a review of Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs
by Darren Rettburg
Did you know that Patagonia publishes books too? I was asked to do a review on one of their eBooks. The book I reviewed is Fred Beckley’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs, By Fred Beckey.
What’s it about?
In this book Fred gives you route tips, natural history and climbing lore from 100 of his favorite climbs and makes a few honorable mentions of some other climbs. Fred has more first ascents than any other north American climber and has written definitive guides to climbing in the Cascades.
After an introduction by Barry Blanchard, the climbs are broken up into eight different sections, (1)Pacific Northwest, (2)Alaska, (3)British Columbia Coast Mountains, (4)Canadian Rockies, Selkirks & Bugaboos, (5)High Rockies, (6)Sierra Nevada, (7)Southwest Desert, and (8)The Appalachian Mountains & Mexico. For each climb you get:
The mountain’s elevation
First ascent of the mountain
First ascent of the route
time (the average it takes)
the best season to climb
Information and regulations
Magnetic Declination on Compass
That’s followed up by a few paragraphs to a few pages filled with either history, a story, or some other information about the particular climb. Finally each climb wraps up with information on how to access the climb, the climb’s route, the descent, and finally the beta and caveats.
Purchase and Downloading
I got my eBook straight from Patagonia’s page on My Tablet Books. Purchasing and downloading is like any other site you buy products from. Once you download you eBook you are able to download it again if you need to by logging into your account you make when you purchase the book. You can use any of the major credit cards to pay and you even have the option to use PayPal.
Installing on Your eReader
The file you receive from Patagonia’s page on My Tablet Books is an EPUB file. My Tablet Books has step by step instructions on how to instal your EPUB file onto the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Device, Kindle, Sony Touch or My Pocket Touch, Nook, Sony, Kobo Devices, or even your Mac or PC. I immediately installed my eBook onto a Nook. I transferred the file into my documents folder on the Nook and it was ready to go. I then Installed my eBook onto my iPad and into iBooks, just by dragging and dropping it into the library in my iTunes. I also followed the instructions on how to install the eBook onto my Android phone. I had to download the free app that was recommended, then transfer the file to my phone. Finally out of curiosity, I converted my EPUB file to Kindle’s native mobi file and then sent if off to my kindle account to see how it would look on my devices through Kindle’s readers and a Kindle Fire. Because the mobi format doesn’t support as much functionality as an EPUB, if you do this with your file, don’t expect to get a fully function eBook. I’ll discuss the results I had later with doing this.
With the Nook and iBooks on the iPad, installing was a simple drag and drop. The book functioned and looks fantastic on them both. The native table of contents, something that you will quite often find doesn’t work on eBooks, works nicely. The headers and text all show up correctly and each climb starts on a new page.
For the Android operating system it was tested with the Aldiko book reader app on an HTC One phone. For the most part it looked good except that the main headers for each climb showed up as regular text. Everything else looked great. This particular app was sluggish and slow to respond for me. I wouldn’t want to read a book like this on my phone anyway. Others may not have a problem with it.
For the Kindle device and readers I tested the mobi file I converted from the EPUB file, The only real issue was that the native app table of contents wasn’t working. Everything else looked and functioned good. One surprise I found was that the native table of contents worked on the computer. That was unexpected!
When it comes to the functionality the Nook and iBooks on the iPad worked, dare I say perfectly, and were easy to install. I would love to have this book for these two tested devices.
I really like this eBook. It’s packed with amusing anecdotes, notes, history, pictures, topos and great stories. There is plenty of information in this book to keep the adventure researcher busy for hours. The introduction gave me a fantastic account of Fred Beckey and his back ground. The sections for each of the climbs gave me plenty of valuable information to decide if that is a climb I would like to do. This book would be a great place to start if you are looking for your next climbing adventure.
With the history about the climb, the description of the route and the descent, I’m given enough if formation to figure out if it is a climb for me. Many of the climbs include climbing route topos. While the physical book looks to have these on a full page, the eBook does not. They are placed in-line with the text and not one of them takes up the whole screen. If you want to get a better view, you can select the topo like any of the other images in the eBook and zoom in on it.
The image quality is too poor for anything larger than the size it is in the text. At the size they are in the text most of the info on them is unreadable. This, to me, makes them useless. If they took up a full screen like they take up a full page in the book I could see them being more useful in the eBook. Since I am on the topic of the images in the ebook, the issue with the topo maps is similar for the rest of the images. While they look fantastic and greatly add to the book, when you select them and zoom them to full screen to admire them, you find that their quality is poor at that size. This is a common issue across the board with all ebooks I have found. Until things change with the market and with the publishers I don’t see this getting any better. (I could explain more about it but this is about this particular eBook and not the industry so I won’t bore you with the details)
That said, this eBook is on par with all other quality eBooks. I found the information valuable. There is plenty of readable text and stories for me to sit down and browse through, along with plenty of information to start research on a climbing route. I think this is a book that any armchair adventurer could enjoy. There is so much in this eBook that even if you are not a climber and love reading about adventures you could enjoy this eBook. I often find myself just sitting down and just browsing through the book, looking at the pictures, maps, and reading about some of the climbs.
I feel this book works on both your research book shelf and your coffee table. For a list price of $14.95 for an ebook I would be hard pressed to buy this book in the eBook format. That is a premium price for an eBook. Granted it is a large book with a massive amount of content, the issue with the images would keep me from purchasing it in eBook format for the premium price. If I were to pay that price then find the images the way they are, I would be disappointed. The book is great and I would definitely purchase it in the printed format.
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