September 29, 2011

"Look, if you put the Internet on the device I am supposed to be using to read, I will never read again."

"Can you blame me? I am only human. I can’t focus. If all these studies about multitasking have taught us anything, it is that we all think we can multitask but no one actually can.... It’s not that people will stop reading. We do vast amounts of reading online every day — the equivalent of a good Hemingway novel. But it’s not deep but broad, not focused but fast."

Oh, now, now... is Hemingway actually deeper than your favorite blog?


Show your love for reading and for the Althouse blog by buying your Kindle Fire here.


Fred4Pres said...

I recommended Kindle Fire as a possible Christmas present and the kids said they want ipads or nothing.


Nothing it is. I may get one however. If only to download those free out of copywrite books (is the rumor true they are available at Amazon?).

michaele said...

For the first time in a long time, I have devoted some daily time to reading a book from the library, So Much For That by Lionel Shriver. It actually takes some self control to ignore the siren call of blogs and news feeds. My brain wants to speed read but I am forcing it to slow down and take in the beauty of the carefully composed sentences.

Fred4Pres said...

Mary, she is suggesting that if you do decide to buy one you do so through the Amazon icon on the blog, then Ann gets a small commission.

Doesn't cost you any more and it is only if you want to buy a kindle.

Win Win.

Triangle Man said...

(is the rumor true they are available at Amazon?).

Yes. Free books.

John Lynch said...

Much of life is knowing what to filter out.

Scott M said...

"And I read the book and said it was a good book, but that it COULD be a great book. And we laughed over that. And Hemmingway punched me in the mouth."

Woody Allen's only stand-up album is a must listen if you like stand-up.

Triangle Man said...


From this link you can get Walt Whitman's Kindle Editions for free, and Althouse gets her 7% cut.

Salamandyr said...

Barnes & Noble has had the Nook Color out for over a year. Amazon is just catching up. And as two of my lovely in-laws are employed by B&N, I will be sticking with them.

Fred4Pres said...

Salamandyr, not for long. B&N will be pulling a Borders pretty soon. It is doomed.

At least that is what the Borders guy told me when he helped me dismantle a shelving unit at the Borders near me. He basically described how Borders ruined itself, how B&N is not far behind, and how Amazon basically finished them both off. YMMV.

Rick Lee said...

I can understand this person's fear of the Internet distraction... I'm sure that's going to be a problem for a lot of people. But as I've said in other comments here before, since I started reading books on my iPhone, (Kindle app, plus other book apps) the amount of "book reading" I'm doing has skyrocketed.

Paddy O said...

I thought you weren't a Kindle fan.

We need vbspurs back for a bit to give a Kindle fan Fire reaction

Ann Althouse said...

@Paddy. I had a problem with the gray on gray screen of the original model. I need strong contrast.

xnar said...

Will I still have access to the shocking meat video?

robinintn said...

Fred, not only are there lots of free books, but you can go to Amazon now and download the "Kindle for PC" app and use it on your computer. No purchase necessary! (Although I sure would like one of these here newfangled Kindle Fires.)

John Bragg said...

I predict that the Kindle Fire will not replace the Kindle Classic because of battery life. Kindle readers are going to be surprised how used we've gotten to indefinite battery life.

Titus said...

My husband bought me an Ipad2 because I wanted one and I haven't touched it.

What should I be doing with my Ipad2?


Peter said...

IF I were buying a Kindle Fire, I'd buy it through Althouse's link.

BUT, really, I'm not going to. Sure, it's cheap enough. But it's another closed box and I surely don't need it. Nor am I sure I want to be just one quick click away from Amazon's store.

And, yes, I do still read lots of paper books. Internet browsing is ot a substitute for the slower-paced but deeper experience of reading a real book.

Titus said...

I went out with friends last night and they are into this website, I forgot the name, but it is some gay hooking up site and when you pop up the screen of the individuals posting, almost always shirtless, it tells you exactly how far away they are from you.

