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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1/4/2011 - Plot holders

Okay, I know what you're probably thinking: "Holy crap! The guy goes off on a sailing adventure to Mexico, he hasn't written anything since New Year's Eve and the best he can come up with is a blog about POT HOLDERS???? And he can't even spell it right in the title??? WTF??? I don't care if Lulu did crochet them, they're still POT HOLDERS!" Pretty close to what's going through your mind? Well, who could blame you? Oh ye of little faith.

No, I didn't misspell "pot holder". I meant "plot holder". These nifty little crocheted gizmos are actually protective sleeves for our Christmas present to each other:

We bought ourselves Kindle e-readers. We save room on board by keeping our music collection on an iPod, our movies on several mini hard drives and now, our books on the Kindles. Although I'd read about e-readers, I wasn't really convinced at first. As an inveterate reader, I just couldn't imagine giving up the feel of reading an actual printed book. And besides, with so many books available for trade at every cruisers' lounge or marina laundry room we'll ever happen across, why would I want to have to buy e-books, even if they are a fraction of the cost of a new "real" book?

Well, first off, we still have books on board and probably always will. There are certain reference books that are not available for the Kindle and others that I just feel better being able to leaf through. If I'm working on my engine, I want the full-size drawings readily available, not some reduced size one that keeps jumping to a screen saver if I don't hit a button with my greasy paws once in awhile. Also, we have lots of books on board that we haven't read that we either brought from home or got in the aforementioned cruisers' book exchanges. Most of these are adventure/crime/mystery/serial killer type books that I would not bother replacing unless it was for free.

We have 2 bookshelves like this as well as another one over my bunk and then more books stowed in several other places around the boat. Lots of books but no room for any more. That represents a lot of storage space taken up as well as a lot of weight. As we work our way through these throwaway books, we likely won't replace them but will rather move the keeper books from the more inaccessible areas out to the main bookshelves, freeing up some storage space elsewhere.

Here are some of the things that helped us make a decision to buy e-readers and specifically Kindle e-readers:

- Depending on size, you can store something like 2500 books on one. To give you some perspective, here's the cruisers' exchange book case at Costa Baja Marina:

A quick count tells me that there are about 50 books per shelf. There are 7 shelves so we're looking at about 350 books. It would take 7 book cases this size to hold what 1 Kindle can hold. That means that if you have an electronic version of a book you love, you no longer have to get rid of it when you're finished reading it. You can also load up on books that you think you may like to read someday.

- Amazon maintains a file of all the books you purchase through them. Run out of space on your Kindle? No problem. Just dump some of your books knowing that you can go back to Amazon and reload them at a later date if you want.

- The Kindle has 2 on-board libraries. Oftentimes I'll be reading a book and come across a word that I'm unfamiliar with. If I'm laying in bed reading, it's unlikely that I'll get up to go get the dictionary to look the word up. Matter of fact, no matter if I'm in bed or not, if I'm comfortable, I'll probably skip dragging the dictionary out and just hope I sort of get the meaning of the word by the context in which it's used. On the Kindle I can just run the cursor down to the word and the definition pops right up. Hit the "back" button and it disappears and I'm back to my book.

-The Kindle is really easy to read. The screen can be read comfortably even in direct sunlight and the type size can be made any size I might happen to find comfortable. It's extremely lightweight and small (less than 1/2 the size of your laptop monitor and only about 3/8" thick). Page turning is done by clicking a button on either side of the screen.

- When you finish reading, you just shut her down. Next time you open it up, you're taken right back to where you left off.

- There is a ton of free stuff available for the Kindle as well as all the other brands of e-readers. Anything in the public domain which has been put into either a Kindle (.azw) format or a PDF format is generally available for free right from Amazon. Saturday morning, it being a bit cool and blustery here, I spent a few hours downloading books from Amazon's collection of freebies. There were something like 12,000 titles available. I downloaded around 120 of them. The authors included such venerable old-timers as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, L. Frank Baum, Max Brand, Lewis Carroll, Joseph Conrad, James Fennimore Cooper, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. A lot of the books by these authors I've long wanted to read but I wasn't sure that I would like them enough to shell out money for hard copies. Not to mention the space they'd take up. Now I can try them out as well as have their entire collections if it turns out I like them. I took about 5 lbs of books off the boat the other day: Count of Monte Christo, Three Musketeers, The Man in The Iron Mask, and Moby Dick. Then I downloaded the electronic versions for free. Besides the old-time authors, there are frequently books by contemporary authors offered for free for a limited time. There are several blogs that track these offers and let us know about them. Granted, the authors are often unknown but even Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and John Grisham had to start sometime. Who knows what I may happen across?

- It's small and easy to take with me. Yesterday while Lulu was at the doctor's office getting a little growth burned off her ear*, I was in the waiting room happily trekking through the African plains with Alan Quatermain and company as they searched for the fabled King Soloman's Mine.

- You can even download games (Solitaire, Sudoku, Scrabble, to name a few) to while away your hours.

Why did I choose Amazon's Kindle over the other e-readers available? Well, first of, it's all very confusing when you start comparing specs. But, I figured that Amazon is, like, the biggest book distributor in the universe so whatever I was looking for was more than likely going to be available through them. My only other criteria was that it be able to read and store PDF files, which it can. The new wifi (non 3G) version was also very attractively priced.

For a much more thought-out review of e-readers, see Greg & Jill Deselynski's report.

So, there you have it. And, as an added bonus, in a pinch we could use the protective sleeves Lulu crocheted for the Kindles as POT holders.

*About Lulu's ear: see the next blog.


Lotten said...

I'm glad to read, that you're happy with your Kindles. I got one this Xmas too, and have only just started filling it. I did quite a bit of research before going for the Kindle, and was also very keen on the e-reader from SONY - but the book prices in Sony-store are higher than Amazon prices, and by now you can find more and more free stuff for the Kindle just as you've been able to for other e-readers for a long time. Even the Gutenberg Project are now making mobi-files (Kindle format). There's more than 29.000 free titles ready for download at gutenberg.org.

2ndreef said...

Hi guys, yup, Robin & I did the kindle thing too, for all of the obvious reasons that you mentioned. Great invention and it has also renewed an interest in reading that I might have otherwise never gone back to. Hope to be reading a book of yours (you & Lulu) on kindle someday. Maybe the next model will come with an optional drink holder, i.e. pacifico? Ha!
Bill & Robin