Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Save a Tree, Read an eBook

In my last post, you'll noticed that I urged you to buy the March issue of Asimov's. However, it's April now. They're off the shelves. However can you pick one up?

All of the magazines that I'll review here (Analog, Asimov's, Baen's, F&SF, and Interzone) are available in eBook editions. They're also available in a wide variety of formats. It is beyond easy to pick any of them up, with or without a subscription.

I read all of these on my eBook device: the orginal eBook. I've been using it for more than two years now, and I love it. It's much cheaper than either Sony's eReader or Amazon's Kindle. It may be backlighted, but the battery lasts more than twenty hours, takes less than two to recharge, I can highlight passages, search for notes or text, take notes on it, bookmark, and I've never been able to fill up more than 60% of its memory. I take it everywhere. I particularly like downloading text files from Project Gutenberg, uploading them to the eBook, and reading them there. It supports the file formats: plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), Microsoft Word documents (.doc), HTML (.htm or .html), and Rocket eBook Editions (.rb).

However, even if you don't have a dedicated eBook reader, you can still enjoy electronic copies of all these magazines:

Baen's Universe They publish six issues a year. $30 for a year's subscription, $6 for an individual issue. They're available in: Mobipocket, (palm/blackberry/symbion,etc.) (.prc); RTF, PDF, Microsoft Reader (.lit), Rocket E-Book (.reb), HTML (as a .zip file).

The other four are all available from FictionWise. Analog is $4/issue or $33 for a year; same for Asimov's; F&SF runs $4.50/issue or $37 subscription; and Interzone is $5/issue and $24 subscription (they publish 6 issues a year). And they just keep adding more formats; generally they're available for Kindle, Palm pilots, Sony eReader, PDF, Microsoft Reader, eBook, Franklin eBookMan, iSilo, Mobipocket and hiebook (whatever that last one is).

I understand all the objections to eBooks, and lord only knows I haven't given up physical books. Wider selection, ease of reading in the tub, etc. However, especially for the fiction digests, you may want to give it a chance. Reading them electronically, you never have to worry about finding them, or having them stack up on a shelf somewhere. You're supporting the markets that bring us the short fiction that keeps the field vital, and reading short fiction from a screen is easier on the eyes than reading a whole novel (although I have no problem reading long novels from any kind of screen now).

So this is my Earth Day post pimping my all-time favorite tech toy, my beloved eBook. I hope that this will give folks out there some food for thought and some specific resources if they want to dip their toes into the electronic fiction market.


Kaz Augustin said...

In addition to digests that you've mentioned, you can also get all kinds of shorter fiction (i.e. anything less than novel-length) more readily in electronic format. Anything shorter than 80K is normally too expensive to print, but not expensive to produce electronically. There are a lot of standalone novellas out there, just waiting to be discovered! :)

Karen Burnham said...

Thanks, very good point. Along those lines I'd point people to Free Speculative Fiction which publishes released & out-of-copyright short stories online.

Also, SFSignal has been keeping track of all the Hugo-nominated short fiction that has become available for free.