Daniel Lemire's blog

, 2 min read

Where to get your ebooks?

If you read my blog, you probably like to read in general. Thus, if you don’t own an ebook device, you will soon. The choice is growing: the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Apple iPad,… I bought a kindle because my wife won’t let me fill the house with books. And I hate to throw away perfectly good paper books.

Amazon has most of the market for now. Yet, using the kindle store—on the kindle—is painful. Moreover, Amazon ebooks are protected by Digital Right Management (DRM). Amazon sells you crippled ebooks that can stop working if you copy them too often. There are often better alternatives elsewhere.

And, in Canada, there is a two-dollar surcharge for every wireless download using the Kindle. Since most ebooks are 0.5MB or less, the wireless costs 4$ per megabyte! This is insulting! Moreover, if you buy a book by mistake—which is annoying common—Amazon will reimburse the cost of the book itself, but not the fee for the wireless download.

Thankfully, you can grab books compatible with the kindle (in Mobipocket format) elsewhere. Then you can drop the file on the kindle using the USB port.

  • You can get nearly 2000 of the great French classic for free on ebookgratuits. This include a large fraction of the work of Honoré de Balzac.
  • Project Gutenberg offers 30,000 free e-books in various languages (mostly English).
  • WebScription sells DRM-free ebooks in various format. Most books fall into the scifi, young adults and fantasy genres.

I am currently reading You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop by Scalzi. I bought it at WebScription for six dollars. It is a compilation of Scalzi’s blog posts on his life as a writer. I am fascinated by how much it ressembles my own life. Well… Except for the fact that I don’t get paid when I publish a paper. Maybe I should put together a compilation of posts about my silly work life. Would anyone buy it for six dollars?

I am also reading Halting State by Stross which I bought on Amazon for ten dollars. I haven’t yet gotten into the mood of the novel.

Further reading:

  • According to a Computer Scientist, the iPad could make Computer Science obsolete.
  • While I don’t think academic journals will be available on the Kindle any time soon, I think that has mostly to do with how insane academic publishing is.