Embracing technology

There are no birds in this post and therefore no photos. Hopefully, if you like to read and are interested in the development of eBooks for birders then this post will interest you. If not, well, either see you next time or go take a look at some of the nice photos in the gallery.

As I have recently delved into the relatively new World of e-publishing, one thing is becoming quite clear, many people are entirely unfamiliar with the medium and simply do not realise that many paper books will soon be a thing of the past.

That sounds quite a bold statement but, the vast differences between the costs of publishing traditionally versus electronically mean that many eBooks are (or should be) much cheaper than their hard copy counterparts. This hasn’t stopped the big eBook suppliers from ripping people off, some of their prices are quite scandalous, especially for books in the wildlife sector, but is has allowed the reading market to become less controlled by editors and publishers and more accessible for first-time authors (like me). The upshot of this is that, whether you like it or not, paper books and especially novels, will gradually become history.

One particular recurrent theme I’m finding as I talk to people about eBooks is the lack of tech savvy people who are “waiting until my friend comes round to install X, he/she knows about this stuff”. I find this really surprising but it also explains (to me at least) why PC sellers do so well with their tech support. It seems that many people are still scared of breaking their computers and happily put up with all of the junk that computer makers, sellers and software suppliers push on them.

The first thing I do with a new PC is to change all the settings from automatic updates to manual, despite the dire warnings of impending doom. I then do weekly updates myself via the different software update options. That way my PC spends its time working on my stuff and not using resources checking every three minutes to see whether Microsoft or Norton have updated something. Try it; you’ll be surprised by how much better the PC runs.

I said earlier in the post that the publishing World is changing and you, as a birder, might wonder how you will be affected. I don’t think that eBooks can ever be a replacement for the hard copy field guide or wildlife reference books we all love; they just don’t feel right and don’t work in the same way. What they can do is supplement your library by providing electronic versions of the all of your guides in one very handy reader. With air transit costs climbing and most carriers charging for baggage, the logistics of taking those heavy field guides to countries that can fill around 800 pages means that you either slice and dice the guide for just the plates, or you go the who hog and go electronic.

I’ll state the obvious here and say that electronic is only an option when you have electricity to power things and that, when an e-reader dies, it dies! That is why you have a PC or tablet as back up!

I have an e-reader, a Kobo and it works fine. Sandra has one too, a Sony and that also works fine although she is on her third, having literally worn the other two out. We also have reader apps on our iPods, the iPad and on the PC. We are well serviced with e-reading options and all of our purchases are on all of the devices. You can do that very easily.

If you have a PC, iPod, iPad, Tablet, Smartphone or whatever and you like to read, then there are some e-Book app options listed below.

Mac & PC – Kobo, free desktop reader at http://www.kobobooks.com/desktops

The Bluefire e-reader app, available from iTunes comes highly recommended, link below.


A free iTunes app for reading eBooks is available; you just download it from the app store in iTunes. More information is at https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8

Barnes and Noble do an app also, they are a major eBook seller, see more at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook-mobile-apps/379003593/

Amazon Kindle is its own thing and you get the software when you buy it. The downside, as far as I’m aware, is that any titles you want to read must be available for the Kindle and it is not always the case that Amazon will carry them. Most Kindle owners think that they can only buy from Amazon but this is not true and you can go to any number of eBook stores and buy books that can be transferred to a Kindle. The link to the software to do that is below.

Adobe Digital Editions is a useful piece of free software that will allow you to transfer eBooks to various devices, such as tablets with e-reader apps, get it here: http://www.adobe.com/ca/products/digital-editions.html

There are other versions of e-readers out there. Until recently Sony was a very popular one, their e-reader device being a very simple and effective unit. The Sony store is now shut but their devices still retail at big box stores, coming in at around $80 or so.

Finally, we both recently made a conscious decision not to buy non-reference books in hard copy anymore. We used to buy the new hardback books from Pratchett, Rankin and Holt when they came out. Now we just have the electronic versions and a basement full of books. Change is never an easy thing but, when it is inevitable it is surely better to embrace it rather than do a Canute. It didn’t work for him after all.

Comments are always welcome. The next post will be about birds and birding.

You all know where my eBook can be found, just check the sidebar.


A thing of the past?


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