Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

My Love-Hate Relationship with Ebooks

with 2 comments

young_woman_pompei.jpgA short post as I peruse the “ebrary” tool available to me as a graduate student. I am in search of a good text to read and about which to write an academic book review. It’s an assignment in my Historiography class. I’m open for suggestion by the way.

I absolutely LOVE the ability to search, read, highlight and store on my virtual bookshelf the books on-line in virtual libraries. Before I discovered that I had access to “ebrary,” a wonderful tool at the university, I used (and still do) Questia. I am admittedly an e-library “early-adopter” (a term we use in telecom to describe those on the cutting edge who can’t wait for the latest new technology and will pay a premium to have it). Yes I actually pay a hefty sum for my Questia subscription. Now that I’ve seen “ebrary,” I will likely reconsider, but I digress. The point is that for research and easy, quick access to information, ebook libraries are fantastic. I can highlight in multiple colors, build bookshelves on particular topics, create perfectly formatted citationbooks.jpgs in the style of my choosing —sigh — a student’s or any researcher’s dream.

On the other hand, I LOVE to OWN books. I want them all – physically in my house, on my shelves, stacked on my desk, on the floor, the dresser, the nightstand (See earlier post titled Civil War Books Filling Every Nook and Cranny.). I want to be able to pick a book up, feel it in my hands, flip through its pages, highlight phrases I want to remember, scribble in the margins, carry it in my bag to pull out during moments opportune for reading. This tactile experience – which is one of the joys of reading – is just not the same with an ebook.

I’ve been vaguely aware of the ebook readers on the market. One of my staff told me that the new “AmazonKindle” is all the rage in academia. Could this be the best of both worlds? I’m not yet ready to say. I guess I need to try it, but, alas, it has no pages to touch… I remain conflicted.


Written by Rene Tyree

December 16, 2007 at 3:46 am

2 Responses

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  1. I was going to write about Kindle, but I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it. The thing is, I don’t think it is much of a big deal to researchers, as apparently the device is not a pdf reader. It is only for product purchased from Amazon like books, newspapers, and magazines, as well as selected blogs (something tells me I’m not going to make any money off Kindle, but maybe Huffington and Malkin will…). What we need is an easy to use device that allows us to download pdfs and read them like books, with search functions as well as text selection for cutting and pasting. If it could be integrated with a word processing program that would pull the citation and bibliographic info with the selected text into a document, that would be great. But as I see it, Kindle is more of a replacement for beach books and newspapers/magazines. But I think something like what I’ve described is in the forseeable future.

    Harry Smeltzer

    December 17, 2007 at 8:59 pm

  2. Harry,

    Couldn’t agree more with the need for the device you described. I remain hopeful and ready to adopt.


    Rene Tyree

    December 18, 2007 at 12:11 am

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