Posts Tagged e-books

Bibliophilia or Bibliomania – Hoarding of a different kind

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

My love for my Kindle is quite known amongst my friends. Well, I don’t love the Amazon Kindle for its sake. I love my books. I love the fantasy and sci-fi, horror and mystery genres. But then again I think I love the Kindle for how it makes it easy for me to carry my books.

But ever since I got my Kindle, I’ve been in the habit of loading up e-books on it. Many e-books. Too many e-books that sometimes I just page through my collection and never manage to settle on one to read. There are always so many books I want to read and so little time and so many books read to different percentages and shelved.

Blaming Project Gutenberg for having so many English classics on the web in many formats free to download is what I’ve been doing and by extension it is the reason I’ve only read bit and pieces of the books that I’ve read.


Stepping back, I realized I have been obsessively and unhealthily ‘collecting’ e-books that I might not read and blaming the availability of free/ cheap e-books for this new habit I have formed. I just caught myself right on the borderline of becoming an e-book hoarder.

So my plan to stop myself from hoarding is to:

1. Only keep on my Kindle e-books I can finish reading within a 2/3 months time frame

2. At any time I should have read more than 50% of the e-books on my Kindle and

3. Archive e-books after I have read them or

4. Only read paperbacks and hardcovers

Will one be called a bibliophile or bibliomaniac for hoarding e-books?

Do you have more than 50 e-books on  your e-reader with about 75% of them unread?

Can one love e-books?

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Warranty void by location – Why Amazon might not replace my broken Kindle

I am thinking about the current state of my Amazon Kindle and I am broken hearted. Well, I never anticipated that my Kindle would be dead set on /at ‘The Fishes’ e-ink screensaver. My Kindle simply won’t budge; not even to 10 minutes [of holding the power slide] hard reset. So I’ve not been reading much lately, at least not on the bus to work or back.

For some time now however, I was taking solace in the fact that a new Kindle could soon be coming my way thanks to Amazon’s flexible (and international?) replacement program for broken Kindle e-readers.

But after a few weeks of e-mails going back and forth with Amazon representatives, I am totally frustrated and want to reach out to other Kindle users in Africa if they have successfully got replacements for their broken Kindles.

Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” I am beginning to wonder if Amazon plans on rolling out their vision statement to the letter; you know to all the earth?

After discovering my Kindle was broken, I called my friend, who walked me through the hard booting/resetting process, recharging battery fully process and we both agreed my Kindle was broken. Luckily enough my Kindle 3 was within warranty period and it was agreed I was going to explore that option.

After about 20mins of international call to the helpdesk to report my broken Kindle, I finally got an officially confirmation/ acknowledgement that my Kindle was broken and was going to be replaced for free. [Make a call to friend to share the good news]. I was promised $20 online credit for the airtime I spent to report problem. *Good customer service*

Fast track to 2 weeks later, I was getting mails requiring me to ship the broken Kindle to a US address to get a gift [shopping] voucher when all I wanted was my replacement Kindle back.

After many e-mails, I was finally told in plain English that Amazon doesn’t ship to Ghana or most part of Africa for that matter and that I should provide an address in the USA for them to ship the replacement Kindle to it. [Calling favours and friends who might be coming to Ghana for summer]

After getting an address and a friend willing to bring my Kindle home, I was informed I had to insert credit/ debit card details (which no charge will be billed against). A few days later I got a mail that the (Ghana) debit card I provided didn’t work (was refused) for some reason I cannot tell so my Kindle will not be shipped.

I am back to square one now and I am still holding my broken Kindle and my account at Amazon still stands at $0.00.

A few questions remain on my mind;

  1. If I can ship my broken Kindle to the USA, why can’t Amazon ship my replacement Kindle to Ghana?
  2. If Amazon failed to credit me with $20 for calling their helpdesk like they promised, why should I trust them to credit my account with the price of a Kindle 3 and cost of courier-shipping my broken one to their address?
  3. What if I don’t know anyone in the USA, does it mean I don’t get a replacement Kindle? Does that mean my warranty is void?
  4. What if I was never a prospective customer in Amazon’s marketing plan? This reminds me of the statement alleged to have been made by Tommy Hilfiger about not having Africans in mind when making his designer clothing.
  5. What good will it do for me to ship my broken Kindle to Amazon only to get a gift voucher that I can only use to shop on but cannot ship to Ghana? Catch 22

I am now convinced I will not get a new Kindle anytime soon, thanks to an Amazon system which is set up with the average American/European in mind. You know; a credit card wielding person whose home address can be searched on Google Earth and can ‘afford’ a Kindle.

