Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Read any good e-books lately?

(This post has been sitting quietly in my Drafts section for quite some time. Due to lack of time and ideas, I've decided to finally publish it and share with you some of my views. The information contained in it may not the latest and for that I apologise. I hope you will gain something useful from it.)

I love paper. The sight, the touch and even the smell of it. There's nothing like the sight of rows and rows of neatly shelved books in a library or a bookstore. Or the feeling of flipping through a thick paperback book with your thumb. Or the smell of a book that has just been taken out of its plastic wrap (but that's mostly the chemicals used to make the plastic wrap and the book I guess).

Thank you, God, for the gift of paper.

In this day of 'e-this' and 'e-that', e-books are fast becoming common. Aside from the physical, paper-based books, readers now have the option of reading books and other text material in a virtual, 'electronic' form. A convenience for those with computers or electronics devices like a PDA, but not so much for the rest of the people.

I used to have a brilliant, soft-spoken but highly engaging researcher as a lecturer. At the end of a chapter that he finished covering, he would upload two sets of PDF (portable document format) files containing his lecture slides. One would contain one slide per page and the other six per page. He told us that the first one is meant to make it easier for our eyes, and the other one is meant to make it easier on the trees.

I think, in the beginning, e-books was meant to reduce the use of paper and chopping down of trees. A noble intention, but people like me are a stubborn bunch. We still want our paper. We want to see it, touch it, hold it, feel it and smell it. Especially those free perfume samples in magazines.

But we're not an entirely closed-minded crowd. E-books are a good way to spread the written word. Some books, especially the ones on programming, often come with a CD that also carries the entire book's content in PDF. We love e-books too. But not as much since we can't actually get sample perfume from e-magazines.

Just a few pickings

Over the last several months, I've amassed a small collection of e-books that are of interest to me. It started with an article I read about Project Guttenberg, an online reservior of literature classics that are now part of the public domain. I downloaded Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, but its length is the reason why I haven't started reading it yet.

I don't know if you'd be interested in reading them or not but I'm sharing them in case you anybody who would be. Some of these books are downloable for free and some of them are licensed under the Creative Commons deed, just like this blog. Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:

Depression : A Primer
by Ellen
A light-hearted and humorous look at depression, and ways to beat off the blues. From the author of The Reign of Ellen.
[ Get it!/Read it! ]

How To Manage Smart People
by Scott Berkun
After spending nine years at Microsoft managing some of the smartest people in the world, Scott has a few tips to share on the art of managing the best.
[ Get it!/Read it! ]

Free Software for Busy People
by Mohammad Al-Ubaydli
Can free software work for you? Yes it can, according to this Bahraini doctor, who believes in the untapped potential of affordable technology. Even if you're not a busy person.
[ Get it!/Read it! ]

Down and Out the Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow
Life, death, immortality...and Disneyland?!! Cory Doctorow is one of the rising stars of sci-fi as well as the European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who not only sells the books he wrote but also gives them away for free in electronic form. He was in Singapore not long ago to give a talk on "Copyright and the future of media".
[ Get it!/Read it! ]

Palin's Travels
by Micheal Palin
In the land of celebrity hosted travel shows go, Micheal Palin is the king. No celebrity is more enthusiastic about setting foot in strange, foreign lands like he is. As a former cast member of Monty Phyton, Palin mixes humour, wanderlust and genuine curiosity to bring the world some of the best shows and books on exotic travel ever made. Some of his books are available for you to read on his website, or better yet, grab a copy from the local bookstore.
[ Get it!/Read it! ]


Anonymous said...

In the efforts to save the trees, go paperless in whatever you do. Try not to print anything unless it's a must or the final submission of paper. Or better still, suggest to your lecturers to accept ur assignments in soft copy.
To draft in a rough paper, pls,pls, and pls recycle..! You'll make the difference 'though others are not doing it...!

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