Monday, March 08, 2010

Pleasures of E-Books

I always love an event that features free stuff and sales, so I took notice of Read an E-Book Week (March 7-13). Their website features a list of authors, publishers, and ebook stores giving away free ebooks or slashing prices. The E-book promotion site says of their event:

Read an E-Book Week educates and informs the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide are welcome to join in the effort. We encourage you to promote electronic reading with any event....

This week, I'm reading Anthony Trollope's Can You Forgive Her?, which I got from my beloved Project Gutenberg. I'm reading it on my Astak Reader, where I've also downloaded all 69 files they have of his, including 47 novels, some short writings, and his Autobiography.

If I were reading my first Trollope novel in the usual way, either from a library or from a second-hand book dealer, I'd be reading whichever novel I happened to find. This way, I was able to pick the one that seemed the most engaging for me, and I am able to read the Autobiography alongside it. In fact, my local library has none of his books, and my second-hand paperback copy of Barchester Towers is falling apart and features type too small to read except in very good light.

I'm not saying that ebooks have no drawbacks. So far, I haven't been able to find a well-formatted poetry book. (I'm using Tennyson and Whitman as my test cases.) Also, I have no truck with Digital Rights Management (DRM), so that means I won't be buying many ebooks in the near future. Still, access to "The Complete Works of" so many out-of-copyright authors is a real treat for me. When I enjoy a work of fiction, I immediately want to know what else that author has done.

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