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I've just read a novel on my e-reader for the first time. It was exactly the kind of thing thing we're told will be purely e-book soon: a Susan Hill/Simon Serrailler novel, bought to read while travelling. I like a gadget, so I'm quite surprised how much I disliked the business. There were things pro and con which may be specific to my Sony, but these are the things which would be common to any such device:
1) I decided I wanted it late the evening before, and downloaded it in minutes - though it was a book I could probably have bought at the airport anyway.
2) It took up less space in my bag than a paperback would have. If I'd wanted to take lots of books, I could have - except that actually I took paperbacks of other books, because I had them already.
3) When I couldn't be bothered to dig my glasses out on the tube, I just enlarged the text by a few points. This is definitely a plus for me, although I don't think I could have read like that for a long time without getting an eyestrain headache.
Where do I start?
1) The horrible, slo-mo blink and flicker of the page-turn. I looked before I bought this model, and they're all much the same
2) At the airport it counts as an electronic device so it's one more thing you have to dig out and put through the security scanner separately
2) The fact that I had to switch it off for a good ten minutes at takeoff and again at landing, which is exactly when I most want to be distracted, while my paper-bound neighbours read happily on.
3) It's a touch-screen, and being able to turn pages that way is cool, but if you try to do it too quickly it and I get confused about where we are.
4) The way that I couldn't flip about to find something with an intuitive sense of where it might be. It was either a case of turning back p a g e - b y - p a g e , or solemly typing in a search page, or do some rough maths and solemnly searching for a page number, find it was wrong, turn to and fro p a g e - b y - p a g e, and so on. Even in a novel that was tedious (and a contents page with links to 39 chapters - just numbers - is no use at all) and it would make working with a non-fiction text completely infuriating.
5) I was also frustrated by not having a sense of where I was in the book - except by doing maths on the page-numbers. No "tell-tale compression of the pages". I guess this is specific to writers, but if you're remotely interested in structure you have, or at least need, an intuitive sense of the proportions of the book - and with an e-book you haven't.
6) And when I got home and would have finished the book in a hard-earned hot bath, of course I couldn't...
I've read a couple of short non-fic books on it, and I found the lack of flip-to-and-fro-ability even more irritating. Being able to search, and the hyperlinked Contents page was quite handy (though nothing a decent, non-computer-generated index wouldn't give you in a paperbook), but I certainly, certainly won't be buying e-books soon for any non-fiction I might want to be studying or making notes on or from.
And, indeed, I'd hesitate to buy an e-book of a novel I actually wanted to study, as opposed to simply read straight through for pleasure. I'm very glad to be reading Wolf Hall on paper, for example. If that means (as it did) I couldn't take it on the plane, so be it.
So what about anyone else? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Indifferent? Never tried?
Realise it sounds as if I mean Susan Hill will be e-book only soon - which wasn't what I meant; only that I bought it for quick-and-easy read while travelling...
I'm with you on this one, Emma!
I've got a kindle now, mainly for travelling (we have family in Australia and it's much easier to take several books in one lightweight form).
But it doesn't feel like reading a book to me. It feels like reading a Word document or something. I find I don't sink into the world of the book as easily, and like you, I find I don't know where I am in the book. I'm a very visual reader, and if I want to remember something, I can usual picture which side of the page is on, and whereabouts.
And you can't read it in the bath! Or when eating, unless you want sticky fingerprints all over it.
And I was really irritated when I downloaded my first book to discover that there were bits highlighted where other readers had thought it worthy. At least I've worked out how to switch that function off now.
Having said that, I have downloaded the Bible onto it and it's very useful for flicking back and forth because there's a page finder and a word finder so if you want to follow particular themes it's good. Plus the dictionary and translator and stuff is useful.
So, pros and cons I suppose. It fulfils a useful function but isn't the same physical and aesthetic experience of reading a book.
I love mine. And I read with it in the bath (with it in waterproof casing) although it makes the screen harder to read. One thing I like is that I'm more willing to read lengthier books on it that I'd never carry around with me otherwise - Anna Karenina at the moment. And I'm nearly always reading several books at once, so I love the flexibility being to decide at lunchtime whether to get on with my current or non-fiction book.
That said I've never flown with it as I very, very rarely fly - the turning it on and off at landing would really annoy me. But then virtually everything about flying annoys me nowadays, which is why I try to avoid it! When I travel I'm normally either hiking or cycle touring, so weight is absolutely crucial.
Completely agree about the flickability issue, though - when I was writing an essay on To The Lighthouse I originally brought the ebook and started highlighting relevant passages. But it quickly became unfeasible because I needed to do a lot of cross-referencing, and have a sense of the length of sections, as one of the things I was examining was the structure. Also highlighting didn't get the sense of a passage it into my head the same way underlining with pencil and adding a margin note does - not sure why.
