Shopping Product Reviews

Where to buy books in English when you are abroad

I love reading. I probably read more than the average person. I spend hours reading both computer technical books and entertainment books. When I first came to Thailand, one thing I really had to get used to is the lack of reading paper books. There are many bookstores, but few have a large selection of titles printed in English. Back home in the United States, I had a fairly large library of technical books…mostly Cisco Press and Sybex books on networking. My fiction reading was mostly sated by going to a Barnes & Noble or Boarders bookstore… or the Chicago Public Library outside of State and Congress when I lived there.

Now I only have a handful of paper books and the bookstores/libraries here are limited to any books in English. Fortunately, we live in an age of digital media where most books can be found online for free, by paying a fee per book, or through a book club membership where you can “pay” virtual books for a fee. monthly.

I use Amazon’s Kindle apps for my recreational reading. I tried the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps for iPhone and found the Kindle app to be a bit easier to use. Using Amazon or any other online bookstore for recreational reading can be expensive if you want to read the latest books. Considering I usually wait until a book is out in paperback before buying it, eBooks are pretty expensive at $12-20 each. Fortunately, Amazon offers many books for free. Many of these books are “classics.” For years I have said that I want to go back and read many of the classic books that I missed growing up. Now I can do it in digital format. For example, I recently finished reading “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne. It didn’t cost me a hundred. I have purchased several books through the Kindle app, including Dan Brown’s new book “The Lost Symbol.”

Just one day before Apple’s iPad was announced along with the iTunes bookstore, Amazon released a Kindle app for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you read Kindle books on your PC or MAC. This is a nice addition and is useful for extended reading. The Kindle app is available for other mobile platforms, such as Android and Blackberry, and even for the iPad itself.

I’ve considered buying both the Kindle E-Reader and the iPad, but honestly, they’re too big for me. I like the ability to have books in my pocket. The fewer gadgets you carry with you, the better. The iPhone screen size really isn’t that bad and the Kindle app options give you the opportunity to customize text size, text color, and background colors to suit your preferences and lighting conditions. . I do much of my recreational reading in the dark before bed and find that white text on a black background is the least tiring on my eyes.

For my technical needs, I use Safari Books Online. This is an online book “club” where you pay a monthly fee (annual fees are also available) and you can check out technical books from most major publishers, including Cisco Press, Sybex, O’Reilly, and Prentice Hall. All the big players in the IT field are represented here.

My particular subscription costs $22.99 per month for the “10 slots” shelf and 5 download tokens per month. A download token allows you to download the PDF of a single chapter or section of the book that is in your library. Here is a screenshot of My CCNA Voice Study Guide in my library:

One can buy additional tokens…$10 for 5 tokens but I’ve never needed to buy more as the tokens accumulate for up to 3 months and I usually only download 2-3 chapters per month.

For a very brief time, Safari had an iPhone app in the iTunes store, but it’s no longer available. The app was available before Apple had its own library, so it was probably removed due to a conflict with Apple’s library or some copy-write issues with one or more publishers.

I’ve tried it and it’s fine, but there’s something about a full app that seems faster and more useful. The mobile option is not a deal breaker for Safari anyway. When reading books or technical documents, I prefer to read on my 15″ laptop screen. It’s nice to have the ability to use the mobile site or download a PDF and read it on my phone when I’m in a pinch. Unfortunately, not all books They are optimized for viewing on mobile devices.

This is how I get by with my reading material in Southeast Asia. It’s wonderful to live in an age where almost everything printed on paper is also available digitally. It makes living abroad so much easier.

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