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Chapter 20: readers saving trees

Jul 28 • Uncategorized • 3020 Views • 3 Comments on Chapter 20: readers saving trees

Mossy tree stumps

The books you read used to be trees. The remains are now phantasmagorical creatures of the wilderness (fragment, click to see complete).

 

If you want to know what this blog is about

 This is not a post about nature

 

And then maybe it is. This is a blog about a passion, reading, and a wonderful tool to practice it, e-book readers. I started reading when I was 9 or 10, do not remember, with Michael Ende’s Jim Button and Luke the engine driver. Then I met Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, and from there I cannot follow the trend because it just burst like fireworks. I have read in many directions, SF, terror and Fantasy in my teenage and university years, then I jumped to historical novel, and then to non-fiction. I never quit reading those old genres, but they became more scarce inside a wider theme population. I have discovered one wonderful fact about me: I do not care what the book is about as much as how it is told. Some authors can write wonders around a cow turd and others can bore you to sleep in their telling of the most epic battle of all times. For me, it is not the story anymore. It’s the teller. Well, the story too, but you get what I mean.

I started reading on screens in 2005, out of necessity. I did not live in a big city where the book offer is ample, and Amazon was not so hot with shipping costs then, so I had to pay twice for each book I read. Considering I used to read one book a week, you can imagine. In 2005 I got my first PDA, a Dell Axim X-50V. I bought it for work and as a GPS navigator, but in no time I was reading books there in plain txt like crazy. In 2008 I got my first reader, a Sony PRS-505, and quit buying paper novels for good.

People talk about the smell of books, the tact, the pleasure of having a shelf full of books you love. There are many people who think e-book readers are just not for them. I am going to give them some reasons to think again…

 

The readers’ revolution

Well, I love the way old books smell. I love the tact of  the pages of cheap paperbacks. I have quite a few shelves crammed with books. However, that has nothing to do with reading. What makes my reading experience better depends in other facts which are purely objective, font (letter) type and size, text edition, weight and availability.

 

prs-t1 reader bookchair

My reader in my last reading book-chair and the older prototype. I will post about it one of these days…

You see, with an e-book reader you can choose the font type you want and the size of this  font. Maybe you never stopped to think you could actually choose this things, but now you can. Only this fact is just enough for me, but there are many others.

Even when using big fonts, you can read The Pillars of Earth or the Silmarillion or the Holly Bible single-handed. My reader weights 170 grams.

Those 170 grams can hold literally thousands of books. mine only holds about 100. That means I take 100 books wherever I go. All genres, all themes. You always have a next book to read. You can read three at a time, a novel, a couple of non-fictions, you carry with yourself and that will open in the last page you read. The unexpected effect, already proven by experience is that people using e-book readers read more than they did with paper books. Everybody reads more than before. And this is not an initial fading effect. It is just always easier to read and all your books are always within comfortable reach. You just end up reading more in more occasions.

You can turn your pages with a soft touch, can recall the dictionary, explanatory or for translation, by pressing a word. You can highlight, bookmark, write comments, manage all this in your PC or share it with friends… but wait, it gets better. Because e-book readers are actually life changing devices.

 

Recovering a passion

 

My aunt died one year ago yesterday. She was 89. She had been a reader all her life and quit some six years ago. She just said she didn’t find it entertaining anymore. I didn’t give it a second thought at the time, but when I got my first reader I showed her. I use a 13 pt Futura font for reading, which is far bigger than the standard font in any book (I will tell you why in another post because my sight is actually pretty sharp. My aunt was taken aback and so was I. The truth she had kept to herself was she could not see the small letters on books properly anymore, so she had gradually given up reading. I changed the settings with two clicks and got the fonts even bigger. She was so excited. I was so happy and sad at the same time. I should have known. I could have printed books on paper for her with bigger fonts sizes. But suddenly a world lost was alive for her again. It was such a moving moment.

