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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Outliers- a book report (of sorts)-

For Christmas I received a gift card for Borders ebooks. Now, my choice of ereader was the Nook, which is a Barnes and Noble product. I was unsure as to how well the Borders ebooks would download and work on the Nook. I didn't anticipate problems, but I recognized the potential.

So, I selected a book I had planned on reading, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. This guy writes well, and Outliers does something that I really enjoy. Gladwell examines the idea of success, and examines some of the interconnections that bring about this nebulous condition. I say "nebulous" because success is a word loaded with emotional content well beyond any simple definition.

I downloaded Outliers from Borders to my Nook through what is called "side loading." The process is to order the book from, fire up the Borders reader application on the computer (which must have been previously downloaded,) and plug in the Nook to a USB port. Then just hit the "synchronize" button on the Borders reader on your computer.

This process places the book in the "Documents" section of the Nook. It does not show up in the "Library," which only houses the Barnes and Noble books. This simply means that I now have two stacks of books in my Nook. At present this presents no problems, and managing my growing elibrary is not difficult.

Outliers proved thought provoking. Gladwell is an interesting thinker and excellent writer. I do not know if his conclusions would hold up against heavy critical scrutiny, but I did find his ideas interesting with regard to the nature of opportunity and timing relative to particular people and their relative successes. Of course, he is working from a popular notion of success in which wealth, power and fame are significant. I recognize other modes of success as equally viable, if not always so readily recognized.

If you like your thoughts to be provoked, this is a pretty nice book to spend some time reading. I found that some conclusions I have reached regarding Life, The Universe, and Everything are paralleled and vindicated and otherwise supported in this book. It is not a guide to success, however. If you are seeking Success in big bright lights this is not your guidebook.

The idea of people and events being heavily interconnected for both good and ill is strongly supported in this book. Concepts like "opportunity" and "hard work" are also examined. Not surprisingly, classic success is the consequence of timing, opportunity and hard work. I rather like examining the interconnectedness of things, and Gladwell does this quite well.

At $9.99 for the ebook, this was not a bad investment of either money or time. If you are interested in the subject of success and how it comes about in particular people, this is your book. If you are suffering from some sense of senseless failure in your life, this book could put that in perspective, as well.

If you are still hesitant in adopting ebooks and ereaders, let me assure you that in the case of the Nook, sourcing your books from Borders as well as Barnes and Noble is not a problem. I cannot address any of the other readers, but I can say that my Nook is proving quite satisfactory. The portability and easy reading are delightful. I carry a library with me, and the e-ink screen can be read in full sunlight. Like a paper book, however, it requires a source of light to read in low/no light situations.

Oh, and free books. There are lots of free books available, both through Barnes and Noble and Borders. Probably through other sources, as well. Lots and lots of books. Once you get past the initial cost of the ereader there is a world of very cheap reading out there. Cheap in cost, not necessarily in quality. I have only found one free book to be of dubious quality, and even that was worth reading.

The cost is dropping. The features are improving. Ereaders and ebooks are a good thing. That is success in my book.

1 comment:

Jerry said...

I'm still wrestling with the concept of e-readers. Or maybe I just resist new fangled things.

I am going to put 'Outliers' on my library request list (that I do online -- so I am not a complete dinosaur).

I thought I was cataloged as one of your Followers, but I don't see my picture up there. Hmmm -- need to fix that.