Early this spring, I spent some time considering how I could continue reading and acquiring books, without buying a bigger house and more book shelves. My bookshelves were full. With seven avid readers in the household, this tends to happen. We donate books to the library, and the school occasionally has a book drive… but so many of our books are keepers! I tried not reading anymore, but that wasn’t particularly satisfactory. That’s when I began to think about e-readers. I’d seen them for sale, and been intrigued by them, but it had never dawned on me before that they might have a practical benefit for my life. Ebooks don’t take up much shelf space.
So I downloaded the free Kindle app for my computer, and tried it out. I was impressed, and my husband even more so. He was thrilled to discover that he could carry a whole library around on his laptop.
And he was even more thrilled when he realized that he never had to worry about damaging, ruining, or losing a book again. We have filled several dumpsters with books over the years, ruined from various floods. Books in the Cloud are immune to flooding, even if the device one reads them on is not.
Eventually, I decided that I wanted a dedicated device for reading. I looked at the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, because I liked the bonus of portable web access. The reviews I checked out said they were both quite good, but the Kindle Fire had an edge for movies and music, and the Nook Tablet had an edge for personalization. I didn’t want to watch movies; I wanted to read books. And I liked the way the Nook Tablet looked and felt, and the physical controls… so I bought myself a Nook.
I fell in love immediately. This is reading! If only I had had one of these when I was in college. Ebooks are portable. I can carry thousands of ebooks with me, everywhere I go, in the space of one largeish paperback. I can make notes on the text, bookmark or highlight passages I like, and I can search any text in the book. Indexes are obsolete in ebooks, because the entire book is searchable. It would have saved me hours in school studying and researching assignments. Literally hours and days.
Because ebooks do not take up shelf space on store shelves, the long tail of book availability is building up beautifully. Books that have been out of print for years are available, often for free. Newly published specialty books are as easy to acquire as New York Times bestsellers. Literally millions of titles are available in moments, on every conceivable topic. To a reader, it’s paradise.
There is, however, a wee bit of trouble in paradise…. many out-of-print, public-domain books have been scanned, but not proofread. And so it can be frustrating, reading the text. Lots of typos…. The sort only a computer can make. I’ve read sentences that were completely indecipherable. Somewhere between “wicli” and “G4d”, my years as a professional editor came boiling out: “This is completely unacceptable! Who edited this?!” And the answer, of course, is: No one.
Editing is a need I can fill. There are centuries of books by and about Quakers and the Religious Society of Friends that deserve to be available, in a format that is clean of typos and easy to read. Gypsy Bees Publishing will be scanning and proofreading public domain books of interest about Quakerism. We believe that we can make that long tail more beautiful.