iPhone Life magazine

It was the best of reads; it was the worst of reads

I haven't had such a horrible reading experience since I think about 1998 or 1999. I had forgotten that it was like trying to wrestle an octopus in the dark. It's better when you have light, lots of light. The worst part is not so much trying to see the blurry, small print on cheap paper as it is trying to keep the page from curving and the whole thing closing and slipping out of your hands--hands because the unpleasant process takes two hands to make it viable. And your arms get tired and maybe cold if you don't have the heat turned up sufficiently.

Of course there's always the problem of losing your place when you set the bloody thing down for a minute. Or it can close on you unexpectedly when you're not paying attention. Forget bookmarks. They fall out, and you have to spend a half hour figuring out where you left off.

 

If the damn thing is borrowed from a friend or a library, you can't make annotations, highlight or draw in it for it would be a cardinal sin. And what if you want to copy a passage and paste it in another document? Fergetaboutit.

 

I have to say I enjoyed the story for it was well crafted and kept me turning the pages, which is another bother that takes some dexterity. Turning pages is like eating potato chips--it's difficult to do just one. Most of the time the pages stuck together, and it was not easy to turn just one, which of course slows down the process and contributes to the unpleasantness of it all.

 

No doubt, you've figured out by now that I'm talking about the torturous ordeal of reading a cursed Treebook. What a shameful waste of paper. May all publishers go bankrupt. We don't need them anymore. They are evil and do not deserve support.

 

To Blazes with Treebook publishers. They are dinosaurs doomed to extinction. Authors should abandon them and make greater profits by self-publishing eBooks and selling them online where they keep the lion's share of the profits instead of giving most of it to the worthless publishers.

 

As an aside, I looked up the paperback Treebook I was reading, it cost $9.99. Yes, it was available on Amazon in eBook format ready for instant download. I didn't have to order it and wait for it to come in the mail and pay postage. I didn't have to drive down to a bookstore, find a parking place, hope the book was in stock and pay taxes on it. BUT, the ebook price was exactly the same as the paperback price. $9.99. Now that's a rip off and that is due to the pure greed of publishers.

 

An eBook costs nothing to produce compared to the cost of paper, ink, machinery, and labor for a Treebook. There is no shipping, no warehousing, no returns and more shipping. So, why do they cost the same? Pure, unadulterated greed. The publishers think they can now, after trying to stop eBooks for years, cash in on the publics' sudden discovery of eBooks. We do not need publishers. They should be taken out of the equation. This is really true too when it comes to textbooks which have always been a robbers roost bilking generations of students.

 

Fortunately, more and more people are beginning to see the light. Amazon, the biggest book seller in the universe is now selling twice the number of eBooks as it sells Treebooks. Praise the Lord. Bookstores are going out of business willy nilly. We don't need them either. I worry a little about the fate of libraries, but most are adapting to the digital age so that you can checkout ebooks and audiobooks online without ever stepping foot in a book museum. (Don't get me wrong, I love libraries and have always been a staunch supporter).

 

When some poor, misguided soul tells me that they love to curl up with a Treebook, you know they really don't know what they're talking about. They all seem to think you have to take a desktop computer to bed with you to read an eBook or sit uncomfortably before one in an office. It's difficult to imagine that there could be such ignorance in this day and age.

 

While I think the first Kindles are equivalent to stone tablets technology-wise compared to what's possible, I have to give them credit for exposing a growing and enthusiastic audience to the wonderful world of eBooks. The old black and white Kindles were definitely a step in the right direction, but they lack so many features that it is almost a joke. For instance, they don't even have a backlight so reading them in bed is impossible without an adequate external light source.

 

However, the new Kindle Fire, has redeemed itself with a color, back-lit screen and an Android operating system that allows you to perform almost any function a computer can perform such as cruising the Internet, emailing, playing games, texting, watching recorded or streamed movies, and a host of other tasks limited mostly by the apps you download into it. You can even listen to music while reading an eBook on one. Try that with a Treebook.

 

True, the new Kindle Fire is not as powerful as a full-scale Android Tablet. For instance, it lacks 3G, it lacks front and rear cameras, it lacks a microphone. It has a scrawny processor with limited memory. But at $199, it's one third of the price of the cheapest iPad, which will certainly sway many folks already loyal to Kindle and Amazon.

 

While Barnes and Noble's Nook eBook reader had the foresight to start with an Android operating system and a back lit color screen, it is still not as full featured as a high end Android Tablet PC, but the price is certainly attractive too when compared to the overpriced iPads. Nooks start at just $99.

 

I am not thrilled with iPads because of the limited memory that cannot be expanded. There are no external ports of any kind for peripheral devices or storage media. Surfing the Web can be frustrating too on an iPad due to its inability to display Flash graphics.

 

If you want a great eBook reader, I would highly recommend a Kindle Fire or Nook. If you want a more powerful Tablet, I would suggest investing a few more bucks and getting a nice Android Tablet. An eBook reader would make a much appreciated Christmas present.

 

But, let's look at other alternatives for reading eBooks that may not cost you anything. If you already have a Smartphone such as an Android, Windows 7 or IOS device, you are in business. You can simply download an eBook reader app for free, Kindle being only one of the many alternatives. There are many places you can download eBooks free on the Web. Most libraries these days allow card holders free downloads too. Naturally, you can buy best sellers online and download them instantly.

 

Laptops and Netbooks also make fine eBook readers. Just download the eBook sofware, grab some eBooks, and away you go.

 

Some people think that reading an entire eBook on a small phone screen is silly. Well, I'm sure these same people are familiar with reading a newspaper and probably even still subscribe to one, which is another artifact of the past. But, reading an eBook on a phone screen is just like reading a newspaper column of print, only better.

 

Why better? It's better because you can change the type size, type style, background color, and type color. It's better because you can highlight text, underline it, copy and paste it. It's better because it's back lit in most cases (except the early Kindles). It's better because you never lose your place. It opens up right where you left off every time. It's better because you can annotate and draw right on the page without destroying the precious eBook. It's better because you can search for any passage or word and retrieve it instantly. It's better because you can annotate, store, index, and retrieve as many bookmarks as you wish. It's better because you can tap on a word, and the definition will pop up on the screen. Try that with your dumb Treebooks.

 

With so many alternatives, why not get started reading eBooks? The pages turn better, and some will even scroll at variable speeds so you never have to turn a page manually I am confident that even the most staunch old fuddy duddy Treebook supporter will have to grudgingly admit that an eBook is the best of reads after all.

 

What's more, Treebooks smell bad and they are fire hazards. How many heavy, space-consuming Treebooks are you willing to take with you on vacation now that airlines are charging for luggage? Ebooks don't weigh anything, and they don't take up any space.

 

Determined to finish, I finally got through the Treebook ordeal, but it left me grumpy (can you tell?) and exhausted. I'll probably never read another Treebook as long as I live; life is too short. If was the best of reads (thanks to the author); it was the worst of reads (no thanks to the publisher). 

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