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)