Some of them were 10 feet away from us so actually in the lounge. Others were 500 feet. The distance lets you know how fast you can get to their place to have your hog sucked. Amazing.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, I don't think there is a lot of deep reading going on anyway, and I don't even know what that is, so how common can it be?

Maybe a romance novel could be called deep, at least in places.

Donald Douglas said...

'Oh, now, now... is Hemingway actually deeper than your favorite blog?'

Or actually deeper than Althouse!!??

Titus said...

The gay bar is really dead.

It's all about "mixed" small little lounges where you can actually sit and talk to people. Food is served late night and a restaurant is connected to the lounge. Lots of straights mingle with fags. I had Momos last night on 647 Tremont, which is where my friends and I hangout in Boston.

No more standing around like a piece of meat and I am happy about that.

The gay ghetto is dead as well. We have spread our wings. The South End is now baby stroller haven. We have left for Jamaica Plain, Dochester, Southie, East Boston, Chelsea, Somerville, Arlington, Watertown, Newton, Brookline and Chestnut Hill.

traditionalguy said...

Try free audio books at


C R Krieger said...

Althouse is deeper...

Regards  —  Cliff

SpinningStar said...

My library system just announced e books from Amazon for the Kindle. Previously, the ebooks were limited to the other readers.

So, in addition to the free books at Amazon, I'll be able to get the current titles from the library.

Not a bad deal....

edutcher said...

A lot of books I like - art, other things - graphics are a big part and that means dead tree.

But The Blonde's youngest niece has downloaded her nursing texts (1000+ pages, usually) and she loves it.

If you've got a college student, it's definitely an option.

John Lynch said...

Much of life is knowing what to filter out.

Frederic Remington said the same thing about painting.

Scott M said...

Woody Allen's only stand-up album is a must listen if you like stand-up.

He was still a writer for Carson when he did that and a lot of the bits were premiered late night.

ricpic said...

Titus to do list:

1) Locate piece of meat

2) Have hog sucked

3) Tell myself I'm a terrible person

4) Locate piece of meat.

Lauderdale Vet said...

When my Fire gets here, we'll have 3 kindles in the house.

It sort of boggles the mind.

ricpic said...

Appearances notwithstanding Woody Allen is a tougher cookie than Hemingway ever was.

Lauderdale Vet said...

For you Kindle friendly folk, there is a Daily Kindle Deal page that you might want to bookmark. Ann, maybe you can make a permalink!

Paddy O said...

"I need strong contrast."

Meade makes soooo much more sense now.

richard mcenroe said...

free books, plays, poetry, essays at

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Tell me lies later,
come and see me
I'll be around for a while.
I am lonely but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
Tell me why, tell me why

Its a Neil night.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

ricpic said

"Titus to do list:

1) Locate piece of meat

2) Have hog sucked

3) Tell myself I'm a terrible person

4) Locate piece of meat."

Great stuff!

A favorite Woody line;

'I have a gub'.

deborah said...

The crows lift their caw on the wind,
And the wind changed and was lonely.

Astro said...

"Take the Money and Rub."

Astro said...

No that's "Take the Money and Run". (Sorry, my n's look like b's.)

Psychedelic George said...

"From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reason that no one knows?"

Hemingway, Paris Review Interview

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I may break down and consider a Kindle for Christmas or after the first of the year.

I read books, tangible paper books, constantly. Often I have more than one going at a time.

The idea of free books is enticing.

However, someone in another thread asked why would anyone buy or own real, tangible, paper books when we have all this great new technology.

Books don't need batteries. Books don't have technical failures. Books don't have screens that may fade out or loose readability. Books have a textural feel, sound and smell.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coketown said...

I've tried the gamut of book replacement technologies, from PDFs on computers and tablets to the Nook, and I hate them all. I cannot read on them; I skim. My eyes want to get off the screen for a few seconds of repose before resuming their torturous task. I'm finding computers only suitable for news articles and blog posts. Anything more than, say, 5,000 words is best left on paper.

