Thursday, March 05, 2009

iPod Kindle and Free "Red Mars"

I've jumped on the Amazon Kindle bandwagon without having to buy a Kindle. That's because Amazon has released its free "Kindle for iPhone" application which also works on the iPod Touch. I downloaded and installed the app (it actually caused iTunes to lock up twice, so I ended up downloading it from the iTunes Store on the iPod itself via wifi).

It's similar in operation to the eReader application I've used to read various short stories and a few books on the iPod, though it's simpler (and maybe buggier) than eReader. I try to avoid 1.0 software but I was anxious to try this.

Then I needed something to read with it, so I searched through the many free books (mostly older, public domain stuff) and downloaded a couple of works on Darwin by T.H. Huxley (from late 19th century). Continuing with Darwin for some reason, I found a historical novel called Darwin's Dreams by Sean Hoade. It's a fact-based but fictional account of Darwin's "Beagle" years, and it had a couple of good reviews, so for $3.99 for the Kindle edition, I bought it (via the Safari browser on the iPod). In a few seconds it showed up on my Kindle home page. Cool. I browsed some more and found a book I had been meaning to buy and read sometime, Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I love Stephenson's writing, but his books are huge and not very travel friendly (Anathem is 960 pages). Not a problem with Kindle on the iPod (but 16,000 iPod size pages is a lot of flicking). This book was the typical best seller or recent book price of $9.99, but considering that Anathem is still only in hard cover for $20 on Amazon (paperback due in August), it's not too bad. And very portable.

That should have satisfied my need for "something to read" on the Kindle app, but I kept searching and found something unexpectedly good and free, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Not sure why it's free (loss leader?), but it's a great book I will be happy to re-read sometime, and now I've got it in my portable library. So all I need is time, which an upcoming trip to Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan will soon provide.

Reading on the iPod is really pretty comfortable, and I just confirmed that I can play music and simultaneously read with the Kindle app. So I'll have plenty of light weight reading material for my Asia trip, though I will still carry a few paperbacks for backup.


seanhoade said...

Hi! I'm the author of Darwin's Dreams, and I just wanted to say thanks for reading!

FlyingSinger said...

Hi Sean, thanks for commenting. I'm looking forward to reading it in the next two weeks on a trip to China and Taiwan. It looks really cool and I will probably write about it more after I read it.