Why I Won’t Be Blogging The Hugo Shortlist This Year
This year, an actual majority of the entries in the Hugo Awards have made their Hugo Packet submissions PDF-only. See Charles Stross’ blog post about this from two years ago for why this is a bad thing.
Last year, for those books which were PDF-only, I was able to reflow them in the ereader I had then (an iRiver Story). However, that broke a few days ago (just after the warranty expired, of course), and I discovered that the wonders of market forces now meant that there are only two ereaders (by which I mean e-ink devices which are designed for reading, rather than generic tablets marketed to readers) available in the whole of Manchester — the Kindle and the Kobo. (Actually, there is a third, a Sony ereader which Argos sell, for sixty quid more than the most expensive price I saw for either of the other two).
I bought the Kobo because I’d rather a duopoly than a monopoly, but unlike the iRiver I used to have the Kobo doesn’t have PDF reflow capability.
(This is one reason why Free Software needs to become more prevalent, incidentally — people *want* PDF reflow on the Kobo but can’t get it, and can’t write it themselves. Unfortunately, I know of no eink device that runs a free OS.)
This means that I have the following choices if I want to read the books (those where I even have the option — the books by Mira Grant get as far as the ‘by the same author’ page and then stop):
a) Read them on a computer. I don’t want to do this as I spend enough time staring at a computer anyway, and because I do a lot of my leisure reading on the train and bus into work and on my lunch break,
b) Squint at a tiny little picture of what a book page would look like — one of the main reasons I like having an ereader is that it allows me to reduce eyestrain, because of the aforementioned staring at a computer. I can do this for short scientific papers, but not for a 900-page novel like A Dance With Dragons
c) Use the magnify function and keep scrolling round a screen, shuttling from one side to another as I read each individual line — no chance.
d) Use Calibre to convert the books from PDF to ePub. This is what I’m going to do, so I’ll eventually get to read them, but I won’t have time to do this before the voting period ends.
So no Hugo votes from me this year, and I suspect none from any user of the Kobo, which is I believe second most-popular ereader in the UK and third most popular worldwide. (I *may* for example vote for Among Others by Jo Walton because it’s the ONLY novel that’s provided in multiple formats).
I truly appreciate the Hugo Packet, and I think it’s a wonderful thing in many, many ways. But if publishers aren’t going to provide actual ebook versions of books, why are they bothering?