With paper books, though, I can read for hours without stopping. And things so simple on books--skipping back a few pages if you forgot something, flipping through to your favorite part, making notes, underlining, etc--are so tedious on e-readers and tablets! No thanks.

But would any one really be less inclined to read just because the internet is on their reading device, also? I typically read right next to my computer and never have the impulse to get online--unless it's to research something mentioned in the book for which there is no explanatory note. If your attention span is so deficient that you cannot read without thinking in the back of your mind, "Well, I'm only a few clicks away from the INTERNET" then the fault rests with you and not with Amazon.

MamaM said...

The best of both worlds:

To follow Deborah's quote down the electric trail and pull the Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (1969)off the shelf, read Evening Waterfall, then roam around visiting neighboring poems, coming on those with stars penciled in by a younger woman..

To read Psychedelic George's Hemingway quote online and say "Yes!" without roaming anywhere.

hawaiibear said...

A short time ago, the list of eBooks available was short and pathetic. But with Kindle Fire, Amazon has invested so much in it, things are changing rapidly. Check out The End of The Computer at Amazon. Not a free book. You get what you pay for. This one is worth the eight bucks for this much excitement. Besides, it is a deep one that a person reads over and over.

MattCWM said...

LMAO! Great post. your so right! i find myself getting easily distracted any time there is an interaction with me on the net. I work for an organic flower farm that specializes in Exotic Tropical Flowers so i am not on the Internet often but when i am i get sucked in!!

J said...

Hemingway on A-house?

About as ridiculous as Hemingway on Kindle. Soldier's Home (and many others) wasn't intended for Kindle. Or kindling

jeff said...

"And I read the book and said it was a good book, but that it COULD be a great book. And we laughed over that. And Hemmingway punched me in the mouth."

Eh. I've heard the entire routine. Not that funny. And he telegraphs the punchline from about 10 miles away. Maybe that was what passed for funny back in the 50's and 60's.

J said...

You don't know crap about Hemingway ,A-tards

gbarto said...

I thought I'd find myself reading the free books when I got my Nook, but I'm mostly reading stuff that, oops, I've bought. The two things B&N has going for it: There are a lot of books you can "read in-store" even if they're not in the store, before buying, and you can use their internet for surfing as well as book buying while you drink their coffee. I guess they have a third thing going for them: With their free wi-fi, Starbucks, McDonald's, Peets and a whole lot of other places are like branch Barnes and Nobles, but if your Nook gives you a problem, you can go to a physical B&N for help, and so far every Nook specialist I've worked with has seemed to really know their stuff.

With respect to free e-books, a lot of them aren't OCR'd very well. I prefer to download the PDF scan from Google books and read it with ezPDF. You can do that with a Nook, since you can expand its memory with a microSD card.

A last thought: I thought I'd stick with paper books forever. During the Borders closeout though, I hardly bought anything. With my Nook, I can read non-fiction at lunch, skim references during the day, dip into light fiction after work and only have to carry one thing with me to do it.

Jose_K said...

Books don't have screens that may fade out or loose readability. Books have a textural feel, sound and smell
Smeel? who cares?
texture who cares?
im no fetishist
those are common places by luddites and thinks whithe people like to say.
Books are damaged by water, bugs, rats, fungus. I have lost more physical than electronic books by far

Jose_K said...

And about the Hemingway´s critics. Even if Faulkner was better, whta a bunch of philistines

John said...

I've been reading about 2 books a week since I was 12 years old so about 50 years now.

I had sort of liked the idea of a Kindle but had never thought it would replace books for me. For many of the reasons others have mentioned.

Last September, My son got me a Kindle. I've read 3 books on paper since then. In all three cases it was books not available on Kindle for a writing project I am doing.

I've read about 110 or 120 books on my Kindle. I am completely hooked. The reading experience is so far superior to paper that it is hard to come up with a superlative.

