shifting materials that I have read and annotated to a backup medium like CD-r or DVD-r/w (unless it is a reference title or one that I want to return to again and again). That way the device will be a living "ecosystem" with old material removed to make room for fresh content. As such, I'll need to prune like an active and interested gardener.


producing short PHOTO essays for kindle users

Here comes an empirical question of workflow and filesize: how best to share a dozen or two images with captions so that kindle users can take these along to see (and perhaps annotate from the text).

a) Author in MS-Word then convert to AZW
b) Author in MS-Word but set paper size to 600x800 pixels (kindle screen). "Print" as PDF
c) Author in PowerPoint (insert >image >new album with text). Convert to mobi (mobi creator)
d) Author in PowerPoint. "Save as..." PDF
e) Author in PowerPoint. "Save as..." JPG (each slide and its text is one image in a folder)
f) Use Picasa3, add caption, "Print" as PDF (set to display caption; papersize 600x800 pixels)

The test file was 1200kb with the 4 images and accompanying lines of caption text.


(keeping files in color, eventhough kindle displays 16 shades of grayscale)

a) *.doc =1200kb. Convert to AZW (not yet attempted)
b) *.doc to "Print" as PDF =572kb
c) *.ppt =1300kb. Convert to mobi (mobi creator -not yet attempted)
d) *.ppt to "Save as..." PDF =450kb
e) *.ppt to "Save as..." JPG =302kb
f) "Print" the photos with text to PDF =137kb (at 300 dpi)


Authoring for PDF finished form has advantages: kindle can read this without conversion, formating can be controlled, the file on the kindle can later be copied to a computer and be used there as well (colors intact, despite kindle's grayscale display). Tools for PDF on kindle include "place cursor in document" so that a person can add highlight and/or notations.

Among the PDF output examples, Picasa caption line allows only 70-80 words; PowerPoint has limited text space, but a separate (text only) slide can be interspersed otherwise. The wordprocessor handles extended text the best, though. So the specific mix of words and images will determine the best authoring software to begin with.

The path of least resistence is: edit the images in Picasa, then output to PDF and load onto kindle. Done.

gathering web content onto Kindle

1. Easiest is wireless delivery of paid or free content (e.g. direct from kindle store or by downloading the Project Gutenberg catalogue to the kindle for browsing and direct downloading). Click and text arrives ready to read.

2. Next easiest is to take existing content and converting it to display on kindle as PDF, TXT, image files, or kindle format (azw, azw1, prc, mobi).

3. More steps involved to arrive at final text on kindle is to collect web clippings (select text to excerpt). For users of the Firefox browswer there is Zotero for collecting various web sections for later use. For several operating systems and browsers there is Evernote and its web clipper tool: select chunk of webpage, then right-click to send to this online personal filing cabinet. Then select all the segments saved to Evernote for Export (and putting onto kindle in a big batch).

4. Most time intensive of all is to select >copy >paste to a word processing file and saving as a collection of excerpts.

5. In some cases you can reply on a webcapture program used for offline reading of a webpage and/or selected subordinate webpages linked from the main page. The full version of Adobe Acrobat includes this feature and preserves the hotlink functionality when producing a batch of PDFs from the targeted URL. If the result is mostly text, then kindle does all right with its native PDF viewer. But if the format is cluttered, then it may work better to convert the set of PDF pages into kindle (azw) format instead.

Alternatively, programs like Readability, are designed to streamline a cluttered website for easier text engagement. By filtering out the clutter first, then a webcaptured set of PDF pages can be an effective way to harvest a bunch of writing with the touch of a button (entering the target URL for capturing, along with the number of levels beneath that page for appending to the targeted webpage).

publishing Kindle content - workflow

The experimental browser on the kindle allows certain file-types to be downloaded when you click the file link on a website. These include AZW (and azw1; topaz), of course; but also PRC and MOBI (which is the basis for azw) that Palm OS devices would use on their eReader software. There is also TXT and PDF. So in principle, a webpage could include a hotlink to any of these file-types and the kindle browser would respond to your click with "do you want to download this file now"?
Formatting is preserved with PDF and AZW (prc, mobi). Hotlinks can be conveyed in PDF, depending on the author's settings. They also function all right in AZW (prc, mobi). TXT is just the keystrokes, but kindle still allows commenting and bookmarking, as well as adjustment of the display text size.


webcontent to kindle

Here are my working methods so far:
a) Webclipper tool of http://www.evernote.com allows me to select text, right-click (when installed with IE browser; but Chrome, firefox, safari are supported, too; zotero for firefox has a similar tool) and choose "send to evernote." After I have collected a bunch of items as individual entries there, then I use File >Export as... html (to preserve hotlinks).
That batch of saved excerpts is now a single file that can go to Kindle via the free "convert" email service at Amazon, or using a program like Calibre or Mobipocket in order to make the kindle conversion to *.azw
b) Instapaper.com allows chunks of text to be sent via email to the free account you register. Alternatively, the button that can be installed on the "favorites" bar in the IE browser will send the webpage you are viewing in its entirety. Once you've gathered all the webcontent via email segments or bundle of full webpages, it is possible to put the result onto kindle for reading and annotating.
c) An ideal productivity tool would work with a wordprocessor like MS-Word to allow selection such as Evernote (above), except that excerpts get appended to a running Word document which can be saved in HTML or DOC to convey hotlinks. That saves the "export as..." step.
d) The most tedious way is to select >copy >paste excerpts into a wordprocessing document.
e) A small improvement on manually copy+paste is to use a webcapture tool like the one included in the full (paid) version of Adobe Acrobat: capture 1 or 2 levels of the homepage content as PDF with all links intact. Then export as HTML (or considering kindle's native PDF reading, just load the PDF "as is"). For full kindle functionality (text to speech, for example), though, the PDF can be sent to Amazon for free conversion & delivery as *.azw, though.
In addition, one blog writer recommended linkage between one's Twitter account and Evernote. That way selections from kindle can be "tweeted" to the Twitter list and simultaneously be added to one's Evernote account for each editing, exporting and so forth.

