Warbreaker

Warbreaker So I have to thank Angel for recommending this book to me. It was really a lot of fun! As the first book I read on my Kindle, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson was extremely entertaining and not long at all. One of the reasons I chose to read this book first was because it was a stand-alone book, while all the other recommendations I had were series for 3+ books. I didn’t want to start a series when I wasn’t sure if I would have the determination to complete. Chad says I have commitment issues and it’s not the 1st time he’s said that about me. Maybe it’s true, but I dislike starting something and not completing it, be it a game, book, or life in general. What better way to not have to deal with that than to avoid it? ;p

As a test drive for reading, I think I overdid it. I’m already short on the amount of personal leisure time, so when reading came into play, I found it contending with my watching TV/exercise time. And when I tried to do both, I ended up going to bed around 5am.

Brandon Anderson is actually giving away this book for free on his website: WARBREAKER Rights and Downloads available in PRC and PDF formats. Unfortunately the final edition is only available in PDF which doesn’t have the nice Kindle formatting. I tried converting it to the Kindle format, but it just didn’t turn out right. I ended up paying the $3 to get the Kindle edition and was not disappointed.

After reading this book, I highly look forward to his Mistborn series, but for the time being, I need to catch up on sleep. Someone also recommended another book of his: The Way of Kings. I was shocked to find out that was going to be part of a 10-book series.

I haven’t really talked much about the book yet, but I’ll try my best to not spoil much. The premise is about the tension between 2 kingdoms: Idris and Halladren. Idris promised Halladren their King’s daughter when she came of age. She would become the Queen of Halladren, wife to the GodKing, and bear his child who’d become the next GodKing. The events that unfold from that point reveal an amazing story.

Another neat thing about the Kindle is that I can clip passages from the book (Kindle calls it highlights) and it’ll automatically upload it to their server for me to retrieve later. Here are some of my favorite passages:

<SPOILERS>

she knew that Parlin fancied her. During their youth, he’d often brought her gifts from the forest. Usually, those had taken the form of some animal he’d killed. To Parlin’s mind, nothing showed affection like a hunk of something dead and bleeding on the table.

“So you’re just going to kidnap me?” “Gods, no,” Denth said. “Bad business, that. How do you make money at it? Every time you kidnap someone worth the ransom, you upset people a whole lot more powerful than you are.” “Don’t make important people angry,” Tonk Fah said, yawning. “Unless you’re getting paid by people who are even more powerful.” Denth nodded. “And that isn’t even considering the feeding and care of captives, the exchanging of ransom notes, and the arranging of drop-offs. It’s a headache, I tell you. Terrible way to make money.”

“Can I break his fingers?” She frowned. “No!” “Not even the unimportant ones?” Tonk Fah asked. “I mean, people have five after all. The little ones don’t even do that much.”

Once again, Lightsong’s servants found themselves separated from their god. They clustered uncertainly on the grass—like a group of children abandoned by their parents.

The door slammed open. Vivenna jumped, putting a hand to her chest. Vasher walked in. “Start reaching for that sword when you’re startled,” he said. “There’s little reason to grab your shirt, unless you’re planning to rip it off.”

“If we get into a fight, and you get in the way, then it will be more difficult. If we get into a fight and half of them attack you instead of me, it will make things easier.”

In just a few seconds, he had constructed three little men from the straw and some thread, […] One of the straw men began to jump up and down. The other two rushed over to it and then they began to bounce as well.

The tiny straw man imagery was just too cute! Seeing little straw men jumping up and down in my head really made my day.

</SPOILERS>

While reading, the character Lightsong really stood out to me. It wasn’t because he was awesome and great (not that he wasn’t), but my image of him reminded me of something familiar. It was like I’ve seen his character before, both in physical appearance and the way he acted. Even after finishing the book, I was unable to pinpoint where I’ve seen Lightsong before.

However, in a dream, it finally occurred to me that Lightsong reminded me of Shoryu from 12 Kingdoms (十二国記 Juuni Kokki). If you don’t remember (and I didn’t remember his name was Shoryu), Shoryu was the emperor of En. He may have put up a carefree front, but people who truly knew him knew he was a very reliable emperor.

Shoryu from 12 Kingdoms

This is how Lightsong appeared to look like in my head, of course with different clothing.

If you asked if all my imagined characters were anime characters or had anime attributes, I would have to say no. The GodKing in this series looked very much like typical Zeus in my head.

Another funny thing is that neither my version of Siri or Vivenna look like the girl in the cover art, even though I saw the cover art before I actually started reading. Haha.

My New Kindle

Kindle

So when the new WiFi only Kindle was announced for $140, I knew I had to get one. I’ve been wanting to get back into reading for some time. The last 2 fiction books I read were by Ursula Le Guin (Earthsea) and I had a lot of fun. I found out that I really missed my imagination.

Kindle vs Nook

The WiFi only edition was sold out really quickly when it was first introduced, but I was allowed to place a back-order. After announcing on Facebook that I was going to get a Kindle, several people had recommended I get the Nook instead because it supported the ePub format which apparently many libraries uses. Wikipedia has a good chart on what formats are supported by different e-Readers.