I may buy the tablet though I plan to wait until version 2 comes out. I seriously doubt that it will replace my Kindle for reading. Somebody said that they liked not having the distratction of the internet while reading and I agree that this is one of the reasons I will likely stick to the Kindle even if I get a tablet.

Complaining that the Kindle does not do surfing well or that it is a pretty poor MP3 player is, recalling Conrad "Like criticizing the village church for not being a cathedral"

The Kindle is optimized to do one thing well: Read text based books. I've not been able to think of any way to improve that. Certainly adding color will not help.

John Henry

John said...

For those with Kindles, there is a wonderful application called Send to Reader.

I think it works with other readers but I can only speak to Kindle and it is just about perfect there.

It puts a bookmark on your toolbar. When you run across an article on the web, in a magazine, paper, blog or wherever, click the Send To Reader bookmark.

STR strips out the ads, sidebars and all the other extraneous stuff, formats the body of the article including (most of the time pictures and graphics) and sends it to your Kindle email.

I probably send 3-5 articles every day and it almost never fails.

When you sync your Kindle, the articles appear in the home screen. Click to open and read.

It is free. There is a premium version for money which will allow you to subscribe to things and get them automatically. I've not tried it.

One caveat: When the article is over several pages, you need to call up the single page or print version before hitting STR. That or send each page individually.

John said...

Coketown said:

I'm finding computers only suitable for news articles and blog posts. Anything more than, say, 5,000 words is best left on paper.

I agree, though I would say more like 500-1000 words.

But reading the Kindle is NOTHING like reading on a computer screen. The e-ink is much more like paper.

I suspect that a color ebook reader would be more like reading on a computer and I doubt I would like it anywhere near as much as my Kindle.

John Henry

John said...

Traditional Guy

thanks for the link to audio books.

I used to listen to Books on Tape back in the day when they were on tape. I subscribed to a book every 3 weeks.

Never made the jump to CDs and never cared for Audible's selection or the way my player handles them.

For the past 3-4 years I've been listening to a lot of audio books from

They download as MP3s with each chapter a separate file.

I've been listening to a lot of Anthony Trollope and Jack London but they have a great selection of 20,000 books or so to choose from.

Readers are volunteer and there are a couple that have pretty horrible accents. Most are OK to pretty good to excellent.

You can download the book as a single zip file at 64kb quality. I find that I prefer to download chapter by chapter at 128kb. The sound quality is a bit better.

John Henry

John said...

BTW: Librivox is free

John Henry

Scott M said...

You don't know crap about Hemingway ,A-tards

Why should anyone pay any attention to any whining you do about ad hominem statements?

TheThinMan said...

Poo-pooing Hemingway is so 70s. He got a major downgrade at the time by the new gatekeepers, the feminists. They had never bothered to read him but heard he wrote about stupid guy stuff like war, hunting, fishing and bullfights, so out he went. By the same token, Jane Austen was put on the express elevator and installed on the top floor. But by the 80s, pc-ism turned on these gatekeepers as upper-class white women promoting upper-class white women. Austen got replaced by Alice Walker et al. In the meantime, people started actually reading Hemingway again and saw that, like Austen, he was able to write the whole world into his chosen subject matter.

John said...

J said:

You don't know crap about Hemingway ,A-tards

How would a relatively uneducated Honduran woman like yourself know enough about Hemingway to judge whether us A-Tards know anything about Hemingway or not?

Where do you get your expertise on Hemingway, J? Did you read him in Spanish translation or original English?

John Henry

prairie wind said...

I have lost more physical than electronic books by far

I cannot think of the last time I lost a physical book. My son left a library book on the plane and it was returned to us a couple of months later.

Electronic files, though... When your hard drive crashes, there go the books and music. There are alternatives to storing files on the hard--the cloud looks promising--but figuring all that out takes time. A physical book? It's right THERE. I don't have to store it in three different places just to make sure.

