From Hilbert Space to Dilbert Space


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Thinking about eBooks
minicon ddb
gmcdavid
I have been hesitant about eBooks because of

  1. DRM issues
  2. How would I choose among the various readers out there?
However, the sheer volume of our library means the issue is always coming up. Also, I find that I am collecting a large number of pdf files, for which the DRM problem does not come up. An eBook reader would be nice just for them.

That leaves the issue of choosing a reader. The iPad is out: It costs too much. So the announcement of Amazon's latest Kindle led me to do a comparison about what eBooks they offer as opposed to what can be bought from Barnes and Noble for their Nook. Forget about New York Times best sellers; I have some rather odd interests and I wanted to find out which bookseller had the most eBooks that would interest me. So on each of their web sites I entered various keywords and phrases and noted the number of hits:

Search TermAmazonBarnes & Noble
Anglican208250
Gaelic5182
hieroglyphics3127
Hittite915
linguistics4431383
Minoan111
Mycenaean40
Old Irish441226
quantum mechanics3423
relativity30316
theology74083200
topology3516
woodworking22512

Actually, the results are even more one-sided than the statistics show. B&N included a lot of free books from Google. Amazon did not, but since they are pdf's the Kindle can certainly handle them.

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Before you pop for a Kindle (especially if you intend to use it mostly for PDFs) see if one of your friends has one that you can look at and test to see how well the PDFs that you're concerned with will render. My experience has been that the Kindleability of a PDF depends heavily on the nature of the PDF, and is tough to predict before you can see it right there on the e-ink display. It's still a fair bit of money to pay for something that could well end up giving you headaches.

Cheaper-than-iPad Android slates are coming, and are worth watching for. As a bonus, they can do numerous other things besides render ebooks.

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