After looking at the nook and researching on possible workarounds for getting the Kindle to work with other formats, I opted for the Kindle. The Kindle has 3x the battery life and weighs 28% less while maintaining the same sized screen. Maybe the next generation Nook would be better, but at $140, I decided not to wait.

Amazon’s Conversion Service

Amazon has this conversion service where you can email documents to a special email address specifically assigned to your Kindle and it’ll convert to a format that your Kindle can consume. When I was first reading about it, it looked like they charged a small fee for this service. Later I found out that it only costs money if you get the document over 3G. It’s free via WiFi and I have a WiFi only model.

Free Books

The Kindle store has its own Free Books Collections, starting with conversions of popular classics to limited time promotional offers. It also points you to other popular sites to get free books such as Internet Archive, Open Library, Project Gutenberg, and ManyBooks.net.

Initially I was adding free books like crazy to my Kindle, but then I just ended up removing most of them as they just added a lot of clutter.

Asking for Book Recommendations

So I’ve been asking around for book recommendations. Matt recently asked a very similar question on Twitter and I piggy-backed on some of the replies he got. I also got some recommendations from Jeremy. So far I have:

  • The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
  • The Ender’s/Shadow series by Orson Scott Card
  • The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
  • A couple books by Neal Stephenson

I also added The Way of Kings and Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson to my list. While looking up on Warbreaker, I found out that he was actually giving away the digital copy of the book on his website: WARBREAKER Rights and Downloads. I was reading up on his experiment with this book and it was rather interesting what he did.

Samples

One thing neat about the Kindle store is that you can sample books before deciding on purchasing. Pretty much withing seconds after clicking on the sample button, it’s already on my Kindle. It’s that simple. I was surprised the sample actually contains ~20% of the book. I guess if you’ve invested your time reading ~20% of the book, you’re pretty much going to get the book.

Getting Mobipocket eBooks to Work on the Kindle

I had gotten my library card for the King County Library System not too long ago and decided to check out how their eBook system worked. The Overdrive system allows you to download books in 2 formats: PDF or Mobipocket. Unfortunately the Kindle doesn’t support PDFs with DRM, but as I was reading up on Mobipocket, apparently Amazon’s proprietary azw format is a derivative of prc (Mobipocket). In fact, you can generate a Mobipocket PID base off your Kindle’s serial number.

Searching online, I had found this blog post: Mobipocket books on Kindle, which provided scripts on how to find out your Mobipocket PID as well as convert the prc to azw format. Reading the comments, someone decided to build a GUI around this: MobiKindle, which works rather well. My only complaint is that it requires me to enter my Kindle serial number every time I restart the application.

Now I can check-out eBooks from the library and read them on my Kindle.

Do note, this software will NOT remove the DRM. It’s just taking advantage of the fact that Amazon’s azw format is essential Mobipocket’s prc format with a bit flipped somewhere.

Calibre

Most places that talk about the Kindle also refer to this Calibre software, which is sort of like a eBook library management application. It contains several built-in converters, connects directly to your e-Reader device, and even talks to Amazon’s email conversion service. It makes it easy for me to back up eBooks and copy them around if needed.

I’ve tried converting several PDFs through Calibre and it does a decent job, but the formatting is usually messed up. I haven’t really tried converting other document types. Calibre also doesn’t handle DRM protected eBooks.

Mobi2Mobi

One of the books I checked out from the library didn’t list the author and I’m somewhat OCD about things like this. So I decided to figure out how to fix that. I thought Calibre would be able to do it since I can actually modify metadata in its library. For some reason I couldn’t get it to work on the azw file I generated. Maybe because it’s DRM protected?

Searching online, I found this application called Mobi2Mobi, which seemed to do what I wanted:

Mobi2mobi is particularly useful in fixing the missing or incorrect Metadata. It may be used on DRM’d ebooks converted using Kindlefix which sometimes causes the metadata to get mangled or on books you’ve downloaded directly from Amazon. It can also be used manipulate the metadata to display in a different way (author “lastname, firstname” or for book organization).

Getting News Articles onto Kindle

There have been several very long New York Times pieces I’ve been meaning to read and I thought it might be worth it to see if I could get them onto the Kindle. The process would be to print the document to PDF and send it to Amazon’s conversion service.

I use PrimoPDF as my PDF printer and it allows me to print to a custom paper size. I’ve found that 90mm x 110mm works really well with the Kindle display. I also disabled headers/footers as it added unnecessary junk to every page.

New York Times on Kindle

There’s probably a better way to do this, but for now this works for me.

Conclusion

So far I’ve only spent a couple hours reading on the Kindle and I really like it. It’s light and easy on the eye.

I did find the page forward/back buttons a bit unintuitive initially. I kept hitting the big left button to go back, but it was really just another forward button. The back button is the little button above the big forward button. However I’m guessing this would become more natural as I use it more.

All in all, I’m having a lot of fun using it and at the end of the day, that’s really what counts.