I have consistently been a late adopter of technology. The last time I jumped on the techno band wagon from the get go was when I bought an mp3 player back before there was such a thing as an iPod (it was the equivalent of the Zack Morris cell phone). Needless to say I got burned and I learned my lesson. Since that time I have always waited and waited for new technology to go through a few iterations before I buy it. Last Friday I decided to finally jump on the iPhone band wagon, and although I wish I would have done it sooner I am glad that I waited for them to work out some of the bugs.
Anyways I have been trolling the app store looking for good apps and wanted to promote one of my favorite apps so far. The app is from BeamItDown Software and it is a collection of 150 Great Books (and counting). Usually I feel the same way about digital books as I do about new technology, I really don’t like it. There’s really nothing that can beat reading a real book, as opposed to the digital incarnation, but the price was right so I figured what the hell I’ll give it a try. Up until this point I have only really read research papers and the like in digital form, and those usually don’t exceed fifty pages or so, but even those few pages are taxing on my eyes. Now with all my complaining and griping about digital books you might be asking “well I thought you liked this app?” I do but I just had to get some minor complaints out of the way first.
Lately I have been packing–in preparation for my imminent move to somewhere, don’t know where just yet–and I filled up two twenty gallon plastic storage containers with my books. And when I went to move them into the other room I almost gave myself a hernia. Seriously books are fucking heavy and annoying to move. I had forgotten about that. So until the time comes where I settle down and have a room dedicated as my library I think I am going to calm down on buying books. Secondly, I went to do my laundry the other day and usually along with my colossal bag of dirty laundry, detergent, softener, and bounce sheets, I usually take my phone, iPod, and a book to read. Now instead I just grabbed my bag of laundry and my iPhone and I was off listening to my music during the long trek to the laundromat, and once there I dove into A Tale of Two Cities, which is a book I have been meaning to read for years. Despite my aversion to digital books I really enjoyed it and so far I haven’t really felt that I am missing that much by reading it off of my phone. Actually it’s pretty damn great, and bonus because there are so many choices of books to read I will never be without a book. And besides it’s much better than carrying my satchel (it’s not a man purse it’s a satchel) into the city filled with books and what not.
By the way the app is now 50% off and is only $4.99–which when added to the price of a new iPhone is cheaper than the Kindle, and the Kindle doesn’t play music or make phone calls (suck on that amazon). That $4.99 price tag is also cheaper than buying even one of the books on the list. Speaking of the list here are some of the highlights of what books are included on the app: a collection of Dickens, Twain, Doyle, Dumas, Hardy, London, Poe, and Wells. Oh but wait there’s more it also includes political tracts from Hamilton, Locke, Marx, Milton, Paine, and Plato. And there is a ton of other stuff including Epic Poetry, regular poetry, and fables. There is really a grip of worthwhile books on the list just begging to be read, and hey did I mention it’s really a phenomenal deal. The app itself works smoothly and saves where you left off in every book that you are reading. Instead of simulating a book and page turns this app works like a “teleprompter” which makes it easier to read. You can set it to move automatically so that you don’t have to touch the screen and can just keep reading. Personally I hate the mode because I either feel that I am being rushed or that it’s moving too slow–I haven’t found the “just right” speed yet–and besides I like to read well written passages over and over again so I can fully appreciate them. So I’d rather move the script on my own, but the option is there which is nice.
However, there are a couple add-ons I would like to see. One is a way to highlight, mark, or dog-ear certain passages. I have the tendency to write notes and bracket particularly good passages, but the ability to write notes is probably asking for a bit much so I would settle for a way to just highlight passages for reference later on. Secondly, I would like some kind of page reference that lets me know the approximate page number that I am currently reading. One of the benefits of reading books is noting the progress you make each time you sit down and read for a few hours, and that is really lost on this format. Other than those minor gripes the app is the tops and well worth the money. I don’t think I’ll ever go completely digital but being able to have so many good books on hand at all times is priceless (cliche I know, but also true).
Thanks to crunchgear for the pic.