Instapaper, e-readers, & some articles I've enjoyed recently--

More than books, I've been using my Nook to read longer articles--massive blog posts or long-form journalism that I've saved in my Bloglines account to (supposedly) read some day. Instapaper rocks my world. I've known about it for a long time, but--like the articles--never got around to trying it out. Getting the Nook was a long-overdue push to do so.

If you're not yet familiar with Instapaper, it works like this: you set up a free account at Instapaper, and can either add an Instapaper button to your browser, or manually enter links (while signed into your Instapaper account) to online articles you want to read. The articles stay saved there until you decide to download or print them. You can download them to read on a Kindle, or in ePub format to read on other e-readers (like the Nook); you can print them, or you can read them right there at Instapaper (minus all the distracting ads and clutter that surrounded them at their home on the net). I have a hard time reading long articles online--I'm one of those folks for whom e-ink really is easier on the eyes--and Instapaper in tandem with the Nook means I'm reading longer articles again. It's ridiculously easy to use, and it means I have a steady free stream of fantastic non-book content to read on the Nook.

Some pieces I've recently enjoyed and recommend:

*"The Surprising Satisfactions of a Home Funeral" by Max Alexander (Smithsonian, March 2009)

*"Google's Book Search: a Disaster for Scholars" by Geoffrey Nunberg (Chronicle, August 2009) (a smart and entertaining look at troubled metadata at Google Books)

*"Spar" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2009) (a deservedly award-winning science fiction short story)

*"Washington, We Have a Problem" by Todd Purdum (Vanity Fair, September 2010) (on a US president's day in the age of 24-hour news, among other impediments. This made me a little more sympathetic to the current administration, and to any future administration--it's astonishing how many barriers there are to getting anything accomplished these days in Washington. We absolutely do have a problem, unless something gives. Highly recommended)

*"Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do When It Can't Save Your Life?" by Atul Gawande (New Yorker, 8/2/10) (Of all of these, this is the one I'd most strongly urge--physically, if I had to--people to read. Important stuff)

In other e-reader news: you can now (haven't tried yet) get Lifehacker and other Gawker blogs in your e-reader via Calibre, and digitizing your own books is becoming popular in Japan, creating demand for more bookscanning-friendly scanners. I'd love to be able to put some of my favorite books that aren't yet (and many never be) available in ebook form on the Nook. If you're interested in more ebook news, TeleRead is an excellent blog for it.

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