Saturday, March 26, 2011

Biggest Bargain Books-- and Good Food!

I was thinking about José Saramago, the late Nobel prize winning Portuguese socialist expatriate, so I went to the Kindle Store to see what his books were selling for, and I found the biggest bargain yet except for the totally free Victorians: an omnibus collection of twelve of his novels for $19.80. That’s right, 12 novels (as far as I can tell, all of his fiction except the newest, possibly posthumous Cain. )There is also an appreciation/introduction by Ursula LeGuin that I enjoyed a lot (and you can read in the “sample” format that is free). I did my shopping due diligence and made sure the translators were the same ones as my three hard copy Saramago’s have. And I’m now reading The Elephant with great if intermittent pleasure.

And I have a thought that his crazy wonderful breathless style with commas for periods and no quotation marks may be exactly right for the full speed ahead book tunnel of the e-reader. I’m happy as a clam.

Actually, I'm happy as a clam about going to dinner at Munchie's, too, the new South Orange Jamaican restaurant: spicy red snapper brown stew with rice and "peas," planatains, stewed cabbage. So glad we finally went over and tried it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Such Fun Reading With Edith KoneckyLast Night!

It was a lovely evening at the Teachers & Writers Collaborative event in New York last night with Carole Rosenthal emceeing for Edith Konecky and me. Edith read beautifully; it was a responsive, happy crowd, pretty much filling the Teachers & Writers reading space. Amy Swauger, director, made everyone welcome. People from the Writers Group and the Hamilton Stone collective-- old friends from Teachers & Writers Miguel Ortiz and Nancy Shaprio- well, I'm not going to start naming people, but need to say it was warm and beautiful, and there was a good microphone that allowed for subtlety in tone.

Photos include me above signing a book; clapping for Edith after she read below; and laughing audience.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unclad trees, sky lace,
Filagree and fastener,
Protect tiny green.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Technology Moving Fast for the Kindle...

So I am suddenly expanding the Kindle. First, there are the sites for lending books with Amazon. They allow you one loan per book. Not much. As usual, I learned about this by plunging in. I just signed up at after reading praise of it, and tried to think of a possible recent book I’d like to read but not buy– for example, the kind of thing I’d borrow from a library, if I were a regular library goer. I decided to try WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, and the site said it was not available. Fine, so I forgot about it– and three days ago got an email saying it was waiting for me! Mercy. So now I’m hurriedly reading it before the 14 days are up. In order to be nice, I decided to loan the two books I’ve actually paid for– and found out that they are “nonlendable,” a decision the publisher makes.

There’s a lot of confusion right now among technology, profit taking, ownership, books as physical objects and books as reading experiences.

Next move, I read some more online and discoverd the existes of Calibre, an open source software that will translate e-pub or whatever for kindle (or just about anything to anything, actually). You are supposed to be able to have books emailed to your Kindle account, but why? It also loads directly to the device if attached to the computer, so I’ve translated my first book (just Calibre’s handbook) and downloaded. Cool.
This is all new and happening fast.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Borrowed a book on the Kindle!

I just borrowed Wolf Hall for the Kindle– I got an email saying it was available, and I said OK, and it was delivered to my account, then downloaded by wi-fi to the Kindle– and I have it for two weeks! I hope I have time to read it. This was done experimenting here, experimenting there– never thinking it would come so fast, but here it is. A little too easy, if you ask me….

Sunday, March 06, 2011

More Ebook

I’m still being going for with the Kindle, because there is a real tendency to hear of a book and go buy it– just what Amazon wants, of course! Last night I was exploring some of the free sites, especially Gutenberg, and I downloaded the major novels of Mrs. Gaskell, which I’ve read, but am ready to read again. I think downloading to the computer directly from Gutenberg (and then transfering by wire to the Kindle) may be easier than buying free from Amazon because it’s time consuming to figure out which edition you want on Amazon– some free, some 99 cents, some as much as $12.00.

I finished the final Palliser novel (The Duke’s Children), which was surprisingly cheerful after the heavily dysfunctional relationships of The Prime Minister. The Duke’s heir Silverbridge (“Silver”) grows on you: not overwhelmingly smart, with no real political convictions, making one error in life after another, but lovable and good hearted and once he was in love willing to stick to it! His sister also sticks to her choice in a love, and there’s another of Trollope’s pathetic woman of power, Mabel Glax, tramelled by sexism, the class system, and the disaster of turning great gifts to love alone.

It isn’t that I’m not reading contemporary books: I’m working on a new issue of my newsletter with one unpublished book and a couple from a couple of years ago. But the fact is, the brand new books are expensive and harder to get on the e-readers. Let me rephrase, not harder to get, but harder to get free. I have this feeling I should be able to borrow, as in the library, and there seems to be some of that developing– Amazon has some books you can borrow for two weeks, if the owners allow (I think I’m getting this right) but they can only be borrowed once. There’s something all wrong about this– I’m still having trouble with the ethics of all this and the logistics. The ethics of copyright is fascinating and annoying: I just read somewhere that the entire twentieth century’s output of books– at least after 1920– is going to be dead to e-books unless the publishers and authors get their heads straight and give up the infinite copyrights. Easy for me to say, with how little I make in royalties.