I got her her own reader in a few days, made a custom skin with a picture of all her grand-nephews for the backside and crammed it with books she wanted to read or that I thought she might like. Books like The Physician, To Kill a mockingbird, The Tree of Gernika, Guns Germs and Steel. She devoured them. Those are mostly big fat books, some of them complex, and she was asking me for more all the time. She had missed it so. And the e-book reader let her recover her passion. I repeated the experience with my mother, who managed to read small books, but could not hold heavy ones because her wrists hurt. Different reasons, same result. My mother still reads in her old 505 every day. Doesn’t even want to get one of the newer touch screen readers with illumination. She keeps her sister’s old reader too, just in case hers fails. I get her magazine full with fresh ammo every now and then so her problem is excess of choice 🙂

 

Some of my best friends

 

There are quite a few books I love, some I have reread, and a few I revisit every five-ten years. Those are my friends. My best friend ever is Captain Jack Aubrey, from O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin saga (You seen Master & Commander? You know nothing). Another one would be John Blackthorne, from Shogun, Tlilectic Mixtli, from Aztec, R. P. McMurphy (another McMurphy I truly love is Colleen, from China Beach, but that belongs to another post also), from the Cuckoo’s nest (him I do not visit much for it hurts), Rob, J. Cole, from The Physician, Felix, from Armor, Logen Ninefingers, from The First Law (have not revisited him yet, but I will)…

Other wonderful novels I love… hate this because I always forget some and I cannot help a sense of betrayal… Flowers for Algernon (to read once in a lifetime), Life of Pi, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hyperion, Dune,Foundation, It, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Cryptonomicon, Gates of Fire, The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy, World War Z, Love in the times of Cholera, The Journeyer, Watchers, The Religion, White Fang, I am Legend, Africanus, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit

 

Smaug fractal

Smaug, from The Hobbit, a book in many ways much more beautiful than the Lord of the Rings (click to see more fractals).

 

Non fiction is more related to personal interests… Guns, Germs and Steel is an eye-opening Pulitzer I cannot recommend enough, Band of Brothers, The chosen Species, With the Old Breed (so sincere, humble and moving), The Basque History of the World (exaggerated, but lovely), Stay Alive, my Son, Shit my Dad Says (so funny),Kitchen Confidential, The Easy way to stop Smoking (finished reading it on 9/8/11, smoked my last two cigarettes right after and not once again until today, so it is maybe the most important book I ever read), Surely you’re Joking Mr. Feynman, A Higher Call, the 900 Days, Stalingrad, A Distant Mirror, Remember Pearl Harbor, The Innocent anthropologist (hilarious), The Shadow of the Sun… there are a few more about caves and paleo-anthropology I consider magnificent, but they are maybe to specific.

 

Dog Tags Fractal

With the Old Breed, a Higher call, Band of Brothers, the 900 days, Remember Pearl Harbor… trying to understand recent history and wars (click to enlarge).

 

All those books were wonderful readings for me. Most of them can be purchased cheap in e-book format from many different stores.

A journey of no return

 

I have not read a novel in paper since 2005. I pick my non-fiction from Amazon depending on availability. I am now reading The Mind in the cave, non-fiction about cave paintings. Just fascinating. I went a little farther. Became picky along the way so I edit all the books I read almost from scratch. In fact I buy AZW from Amazon and turn them to PDF after I have fully re-edited them with Word. Apart from using my own font and font size, I edit margins, paragraphs, hyphenation, chapter titles, header, notes, cover… All the books I read are edited 100% to my own personal liking. Some books are a matter of minutes. Some non-fictions take a while, particularly those with images. Most people however do not need to do that. They buy an e-book from some store via wi-fi, open it, select font and size and are ready to go. A matter of minutes.

There is no way I am going to read another book in paper. Most people I know who read habitually have purchased one of this gadgets. You might have an Ipad or some other sort of fancy tablet, but if you read more than a few pages a day you will want one of those wonderful e-ink screens. If you are feeling nostalgic, you can insert a couple or three pages form an old book in the cover sleeve, so you can smell and touch them. You do not need to get rid of your book ridden shelves, but, if you read a couple of books on an e-book reader, you will not go back.

And, if you read more than 40 books or so with each device you get, you will actually save some trees.

 

Marsoulas bisons and horse

Cave art, something I love to read about and to visit (click for more cave art and dinosaurs).

