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Some Peaks and Pits of E-Reading

July 6, 2010 by Reader's Connection

I´ve been borrowing some e-books from the library´s Downloadables page, and experiencing them on a Sony Reader. Here are a few of my reactions.

A Bit on the Side

Peak:

 

I don´t see the ending coming. When I read short stories on paper, I sometimes page ahead, more or less accidentally, to see how much more there is. I know that some of you do this deliberately. Some of you even turn to the end of a novel to see how it ends, and may God have mercy on your souls.

I love being surprised by the endings in William Trevor’s wonderful collection A Bit on the Side. Sometimes I think a story is over, and he takes it around another bend. And sometimes the story is suddenly over and I’m caught up short. The way e-reading plays tricks with my expectations is a big peak.

 

  

 

 Pit:

 Adobe Digital Editions (ADE for short).

need-ade

 According to our Downloadables page, this software must be downloaded before you can make use of our e-books. I obeyed these instructions, but ADE didn’t behave as it was supposed to. When my e-reader is connected to my computer, ADE is supposed to detect its presence; and that didn’t happen.

I web-chatted with an Adobe help person, but she wasn’t able to help. She gave me a link to some Adobe phone numbers. I tried one of them, was forwarded a couple of time, and finally got the guy who told me that ADE was a free service, so no one from Adobe was going to help me with it. He suggested I try the Adobe Forums, and those people were responsive but couldn’t help.

sony_readerlibraryFinally one of our techie guys took my hand and helped me download the Sony Reader Library, which isn’t the most intuitive software in the world but does seem to work–and seems to be all I need.

So if Adobe Digital Editions is giving you the blues, find out if your reader has some associated software that can take ADE’s place. 

 

 

Hope to Die

Peak:

Reading Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder novels on a Sony Reader is like skating on gray ice beneath which horrible, frightening news keeps floating to the surface as I zoom along. When I’m lying in bed, Scudder on a Sony is the perfect combo for skating off to Dreamland.

Matt is my favorite living detective (yes, I understand that’s he’s fictional), but I had avoided Block’s 2001 title Hope to Die, because I felt that its predecessor, Everybody Dies, was the worst book in the series. I figured Matthew had left the room.

I was so wrong. Hope to Die is dazzling, and I have just now downloaded the 2005 title All the Flowers are Dying. Thirteen of the sixteen novels in the series are available on our Downloadables page.

 

 
Daniel Deronda

 Pit:

Searching for a passage in an e-book is impossible. I was skating around in George Eliot’s novel Daniel Deronda, searching for the title character’s explanation of why he thinks gambling is a bad thing, and I kept slipping and falling on my butt. I had to check out a paper copy.

The novel is famously two novels in one–Gwendolyn’s story and Daniel’s story. Like most readers, I enjoy Eliot’s short-sighted, money-grubbing Gentiles much more than I do her philosophical Jews, so Gwendolyn’s half gets my vote. But the two characters occasionally meet, and it is during one of those face-offs that Daniel tells Gwendolyn what he has against gambling. There was no way to find his speech in an e-book. I had to scan a paper copy for pages containing both characters’ names.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s the passage, from near the end of Chapter XXIX. I think it would be better for men not to gamble. It is a besotting kind of taste, likely to turn into a disease. And, besides, there is something revolting to me in raking a heap of money together, and internally chuckling over it, when others are feeling the loss of it. I should even call it base, if it were more than an occasional lapse. There are inevitable turns of fortune which force us to see that our gain is another’s loss:–that is one of the ugly aspects of life. One would like to reduce it as much as one could, not get amusement out of exaggerating it.

If I had plastered Daniel’s speech all over the Web back in the 1980′s, when Indiana’s legislators were preparing to vote on legalizing gambling, perhaps our Hoosier waterways wouldn’t be clogged with stupid gambling boats. If the Web had existed back then.

 

Peak:

I’m not a young man, and I love being able to blow up my print size. There. Let’s end on a positive note. I’ll be back again with more cheering and whining.

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