I read a lot of ebooks. Since I don’t have an ereader, I spend a lot of time at the computer. Depending on the individual book, I may read it on the author’s site or some other place on the web. If it’s downloadable, I read it either in Calibre or the desktop Kindle app. Mostly, I read fiction, so the possible benefits of an ereader over print hadn’t made themselves known — until today.
In the course of doing research about historical and contemporary slavery, I’m currently reading Kevin Bales’ Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. It’s an excellent book, but has very little about slavery in the United States. What? You didn’t know there’s slavery here in our very own shining example of freedom? Right now, in the 21st century? Time to get educated. I’ll have a link or two at the bottom of this post.
Anyway — I decided to put another of Bales’ books on my buying/reading list. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in American Today is in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle. I’ve become a big fan of Amazon’s downloadable samples, which have helped me avoid some real dogs. But The Slave Next Door is the first nonfiction sample I’ve downloaded. And even though it’s only 27 pages, most of which is taken up with the introductory material and TOC, there’s a lot of meat. The note taker and underliner in me was rubbing its hands, so I got to work. And what I suddenly realized is that highlighting and making notes in an ebook beats doing the same in a print book — by a very large margin.
Have you ever gone through a print book, looking for the exact quote or fact you want to use? You’ve underlined it, maybe made a note in the margin, even dog-eared the page. But you still have to go through the entire book to find it. In the Kindle app, and I assume, other software and physical ereaders, all the notes and highlights are grouped together. Click on the bookmark icon, and there are my notes and highlights, along with the links to the pages they’re on. Nonfiction print just took a step into obsolescence, as far as I’m concerned.
It’s still early days, though. I’m not going to find everything I want in ebook format. And used print books may be easier on my tight budget. But it’s the wave of the future. Disposable People is an older book, and it isn’t available as an ebook. I really wish it was, because it’s a bit on the heavy side, and it’s sometimes awkward trying to underline and make notes. Kind of quaint and old-fashioned, really.
Modern Slavery: People for Sale (good intro to the subject)