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Kindle Report: Kinds of Texts

February 7, 2011

I’ve had a Kindle for six weeks now, and I really like reading on it.  It doesn’t give me the eyestrain that reading on a computer screen does, and I appreciate that I can read before bed as a wind-down – my perception is that screen-reading before bed makes it harder to fall asleep, as the lit screen messes with one’s circadian rhythms or something.  I though I’d list the types of texts I have read or tried to read on it, and how they have worked, as a starter.

  • Kindle Books bought (or free) from the Amazon Kindle store.  Kindle format gives “location numbers” instead of page numbers; in class we all have the same edition so to refer each other to a passage we use the location numbers.  We haven’t read any critical editions that would have footnotes, so I am not yet sure how these would be handled.
  • Books from Project Gutenburg in Kindle format.  These have been indistinguishable from Amazon Kindle books.
  • Word documents converted to Kindle format by emailing them to one’s free Kindle converter address.  The professor transcribed a passage from a book into a Word file (.doc) and I converted this to a Kindle format.  It worked just fine, assigning location numbers.  The professor included the page numbers in the transcription, so those show up in the Kindle text, which would be useful if one wanted to cite the original text in a paper.  This was a simple document, without footnotes or any unusual formatting.
  • Scanned .pdf. I scanned a scholarly article from an older bound journal into .pdf, for another purpose, and decided to try to send it through the Kindle converter process.  The journal was tightly bound so the scan was a bit distorted (lines not fully horizontal on the page), and as a result when the Kindle sent the text through its OCR process there were large areas that were rendered unreadable. I would judge this a failure.
  • .pdf from Jstor.  I downloaded a Jstor article in .pdf and sent it through the conversion to Kindle. The Kindle could not handle the footnotes and two-column format of the article (I used a 2005 article from the American Journal of Archaeology).  This was a worse failure than the above; the sentences were so mixed and jumbled that I could not make head or tail of it.

It’s my understanding that .doc and .pdf files can be moved directly onto the Kindle – as one would move a .doc file onto an external drive – and read in their native formats.  Since the page size is generally larger than a Kindle screen, reading them requires scrolling, and one can’t change the font size.  It’s just like reading a .pdf file on a too-small computer screen (except it’s e-ink and not backlit).  I haven’t actually done this yet, and personally I think that the benefit of the e-ink would be outweighed by the annoyance of all the scrolling (which is not easy on a Kindle – it’s not like it’s a touch-screen!)

Conclusions so far: I love to read free fiction books on the Kindle.  I would like to experiment with reading a scholarly book formatted for the Kindle (i.e one with footnotes), and to experiment with different sources of .pdf files to see if I can get any to convert well.

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One comment

  1. […] Want in a Scholarly E-Book Reader February 22, 2011 So, I’ve been using the Kindle and playing with formats and liking it, but I’m now at the point where I’m saying, “wouldn’t it be […]



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