Monday, January 31, 2011

Hearing Voices



I don't know why, but it takes me a while to catch up to new movements. Most of you probably already have a Kindle or some kind of digital reader. Not me. It's not that I believe that I have to hold a real book--arthritic joints often make this difficult, especially with the bigger volumes of nonfiction that I like to read. No, it's mainly that I can't stand the idea of paying for digital books.

Before you suggest the lists and lists of books that are free to download, I'd suggest you look at those lists and tell me if you would like your reading limited to older classics and newer romances.

Long ago, I cleared out my personal library so that it only contains fiction books I like to read again and again, or certain kinds of books I like to refer to frequently, such as cookbooks and books on the development of language. Besides, we live in the dusty desert, and fewer books means less dust, sitting there and making me feel guilty. But, as a librarian (retired, but still a librarian in my heart), I am a confirmed library user. I love to drag home piles of books to read--all for free.

But those Kindles--so lightweight, so portable. So nice for trips (and we're planning a wonderful trip that I will tell you about later this week). With all that in mind, I started digging around my library's website to see if they made any free book downloads available for digital reading devices. Sadly, they didn't, but I did make a great discovery. [Later note: I went back and rechecked the library website and yes, they do have downloadable e-books, over 3400 of them. They are, however, the usual classics, but I could read a few, I guess].

Free downloadable audio books! Thousands of of them! 3,107 at last count, and more being added all the time! In spite of a kind of clunky interface, the list can be sorted by author, title, subject, or by latest titles added.

It took me a while to get over my disappointment that my Mac will only accept MP3 files, and that a great many of the books were in WMA format, whatever the heck that is. (I really know how to find out, since I'm a librarian--did I mention that already?--and you can find out, too, right here). But I bucked up and soldiered on, and found that I could still choose from tons of titles, download a book in just a few minutes, and then move it to an iPod very quickly.

Laugh at me if you will, but I've finally caught up with the rest of the world. I can knit and read! Well, I can knit and "read!" I can do the morning mile and read while walking! Perhaps I could even dust while reading...

I'm still thinking about that Kindle, though. Do you have a digital reader preference? Have you found a good source for free downloads?

11 comments:

Linda said...

I may turn out a digital reader refusnik, in the same way that I have no desire to have a Facebook page. The problem is, I just love the physical presence of books - their dust jackets, illustration, the look of them on the shelves.

Mary Hulser said...

Clair, Pat and the kids got me a Nook for Christmas. I really like it, but I must admit that they do the searching and downloading for me. Dylan's girlfriend got him the Nook Color and he's really good at finding and downloading stuff. So far I have electronically read "To Kill a Mockingbird", listened to an "Aurora Teagarden" mystery and read a free light historical romance, but of course, I'm still reading regular books--'The Help", "The Memory Palace" and 44 Scotland St. I'll ask the boys to send you their favorite downloading sites.

The Fabulous Penguin said...

Couple of things...
1. the switch from WMA to MP3 is just a small program away. If you want to, I would be happy to get you the name and website of a program, free, to do that for you. then you can download in one format and switch it to another.
2. I know several websites with thousands of books by hundreds of authors with easy downloads. you can search by author. only issue is that not all authors books are available but i found 15 to download last month without a problem. Again will be happy to share this info in a different forum...

clairz said...

Linda, I know it must be scary to run into a librarian who isn't fond of shelves full of books. I've owned hundreds and hundreds but have moved so often that I keep paring down the collection.

Mary, keep on listing your favorite reads because I'm adding titles to my Shelfari "books to read" list all the time. Btw, I haven't managed to get a copy of Half Broke Horses from the library yet (you mentioned it in an email) as it is still always out.

Pat, I would welcome the info for both the program and the links. Email me, if you would.

the7msn said...

Clair, listening to audiobooks will allow you to "read" twice as much as you do now. I'm on my second ipod (the first one met its fate in the stock tank when it fell out of my pocket). This new one, which I bought last June, has a video camera, fm radio, and a whole pile of stuff I never use. But the ear buds that come with it? Aaack! Be prepared to pick up a pair of lightweight headphones. I'm still paying for audiobooks on audible.com so that I can get all the latest books, but I love the free podcasts available on itunes.

JC said...

You are way ahead of me. I don't have an ipod or anything. With the way my eyes are going, I'll need to have someone read to me ... might as well listen to a lovely voice tell me a wild story while doing dishes. Now that's the life isn't it ...

Miss Becky said...

I was gifted a Kindle for Xmas and I LOVE it. It would be nice if Amazon were taxpayer funded and the downloads were free, but alas, that just isn't so. However, there are many free downloads, and audio books are also available - for a price. Initially I thought I would prefer holding a book, but I have such severe allergies that it's hard for me to read a book w/o sneezing every 30 seconds, even with my prescription antihistamine. I kid you not. With my Kindle I read sneeze-free. My sister is a librarian, loves her books, and thinks I'm nuts, but to each their own I guess.

Sandy ~~~ said...

OMG Clair...NO Kindle. It is proprietary and you pay waaaaaaay more than you should because everything gets sold through Amazon. My hubby has a Sony E-reader and loves it....gets books, new ones CHEAP-ly and here anyway he can download books directly from our library system. He is simply not hamstrung by Amazon (who we usually love for everything else). Audio books rock!

Deb said...

Clair, LT is a HUGE reader. I got a Kindle for him last year, and made sure to get a leather-(ish?) cover for it so that it "holds" like a real book. He is not a computer person At All, but has grown to love his Kindle. He's also cheap, and loves the library because it's free, but he's 99% converted to being a "Kindle-ite"...

I downloaded The Good Earth on my iPhone so that I could listen as I exercised. It was the first thing on the list that looked the least bit interesting to me, and I was short on time so picked it. It was not free, but I have never enjoyed being "read to" more than I enjoyed this. I exercised like a mad woman, the reader did a wonderful job, and...I "read" a book I've not read in years and years. Totally enjoyed it!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm impressed. You're more modern than me. I don't have any digital readers or ipods and my phone is an old dinosaur that just has the basics...no texting or photo taking options. And I'm ok with that.

I do have a small library of books on one bookcase, but like you, I don't collect books and instead prefer to pass them on to others. I love to visit the library, too, and bring home stacks of books to read.
My sons are the same way. We love to cuddle up and read for hours :)

Enjoy your downloadable books during your vacation :)

~Lisa

blue? purple? blurple? said...

I see you're a knitter! You'll LOVE this! I have a Kindle, LOVE it, and i ALSO love books-in one room alone I have 5 floor to ceiling bookcases that are crammed with books-never imagined i would love a kindle, but i do. With no apologies.
But I digress.
If you set up an email account to NameYouChoose@kindle.com and under settings in the 'manage my kindle' site, set your kindle email to accept from you (sounds weird I know) you can then email to that kindle address, PDF's. They go automatically to your Kindle via whispernet when you connect to the internet.
All this means is you can put KNITTING PATTERN PDF'S on your kindle thus lightening your knitting bag!