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What’s it got on its iPod?
I have been reading on my iPod for a few months now. I can’t make the leap to Kindle, partly because I don’t like the idea of being tied into Amazon (or B&N or any big chain book store), but also because I resist the fact of another stand-alone electronic device to have to worry about losing, recharging, maintaining, and so on. The iPod, so far, is satisfying. It’s multifunctional. I have my photos, my music, my podcast subscriptions. It even works as a flash light. Although last night when I got home, deep into a re-read of a Bronte novel, and had to charge, rather than take the “book” to bed, I keenly felt one of the limitations.
According to the New York Times today there were over a 100 different eReaders available at a recent trade show in Las Vegas. The question is what are they reading? I have a feeling it isn’t poetry. Dickinson, Eliot—the poetry I have on my iPod, via Stanza, my app of choice, is from the impressive, but limited selection available through Project Gutenberg. These are largely books I already have in my library, and even as pdfs on my lap top. I keep looking for ways to get at contemporary poetry for my iPod though: I have a feeling that this is a good match. Problem is there is very little poetry out there. I checked eReader, another popular app for the iPhone and iPod, but of the 40 titles that came up for poetry many of them were David Lehman’s Best American Poetry series (including 1997, my favorite). There was, if I recall some Poe, as well as a few thematic anthologies, but no single titles.
Coach House, my venerable press located on bp Nichol Lane in Toronto, always has one finger in the past and one in the future. While it still makes gorgeous books in house (yes, with stacks of paper and printers churning away), it has also, over the years, found ways to use the Internet to deliver and promote books. Now they are making etexts available. The problem for me is how do I get the etext versions of a Coach House book—or any other poetry book—onto my iPod? I read from pdfs on my laptop, but that kind of reading is usually for research rather than leisurely reading. This fall when I misplaced my copy of Lyn Hejinian’s Language of Inquiry for example, and needed to read a chapter before the next morning, I bought an ebook in a few seconds. It was linked to Adobe Digital Editions, an app that I found clumsy and slow and won’t use again. So, the Hejinian book remains outside of my virtual library. That’s something I want to avoid–the building of multiple digital libraries.
While I didn’t enjoy reading it in that format, I do like reading on my iPod, and I do like the quick delivery. What does all this mean? A cursory search tells me that both Stanza and eReader have been acquired by Amazon so the myth of getting an alternative reader is probably just that. And while those two readers remain free, they likely won’t be for long. I am resisting the monetized app for the moment, not because I don’t want to pay for books, but because I want to figure out which platform, or app, or whatsit, is going to best let me access the books I want to read in that format.
The book arrives in one format or another. Etexts may be next, hopefully they won’t be the last. Meanwhile you tell me—what have you got on your iPod? Any poetry?