I subscribed to Audible for awhile and bought My Antonia. Still have the file but am unable to listen to it anymore. Could be that a little research will solve my problem with that file, I don't know. What I do know is that My Antonia sits on my bookshelf, ready for me at any time.

And buying mp3 files for music is more like renting the right to play the song. Not at all like buying an album or CD used to be. It takes work to burn songs to CD if you want to loan them out. Not always hard work, and maybe even fun work...but still extra effort just to enjoy/share your music or your books.

I may come around to the Kindle but not yet.

gregq said...

Sorry, not going to buy a product that only has 8 GB of memory, and is really designed only to work with content that someone else controls. Show me a version with an SDHC card reader, and we'll talk.

But I'm not going to spend 20 cents on a device that's only really useful when I have a working internet connection.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Great discussion.

I'm now convinced that I need to get a Kindle now for the reading experience and availability of free and low cost books.

The send to reader ap sounds very useful.

Scott M said...


If you have a smartphone, don't bother. You get all the goodness of the Kindle by simply installing the Kindle app. I haven't read a physical book since February (which I feel a little guilty about, but wtf?) and have read everything on my Droid X.

You can also download the Kindle app for any desktop or laptop computer. Whispersync keeps track of where you are in the book regardless of what you're reading it on, desktop, laptop, or phone.

Why buy another device?

deborah said...

Scott, I think the difference is the e-ink. I'm reading a book on the computer screen (kindle app), and it just doesn't work for me. Don't know quite what it is, but I think eye strain or something, though nothing hurts. Just don't like it.

DBQ, a couple days ago it was mentioned that if you like a bigger font, DX Kindle might be better because you can get less page turns with it. I checked it out yesterday...18 oz and $379, but it has a keyboard...Probably worth it, but maybe I won't want as big a font as I think, if I am looking at e-ink.

Belasarion said...

Sorry Ann, Instapundit linked it yesterday. I've been through 5 or six Kindles and keep a spare. I've purchased about 300 Kindle titles. It fits pretty nicely in the cargo pocket of my 511's. I'm in Iraq and they are very popular here as are other book readers. I like to eat and read and they lie flat and you don't have to set a salt shaker on them to keep the pages from flopping over.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If you have a smartphone, don't bother

No smart phone. I have a retarded phone. Actually, I have a pay as you go cell phone that does nothing but make calls, not even voice mail. There is no one I want to talk to that bad. They can leave a message on my answering machine at the office. I only use it in case I have car trouble, if I'm traveling and to call my husband if we are separated.

My husband for business has a 3G ATT phone that is medium smart. Can take photos, text (which he doesn't know how to do and we put a block on it so we won't get texts because there is no one he wants to hear from) and voice mail. No apps. Forget the internet connection on the phone. Doesn't want it. Doesn't need it on his work phone. Doesn't know how to use it anyway.

Half the time we can't get cell reception anyway due to geography. He has to drive to special areas and park to make or receive any calls. Can't even make a cell phone call in my own driveway.

We do have high speed dsl (amazingly) and set up a wireless network on our property.

I think I need the Kindle so I can read on the deck :-) I was looking at the kindle with the keyboard so I could make notes on the books. Wish there was someplace to go and look at the products and get a hands on experience.

Scott M said...

Given all that, yeah. I'd go with a new device :) My brother has the basic Kindle and loves it. He says a lot of the guys on deployments these days have them. I would have loved to have one back in the 90's when I was deployed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

He says a lot of the guys on deployments these days have them

Someone should start a movement and give every military man and woman on deployment a free Kindle and $300 towards buying books.

Freeman Hunt said...

Bought. Happy anniversary, husband who does not read this blog.

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Alien Tech said...

Barnes & Noble has had the Nook Color out for over a year. Amazon is just catching up. And as two of my lovely in-laws are employed by B&N, I will be sticking with them.
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