Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Sampling a Cicerone eBook

2nd October 2010

For whatever reason, I retain a soft spot for Cicerone guidebooks and have amassed a collection of them. Whether it is the handy presentation, the descriptions, the included maps or the authoritative coverage of many parts of Britain and beyond, I cannot say exactly but all must play a part in the buying decisions. Of all of the ones that I have, it only seems to be Walking in the Hebrides that left me unsatisfied. Otherwise, they all seem to offer what I need for route planning. Hopefully, a newer one that concentrates on Harris and Lewis is a better bet since the older title's eschewing of maps makes it hard to read and that's unusual for a Cicerone book.

A recent look at the publisher's website has put other tempting options like Ronald Turnbull's Not the West Highland Way along with Walking on the Brecon Beacons and Walking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Then, there's Chris Townsend's Scotland to follow at this time of writing too. It's all too easy to let the list of tempting walking titles tempt you but I managed to contain myself apart from a certain errand that sent me onto Cicerone's online outpost in the first place.

What mainly caused that errand was my apparent misplacement of my Cicerone walking guide to the Cairngorms, something that I only noticed before a trip to Royal Deeside in Scotland at the end of August. Another matter that I wished to investigate was how Cicerone's guides appeared in eBook format after their announcement of its availability a few months back; seemingly, not every title is available like this just yet. The result is that I now have an electronic equivalent of the paper volume that I have yet to find again; no doubt, it's somewhere that I haven't searched yet but experiments always are worth doing.

What Cicerone don't give you is a straight PDF with which you can do what you like and read using whatever software you choose; there's more than Adobe out there. Perhaps for reasons such as revenue and copyright protection, they make you use Adobe's Digital Editions software instead. Given that it is available free of charge for Windows and OS X, that isn't such a restriction though users of Linux/UNIX like me need to make their own arrangements but we generally are technical types that can manage that anyway. For transferring eBooks from one computer to another, you need an Adobe ID and ensure that both are authorised. It also seems that the same arrangements can make things operable for certain Sony eReaders too.

The good news is that the eBook itself is a faithful copy of the paper counterpart and very legible too, though I do have a 24" wide-screen display that helps a lot with this type of thing along with surveying any digital maps. In the software, there's a navigation pane at the left that contains a useful hyperlinked table of contents and the facility to add your own bookmarks too. Apart from those and the ability to display a double-page spread, there's not too much that I need so I come away from the experience satisfied though I do wonder at the wisdom about charging the same for eBooks as their paper equivalents and severely limiting printing too. Maybe they're trying to staunch any rush to the electronic world for now. After all, there remains a certain something about having a paper book in your hands even if their digital equivalents take up less space, a feature that I appreciate when it comes to storing music, and may not be so easy to mislay either.

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