Recently in E-Book/E-Text Announcements Category

Book Group Read


This week the book group decided to tackle at least "Daisy Miller" and possibly even Washington Square. Having read "Daisy Miller" before, at least once, possibly twice, I recalled that there are actually 2 different Daisy Millers--one the child of the original 1878 version. The 1909 version was touched heavily, as were many of the books prepared for that New York Edition of the Author's works.

So I thought, perhaps I should read them both. And while I may do that, I found something that may serve even better. For those who are interested in the mind and work of a writer, you might try checking out tha variorum edition you can find here. It presents both versions in a way in which you can see the differences. Perhaps a bit much for some, but given the lightness of the read and the swiftness with which it may be accomplished, certainly something worthwhile.

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A View from the Future


For, I hope, your amusement, an observation I made last night:

I am in the process of reading The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer in paper and Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout on Kindle. As I write that last sentence I cannot be be amused at the thought that if these words survived into some future age, there would have to be a small annotation next to the word "kindle" which read, " a rather primitive device for electronic reading. Paper refers to the archaic practice of printing on processed tree pulp with inks of various composition. Leaves of this material were bound into the original volumes called 'books.' some of these can still be seen in repositories and museums around the world.

* * * * *

Thus we come to the end of the threat of Montag and his ilk. Not that we don't have enough internal threats to make literacy something of the past--already it too much trends that way; however, mere burning will no longer be sufficient to supress what becomes unpopular.

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While Linda was recovering from surgery, and finished my first book on my marvelous Kindle. I don't know why I devolved upon this title as I'd read it a couple of time before. However the catchy beginning and refrain and the marvelous experiment in reading a language that isn't quite English, is engaging.

Many have seen the movie and know the lines of the story, so there's little point in going over much of that detail. It is interesting to note a couple of places where the movie differs from the book, because it places the book in an even darker realm. For example, in the book Alex, the hero, is fifteen years old. The two girls he encounters in the record store are 10 years old--obviously not something Kubrick could place into his film.

Other than these major differences, the movie is largerly true to the book, emphasizing certain things (such as Alex's devotion to Beethoven, whereas in the book it's a general devotion to classical music) for cinematic effect. What the movie, and the American edition of the book, lack is the 21st chapter.

In the introduction to this edition of the book, Burgess makes the point that he wrote the novel as a novel, not as a fable. He felt that the twenty-first chapter in which we see Alex in quite a different light moved the character from one place to another that was more probable considering the wisdom that comes with age.

And I'd say, if that were your intent, Mr. Burgess, such movement should have started and been indicated long before the tail end of the book. I'm supposed to believe in the span of six or seven pages we've had a complete reform of life.

This is once again a place where we see the value of editors. When the American publishers sliced off the last chapter, they were making a comment about the strength of the book and the strength of Burgess' message, whether or not we agree with the message. They identified the true power and driver of the little tale, and if Mr. Burgess wanted to regard that as a fable, then so be it. But the reality is that his little fable, his truncated novel, is by far a more powerful work than most other novels, and certainly, made the novel and much finer work.

But it wasn't what the artist conceived--and I really do like to see what the artist thought the work should be. In almost every case, where there has been a good and insightful editor involved, the judicious edits made vastly improve the book. Of course everyone is aware of the work Maxwell Perkins did in making Thomas Wolfe (particularly Look Homeward, Angel readable. After reading Stephen King's uncut version of The Stand I gained a true appreciation for the value of a fine editor. King's larded, self-indulgent phantasmagoria of a novel has, I'm certain, charms all to itself; however, the sleeker, svelter, original publication is by far a more powerful book.

Not all editors enhance a manuscript. Not all editing improves--the editor must be someone who at once has a deep appreciation for the book in front of her or him, and also a deep appreciation for the English language and literature in general.

Editors have fallen by the wayside--it is evident in the plethora of books that could, at a minimum, use a continuity editor. But in the past , editors have made good decisions that have improved a work greatly. My own interactions with editors I have trusted and admired has lead to greatly improved manuscript and published copy. (There are many times when I wish that I could turn my blog over to an editor before publishing a single entry. Alas, it is not to be so.) The New York editors of Burgess' novel greatly improved it by removing the last chapter. However, I think it is also instructive to read what the author has written and understand what he thought the purpose of his work was, regardless of what the work actually accomplishes in itself.

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The Orwell Diaries Blog--Serialized as blog entries for the day appropriate to the diary, hitherto unpublished.

And, the announcement of this year's Hugo Awards, featuring a novel by Michael Chabon. I know that Doris Lessing was at one time nominated (not certain that she won).

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Charles Darwin Online


Cambridge University is making available to the world at large works of Charles Darwin previously available only to scholars.

Darwin's Papers Online

To live in the digital age is both a blessing and a curse. File this one under blessings.

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More on Kindle


From somone who seem to have spent the time, effort, and energy to get acquainted with the publicity and some of the features. However, I would note that the reviewer, as thorough and as balanced as he is does not appear to hold one of these in his own hands yet. And the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Nevertheless, some interesting points are made and I am very curious about the device, being an inveterate e-book reader myself and have thousands upon thousands of e-book files (unfortunately in palm format--but it is of little consequence to go and convert them to TXT or to get them once again--or even dig the original files out of the massive archive I have.)

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Kindle Reviews

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Check this review or the slashdot review roundup to correct a few misconceptions about the availability of "outside" material on the Kindle.


At the end of the day, Amazon's DRM applies only to books you actually buy - everything else works natively or with minimal hassle.

It's surprisingly easy to get non-Amazon material on it. I just plug it in to the USB cable which perpetually hangs off the back of my laptop, and it shows up as a hard drive. I drop .txt and .mobi files into the "Book" folder and they show up. I convert a handful of PDFs to .mobi files using Mobi Creator and they work perfect, Tables of Contents and all. Sweet.

And, I'm noting that others seem to agree with me in one of the great ironies of recent time: Amazon, the great online retailer, needs a brick and mortar presence to get these into the hands of people who might use them. I know I'm disinclined to purchase another pig in a poke.

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This may be the breakthrough I've been waiting for. Great. Now I have at least four or five devices to trundle along because I'll still need my PDA for on the go writing, my iPod, because I can't keep enough memory on my PDA to play music, my cell phone AND now, my Kindle. I'll just be bristling with electronic gear. Call me "Neuromancer."

And the huge deal, is that using Amazon's retail strength, they've argued the price down to $9.99 or less. In most cases e-books were costing close to the full price of the book. Now, I know enough about the book business to realize that a goodly portion of the cost is wrapped up in what is called ppb (print, paper, and binding) and in inventory. When you're delivering electronically, you don't incur these costs, so the books should be commensurately cheaper. But they have not been. Now, just glancing through the titles, I found The Omnivore's Dilemma for $6.50. Amazing!

The down side is that I'm not likely to be able to find many of the great public domain things I've been able to derive from the internet. However, it is reputed that this device will also read Word files so there may be a way around that difficulty as well.

But right now, I just can't see my way to $400.00. Soon though, perhaps.

I do note that it's only getting 2.5 stars in the Amazon reviews. Much having to do with the lack of reading PDF, or some preferring wireless to cell-phone technology or "it's ugly." Etc. Well, there are some who will not be pleased with anything. But, as I've said to others, I'll need to find someone who owns one and hold it in my hands before I'll be able to decide. But it is cool, and it is only the start. I'm sure Amazone is already using the feedback they've gotten to improve the reader.

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