Sunday, August 26, 2012

A few ebooks that I've enjoyed

My primary reader is now A Sony which I am very happy with. Plays View from the Veranda  and the like when I'm not in the mood to read.

I did have a Kindle app on my smart phone but it died with my phone and the PC version seems to have gone with it to my dismay so there are a couple of interesting books whose details aren't easily found again..

The following free ebooks are some of the ones I have enjoyed. They are all available in epub or pdf but some are also available in Kindle.

Cavalry  by Lewis Edward Nolan

Memoirs of W T Sherman

Tin Army of the Potomac

Service with the French Army in Africa  by Philip Kearny

Adventures of the Connaught Rangers by William Gratton

Commentaries on the Punjab Campaign 1848-49 by A Lawrence.

The Mexican War by an English Soldier.


  1. Just looked at Tin Army of the Potomac, what a brilliant find, thanks for sharing this with us.

    All the best, Brian

    1. Yeah the text is ok but the illustrations are great.Does leave one wondering if the author really did use a boy's toy soldiers to teach him history or if its all just a nice thought and a chance for a toy soldier enthusiast to celebrate.

  2. Ross - I'm interested that you have a Sony reader - I've had a PRS 505 for a couple of years, and I was beginning to suspect that I had the only Sony in existence. I use it almost exclusively for free downloads - mostly pdf format from Google Books and similar. I don't use epub books from these sources because the OCR transcriptions are distractingly poor - especially for 19th Century type faces, and especially for French texts. One day the world of US technology must get the hang of the fact that there are strange, foreign people who use accented characters and all that.

    Main problem with the pdfs on my machine is that they tend to be in exhaustingly small fonts, and I can't change the display size. My wife has a first-series Kindle, and I am impressed by the display (much better) and the battery life. I am less interested in getting glued permanently into Amazon as a supplier, and don't fully understand the procedure for getting pdf stuff onto the Kindle from elswhere. I did consider getting a Kindle as well, but there seems something wrong with having 2 e-readers.

    I think that the Kindle has really fired up the market in e-books, but they may also have changed it so that there is very little around for other machines. Sony's own library of books that you actually pay for (aaargh!) is sparse and expensive. I haven't looked at my e-reader for about a month - I didn't take it on holiday (first time), and I am not sure where I am with it. I had a number of things on it (Sauzey's books on the Confederation of the Rhine, Marmont's Memoires) which I eventually purchased in paper form because it is so much easier to read.

    I'd be very interested in making better use of the 505, but it seems to be a poor relation.

    Cheers - Tony

    1. I was originally going to go Kindle since I had been using the app on my smartphone but it seemed like more of the books I was interested in came as epub than kindle and the library system lends epub books. So if I ever get around to signing up, more ebooks than I'll ever read. I actually went looking for a Kobo but the touch screen and ipod capabilities won me over.

      I agree on the translation on older fonts. I've been working through Wilson's report on Napoleon in Egypt and between the mis-translated letters (which are at least consistent) and the political anti-bonapartist, anti-French propaganda, its hard slogging.

      I also find pdf hard to read either too small or zoomed so far that you are constantly shifting the page about in annoying fashion. The laptop remains a better platform for reading them. I go full page, rotate the text 90 degrees and hold my laptop like a large, heavy book. Tapping the mouse pad to turn the pages.

      For the more modern (as in 1840 on) books, the epub seems to work ok despite occasional lapses which the brain usually slides over fairly easily. I was tempted by the colour version till I realized it would glare in the sun and ate battery life like crazy. So b&w it is but the pictures still come out well.

      I download books to my laptop from google, gutenberg and a few other sites as I find them and then transfer the files from laptop to the Sony reader using the provided USb cable which is also used for charging. Its a PRST2HRC touch screen, wifi capable (though not worth using on regular basis - slow, awkward and eats batteries but still good to have )

    2. Thanks for that. If I was ever to have the operation to permit me to buy Apple products, it did occur to me that the iPad might be just the very thing for reading pdf books - in fact the iPad might might be the one thing that could threaten the dominance of Kindle-type file formats.

      Cheers - Tony

    3. Tony/Ross - you may want to consider the use of Calibre to get round your problem - Calibre is a free library management application that allows you to manage the content of your reading device, better still allows you to save a file in different formats... I've just set up a virtual ebook library on my blog where I'm collecting all these suggestions in a single place (have added yours Ross).. there's a link to Calibre there as well... Tony is right by the way, the Potomac book is just fantastic! :o)

    4. Thanks Steve. Sounds like a good resource. Had a quick look at Calibre looks like it may be handy translating some Kindle books I can;t find again. The page on fixing/translating pdf's didn't sound encouraging. They may be best left for laptop/tablet

  3. I concur about the Tin Army of the Potomac, great find, Ross.

    I really enjoy the Kindle although I agree about the inconvenience of the pdf files. I have found that if the text is read in landscape mode, it makes reading the small fonts easier. And some of the mobi files from the free sites are so badly transcribed as to be illegible.

    My main complaints about the Kindle are twofold. First, even at home with a strong signal the Wi-Fi actually works maybe 10% of the time. Meaning most of my downloads have to be to the computer first. Secondly, Kindle isn't very good at maps/ilustrations, the sorts of books such as military history which are enhanced by frequent references to the maps are better read on paper.

    Still, hard to beat the compactness and convenience of it. Last year, we took a month long trip to Europe, the Kindle was a brilliant improvement over toting a pile of books. Most of my fiction reading is done on the Kindle these days.


    1. Yup, mine actually fits in the pocket of my pants. (which most "pocket books" don;t) I still prefer paper books but happy to have both.