Am I in this rut because I have a taste for things made for people in 1st world countries? Is my warranty void just because I find myself in a 3rd world country?

I am not happy with Amazon but I still will want my Kindle back. Someone please share a success story.

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Calibre E-book Management 0.8.8 review

Calibre just keeps getting better.

‘Welcome to Calibre, the one stop solution to all your e-book needs’ is the first thing you read when you starts the Calibre E-book Management Welcome Wizard. Now that is a mission statement that the latest iteration of Calibre (0.8.8) has managed to achieve impressively.
The Welcome Wizard takes you through setting up your e-book reader and just about caters for every e-book reader currently on the market. The Kobo, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook, Apple and Android devices, my favourite; Amazon Kindle are all listed and to complete the party Sony, PocketBook and your ‘Generic’ ebook reader are all catered for.

The selection of one’s e-reader at the welcome wizard ensures that a default e-book format device is set up for future e-book conversions. For Kindle users, one can enter Kindle email for delivery of (converted/ downloaded) e-books by whispernet / wi-fi to the Kindle.
Calibre e-book viewer/library/browser/format converter are all names you can call the software and rightfully so. I first discovered Calibre when I needed to convert some Microsoft Reader (.LIT) e-books to .EPUB and I was impressed then and for avid readers with multiple e-readers you definitely need this piece of software. It can convert from all popular e-book formats to about 25 formats and has an editor that allows for tweaking font, font size, spacing before converting. The practical benefits are obvious here; one can purchase an e-book for cheap from a rival publisher/seller and convert and read on one’s preferred e-reader or e-readers.

The library is at the heart of the software and lot of care has been taken to make it look good and functional. From the iTunes-esque display of e-books in the library to the side bar, you can tell that the developers have taken pains to make using the software a pleasant experience; intuitive and aesthetic.
E-books can be searched by Author, Series, Format, Publisher, Ratings and Tags. I’ve been using the Author and Format more to narrow down my searches and for e-book transfers to my Kindle.
One thing users have to be aware of is that by default, all e-books are copied into a Calibre folder, without deleting the original e-books. Just another 2 or 3 GB of space to plan for shouldn’t be a problem with a 500GB HDD laptop.

The new e-book viewer that comes with Calibre is adding more arsenal to e-book management software. The e-book viewer is a stand-alone that works with the Calibre library or can use explorer to navigate to any location on your pc to open an e-book.
The interface is simple, with all icons to the left of the reading pane. The page turners are centered and the other icons are quite intuitive. There is no learning curve here.

The interesting addition is the Reference Mode which displays an index/reference number for every paragraph. Now that is something you don’t get with the Kindle for PC but is it enough to satisfy e-reader owners? What use is referencing if you can’t synchronize it between your pc and e-reader and vice-versa?
The dictionary function works only with and internet access which is restrictive in many ways. I think Calibre should come with a standard dictionary as default and a selectable number of online dictionaries.
I am still wondering why there is a Print function. Is it redundant for an e-book viewer to have a print option? Let’s agree for sustainability sake and to reduce our carbon footprint, not to print any e-books on papers.

RSS Reader
Calibre can fetch news (in full with pictures) and can be read in the e-book viewer or transferred to one’s e-reader in any format.
This allows for connection to content servers online, iTunes and management of e-mails to one’s Kindle account.

One can access an array of online stores by using the ‘Get books’ icon. Some websites are rendered in Calibre and displayed in a pop-up screen and others like Amazon Kindle open in a browser. All categories are deployed; free e-book websites, popular premium websites and independent e-book publishers as well. Affiliate programs that make contribution to Calibre developers have Red Hearts next to them.
If you want to make any donations to the project, just hit the Red Heart icon. To show the Calibre developers love, donate some money. Money = Red Heart.

Is Calibre going to remain an Open Source e-book management software project or will soon release an ubiquitous e-book reader capable of reading all formats?

For now, I am a satisfied customer and looking forward to see how much further Calibre can raise the bar in e-book management.

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