Sunday, February 10, 2013

ebooks and ebook readers

My Kindle 3 finally croaked, after about three years. The Kindle was my constant companion, always in my purse for a subway ride or a wait at a doctor's office. And if I finished a book in mid-trip, there was always another one.

What's been tiding me over for the past week or so is an app called Cool Reader that I downloaded to my smartphone. Cool Reader has the benefit of reading both epub (Nook) and mobi (Kindle) formats.

It's probably no great secret that like movies and music, I download a lot of ebooks without paying for them. I've only hinted at it in this blog, because I find it a little embarrassing and am afraid of being judged harshly. Plus, it's not legal. But I don't begin to have the means to feed my book, music and movie habits, and libraries very often don't have what I want, except for books; I do occasionally reserve new books, though I confess I hate lugging around a hardcover after mostly using my ultra-light Kindle.

Amazon offered me discounts on a couple of refurbed Kindle Touches, both discontinued models with ads, for $74 and $104.

I figured that if I was going to spend that kind of money, maybe I should do more investigating and shopping.

I started to think about tablets - in particular, about getting an Android tablet onto which I could download Cool Reader. The Nexus 7 sounded really good, but a lot of users complained about the easily cracked screen.

Then I realized that I really don't need most of what a tablet offers. I don't really need a device to web-browse or send email; I can do it with my phone, although frankly the time I would want to use it is on the subway, which is a no-go. I have computer access at home and at work, and that seems to be plenty.

What I really wanted was something to read books and maybe watch movies - something for subway rides, bus trips, train trips, and waiting rooms. So, back to ebook readers.

Ebay had a lot of used Kindle readers, the plain-jane kind I had and the Touch, for very cheap prices. But then I was stuck with the epub/mobi problem. I've made some use of this online converter for epub to mobi, but it only converts one book at a time. So I took another look at Calibre. I had downloaded it some time ago, found it a hassle, and removed it. But it now seems a lot more powerful and user-friendly. It also will download and convert newspapers and magazines, which made me think again about getting a color device.

I looked into the movie formats the Kindle Fire plays, which is basically one proprietary software (V8 or something), and mp4. Most of my movies are in avi. But that online converter will convert video to mp4.

So I believe the solution is going to be a used Kindle Fire, Calibre, and the online converter for movies. Friday is payday. I had allocated $200 for a new reader, which will be way more than I need for a used first-gen Fire. Any excess money will most likely go to some new cologne, since I am entirely out of any of the good brands I like to wear (Bellodgia, Coco, Mitsouko, Rush). And maybe, you know, some makeup and nail polish. I love stretching a buck for everyday luxuries.

And for those of you who also enjoy stretching a buck, the bittorrent client I use to keep myself fully stocked in entertainment material is Vuze. Some of the bittorrent tech is over my head, but I've managed to figure out how to do what I need - well, want - to do.

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