I love paper books and still buy them, especially if I can get a lovely hardback edition. But I wouldn't be without my ereader either. I'd say I do about 60-70% of my reading on my Sony (and it'd be higher if I didn't read a lot of library books!). I've had my ereader for well over two years now, and in the first year I wasn't all that impressed. Then I started using it more and liking it more - now I wouldn't be without it.
|Also highlighting didn't get the sense of a passage it into my head the same way underlining with pencil and adding a margin note does - not sure why.|
I bought a touch-screen one so I could make notes (almost) as intuitively as in the margin of a p-book, specially on a converted version of my own MS - but I haven't used it much that way yet. But for something like studying a book to write about it, I suspect it would never be as good
I do like my Kindle especially as I can read mss on it. I hated the page changing thing for about five seconds but it really was so fleeting. Every two Kindle books or so, though, I get a craving to hold a 'real' book in my hand.
The major plus for me is space saving.
I still do, and always will, buy 'proper' books. But I've pretty much run out of space at home to store books and there are very few that I want to get rid of. I've only had my Kindle since Christmas but have over 50 books on it already. I could never have found homes for all of those on my shelves (under the bed, on top of chests of drawers...)
But, yes, the inability to flick between pages to find something easily, especially if I can't remember the exact word/s, is frustrating. Whereas, like Freebird, I can often remember where it is in a paper book.
Horses for courses, I suppose.
I've lost the plug on my Kindle. Can't find it anywhere. You don't get that problem with proper books.
|You don't get that problem with proper books.|
Although my e-reader and my phone both aren't the same brand but use the same kind of charger - USB lead plus plug with USB-type-hole in it. So that's pretty much solved. Roll on the day when everyone does that.
Still not got around to buying one, although I've downloaded a few non-fiction items to my PC via the free Kindle app and read them on-screen. When I do finally take the plunge, I won't want to lock myself into the Amazon cage with all its 'who owns and controls what' issues, so it will have to be Sony or Kobo. Spousal complaints about the sheer number of volumes now double-stacked on shelves will no doubt be the driver for the eventual decision to purchase.
|I won't want to lock myself into the Amazon cage with all its 'who owns and controls what' issues, |
I'm basically very happy with my Sony - it's e-readers as a species I've realised I don't altogether get on with.
I use mu kindle quite a bit,although I don't like it nearly as much as reading a proper book. I can use mine on a flight as there's an airplane mode which I tend to have switched on all the time anyway - I find the battery discharges quicker in normal mode. My main bugbear is not knowing where I am in a book, not being able to flick pages is very annoying. If I want to revisit a certain part I have no reference point from which to search for it. I also hate not having a front cover on show when I switch it on. I have a bad memory and I now find I forget very easily what the book I'm reading is called.
|I can use mine on a flight as there's an airplane mode which I tend to have switched on all the time anyway|
I can use mine on a flight, but was asked to turn it off on takeoff and landing, as with phones and laptops, which was a bore.
Well, that's frustrating
I've got the Kindle app on my iPad, but for one reason alone:
I decided I wanted to read Robinson Crusoe, never having read it before. Looking on Amazon, I saw that the Kindle version was free. Checking on the Apple App Store, I found that the Kindle app was also free. No brainer: within a few minutes, I had a free copy of the book that I wanted.
I agree with the down-sides though. Whilst there is a thingy at the bottom of the Kindle app window which shows you how far through the book you are, it isn't quite the same as seeing/feeling the relative thickness of the pages read/to be read.
I've used other e-reader software on the iPad, mainly for text books, and usually in PDF format. These have indexes, which is the main way that I find content within a text book. However, on those occasions when an index item points to several pages, and you check one of them only to find it doesn't contain exactly what you want, there's no means of instantly flicking back to the same point in the index to find the other page references. If I were using a paper book, I would keep a finger in the index page while checking the references, for precisely that purpose. It does seem strange that, with the possibilities for hypertext links, e-readers don't make this kind of use of them.
The main plus, as I see it, is precisely your second one: you can carry very many books with no additional weight/bulk. For text books, that can be a huge bonus, especially if, like me, you're likely to be needing computing-related books.
Of course, there is another bonus, if you have the right e-reader: you can listen to music at the same time, without having to carry a second electronic device. You might even be able to switch from reading to browsing your holiday snaps, assuming you've got a device which lets you put the camera's flash card into it (e.g. not an iPad).
This 20 message thread spans 2 pages: 2 > >
I agree the chapters are dreadful. I do like and use my Kindle though.