Friday, 23 January 2015

The Kobo

The what? It’s an anagram of ‘Book’ and it’s what’s called an e-reader; slightly smaller than a thin paperback, electronic, with a surprisingly ink-on-paper like screen, and a capacity of, they say, 1,000 books. I imagine they’re counting on people’s books not being Proust, the King Kames Bible, Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall’, etc., but anyway it can hold a lot. ‘Oh, you mean a Kindle!’ Well, very like that, but mercifully Amazon-free. Of course, its manufacturers have a site full of e-books for sale and they’re hoping you will buy them to put in your Kobo, but they don’t hassle you to do so and I have learnt how to put in books that are available free, legitimately, on the internet, in e-reader friendly format. The best source of these is the splendid ‘Project Gutenberg’ which I very much recommend. Its thousands of out-of-copyright titles are also available in ‘text only’ and HTML formats, so that you can also download, convert to ‘Word’ for a decent typeface, and print, or, if you can tolerate it, even just read on the screen of your computer.

Anyway, my newly-acquired Kobo (they cost about £60) is the next ‘book’ on my bedside shelf. It’s early days yet and I’m still getting used to it, so in Kobo terms I haven’t put much in it: current contents are:

Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Hunting of the Snark’.
The Kobo Touch User Guide.
Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Mirror of the Sea’.
Conrad’s ‘The Secret Sharer’.
Gaston Leroux’s ‘Mystery of the Yellow Room’ in English translation.
Sacher-Masoch’s ‘Venus in Furs’ in English translation.
Thomas Martin’s ‘The Inventions etc. of Nikola Tesla’.
A selection of articles from the London Review of Books.
Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’ in English translation.
Coleridge’s ‘Biographia Literaria’.
Maugham’s ‘Of Human Bondage’.
‘Flood Songs’ (Details later when I get round to looking at it.)
Thoreau’s ‘Walden’.
Meredith’s ‘The Tragic Comedians’.

And all, as I say, in something smaller and thinner than any paperback.

Here’s a photograph of the thing, propped up on the ashtray next to my laptop:

(That glare on the screen is caused by my camera's flash; the thing itself is much clearer than that.)

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