carrying along maps

Here's what I have settled on for maps of my own capturing:

1 follow the instructions about making a folder called "photos" (I think it was on kindleworld.blogspot)

2 each set of images gets its own subfolder there (displayed in kindle Home screen as a "book title")

3 while you can conserve kindle space by resizing to 800x600 pixels, I haven't done this unless the source image is multi-megapixel.

4 an advantage of keeping the loaded JPG map images in their full color form is that you could plug in USB kindle to friends' PC and copy the color file to them (even though kindle shows you grayscale only on the e-ink screen)

5 an alternative could be to "print to PDF" the images, one per page; then use kindle's PDF viewer. Alternatively, dropping them into a Word Doc allows you to use the amazon convert service and get a AZW fomated file back Remember that kindle does come with a crude image viewer for sets of JPG, like these maps: rotate, zoom in, for example.

Often I have used maps.yahoo.com (but I like maps.google.com for the Japanese text)


datum - kindles in the wild

The ethnographic observer in me noted 3 kindle sightings while flying Lansing, MI - ORD (Chicago) - MSY (New Orleans) last week.
I wonder how many others see them in use? The phenomenon of kindle reading in public is bound to grow these next years.
Besides the gate area at ORD, I saw two others:
Academic conference at the NoLA sheraton (kindle dx)
Seatmate en route MSY - ORD (kindle 2)


convenience for more than published books?

I have yet to try the subscriber services at the kindle store (blogs, magazines), but imagine they lend the same ease of delivery that the bookstore listings allow. Putting personal documents requires few steps, too (convert file if needed then wireless delivery at nominal cost on 3G or free on wifi; or manually copy to Kindle via USB connection to PC).

But how could scholarly or specialist journals get to one's Kindle? First thoughts follow, along with ideas from last week's exchange with the coordinator for the weekly JapanFocus.org

1. Readers can transfer the articles manually: select which pieces or excerpts desired from a given week's set of articles. Then convert the HTML, RTF or DOC for use on Kindle (so as to preserve images and hotlinks), save context in TXT (for reading "as is" on Kindle), or print the selections as PDF (for reading "as is" on Kindle).

2. Readers can select a prepared Kindle file of that week's articles (editors set up the AZW file as one of the download options at the journal's website) for readers to load onto their device.

3. Readers can subscribe (e.g. $4.99 per month, if set up on the kindle store as a periodical service) for wireless delivery (nominal fee built into subscriber cost; or if not, then the reader can avoid the wireless delivery cost by receiving via wifi connection only). Alternatively the reader could buy specific products, thus paying for the convenience and visibility of the work online at the store. Examples could be things such as individual articles (99 cents), or thematic bundles of 10-15 articles from back issues (9.99). In this case the buyer enjoys the convenience of wireless delivery and the gathering of relevant materials.

Let's watch for editors and writers who venture into this arena of wireless publishing!

the virtues of TXT (plain text)

I am looking at the flow from source (online, email inbox, personal documents, Gutenberg.org and gutenberg.net.au ) to Kindle; and from Kindle to colleagues (sharing the whole file, or sharing excerpts); and from Kindle back to PC for editing (correction, adding, repurposing to blog or wiki or email).

Kindle can natively display, search and annotate PDF, TXT and the Kindle format (azw, azw1, mobi, prc). The working principle is to minimize steps between getting the content and using it, so the materials of these filetypes are most convenient. But of them, TXT may be best since it displays well, allows the above Kindle tools and later can be copied, moved or edited on computer. By contrast, PDF and AZW is less readily edited on computer.

The option of converting (the free service via email to one's kindle account) from DOC, RTF or HTML is good when you need to preserve hotlinks, images, and formatting. But for text-centric materials, it seems that TXT is the best coin of the realm for easy circulation between Web, computer and Kindle, and back again.


books to read - sample titles

as seen at http://freekindlebooks.org [cf. the searchbox at http://inkmesh.com ]

NEWS FLASH: Project Gutenberg has just started directly supporting Kindle-Compatible MOBI-format E-Books! (Also EPUB Format) In order to download any of these 29,000 free E-Books directly to your Kindle or other E-Book Reader download our Free

Magic Catalog of Project Gutenberg E-Books

If no size is given for a file, you may download it directly to Kindle. If a size is given (X Megs) please download these Free Books first to your computer desktop and then from there to your Kindle -- it will probably not work otherwise! (The large files include illustrations.)

Religious Books (see also: Bibles, below) | Experimental (PG list by number)
G. K. Chesterton
James Fenimore Cooper
Charles Darwin
Elizabeth Gaskell
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Rudyard Kipling
D.H. Lawrence
Sinclair Lewis
Jack London
Martin Luther
Karl Marx
Herman Melville
Upton Sinclair
Henry David Thoreau
Sojourner Truth
Mark Twain
Lao Tzu