 

 

About the Pictures

 

The picture of the mossy creatures of the beech forest is an HDR composed with 7 images I shot pretty near my house. It is a magic place, a mountainside facing north that does not get much sunlight. Hence the moss. Smaug is a HDR of a papier-mache figure I made some years ago. The base was made with cork. I made the HDR and then added a soft fractal touch. The dog tags are one of my oldest photos, it belongs to my first film roll, shot in 89. The tags belonged to my brother-in-law. The name and SS number are changed, of course. I added a slight fractal effect, but the straight version of the ISO 400 BW film HD scan is also available here. The Last picture is a single shot. All of them have contrast and detail enhancing processes to get them just so. You can find lots of images like these in my galleries.

This pictures can be printed in photo paper, canvas, metal or acrylic surface from 8″ up to 48″ in some cases,  or in greeting card format. You can check them by clicking the images above. I am all in for customizing pictures. All of them can be retouched in many ways, texts added, altered, changed or deleted. Ask freely.

 

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3 Responses to Chapter 20: readers saving trees

  1. […] I wanted it in my pictures, so I sat outside my Two Seconds tent to make time, reading from my e-book reader and sipping an iced coffee.  A little later, when the moon was eavesdropping through the pines, I […]

  2. Lois Bryan says:

    Truly enjoyed your post … we share many best friends in common. When I discovered The Master And Commander series several summers ago, I didn’t rest until I’d ready every single book, one right after the other, until I was finished. I even got O’Brian’s biography and his unfinished novel.

    And oh “Shogun” … such promise that one showed!!! I was progressively more and more disappointed in Clavell’s succeeding stories. But I’ve read Shogun many times … funny how it changes over the years.

    And you’ve read The Silmarillion … I haven’t gotten to that one yet … how did you like it??

    And I so understand your not wanting to re read some .. I’m that way with The Green Mile. One of the best books I’ve ever read, but I’ll probably never read it again … hurt too much.

    As to best friends, you didn’t mention Jane Austen. I can only assume that’s a gender thing … I’m sorry for you!!!

    You make a great case for the electronic readers. I’m still a paper-gal … don’t know if I’ll ever make the leap as a great deal of my reading takes place in a steaming hot tub late at night .. in which I frequently fall asleep. I’d prefer death by drowning than electrocution. heh.

    Thanks for the ideas on other stores … I’ve missed several you mentioned.

    • Well, I could be talking about Lucky Jack for ages. It would need a blog post for himself. It is not just the way O’Brian depicted life and war at sea, it is the way you pick a young foolish Lieutenant Aubrey and you read through most of his life, see him evolve, grow up… I always slow down by the time I reach book 16 because I feel I am running out and don’t want to. I won’t even start about Maturin, either. 🙂

      Nothing from Clavell was even close to Shogun in my opinion. I only enjoyed King Rat, actually. The rest is perfectly forgettable.

      No, I did not read the Silmarillion and do not plan to. I love fantasy, but not that that much. 🙂

      Have not read the Green Mile, yet, but I will. The movie is so cool and tender. I read Rita Hayworth… after watching Shawshank and loved it.

      Jane Austen and gender… I have seen some movies from her books and I like the time, but not so much the focus on the behavior of the time. Not so interested. However, you raise an issue I talked with some friends some time ago about reading and gender and there is something to it. I do not read much written by women, and not for lack of trying, but for lack of the right connection. My friends were outraged until they recounted the books they had read from women and discovered the proportion was far from balanced. I loved the Cave Bear clan by Auel, but hated the rest, which is not much more than a cheesy romantic waste of time (my opinion) with Ayla making all sort of epic breakthroughs in the meantime. I love the Mockingbird but she wrote no more, I have read some Pearl S. Buck, I like U.K. Leguin, but not Ann Rice, Susanna Clarke or Diana Gabaldon and the like. Since I have the e-book reader I do not follow what used to be a golden rule about finishing books I started. I geve them a fair chance and if they do not catch me I move on. Life is too short to waste time in bad books. Too many good ones we are going to miss anyway. So I discard many books. Again, the proportion is unbalanced in gender. Last I read (finished last week) was The Shipping News, and I happened to like the movie better (very rare event). However, I keep trying because I think I am the one missing some sort of piece.

      I think women go one step beyond both in the use of language and in the treatment of feelings and, while I am able to go there, it is not often that it works for me the right way. I guess the line that separates sensitivity from cheesiness is really narrow and personal and I am not that sensitive in that direction.

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