Notes on E-Reading

June 2, 2009 @ 4:21 pm | Filed under: Books

A few more e-reading notes of the thinking-aloud sort, if you don’t mind.

E-readers I’ve tried:

Classics. My favorite platform so far—best looking, most book-like text, fun page-turning effect. Obvious drawback: limited book selection. 99cent download. No cost to download additional titles as they become available.

Stanza. Very nice reading experience. Easy-to-use search function offers huge selection of free and for-purchase books (including Project Gutenberg catalog). Customizable text display (font, size, color). Center tap brings up page meter, options. One-tap page turn (you can select which zone you want to tap).

Kindle for iPhone/iPod Touch. See yesterday’s post.

Books I’ve read on my Touch:

Pride and Prejudice. Picked this for my first e-reading experience because I know and love the book so well. Read it via the Classics app. Enjoyed it just as much as ever, and loved being able to read in the dark in bed with a single hand. Made me realize e-reading offered its own set of advantages, although I will always prefer the sensory pleasures of a “real” book.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. Stanza. E-reading felt entirely appropriate for this futuristic novel! Great fun.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Stanza. Found myself wanting a hard copy to flip back and forth in. Fast-paced suspenseful techie novel; I wound up obsessively tapping for the status meter so I’d know how far I had to go—how long I had to keep holding my breath! This was the first time I started to wonder about the relationship between pacing and book format.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Stanza. As I said yesterday, I felt curiously distanced from this stark, bleak novel, and couldn’t tell how much that had to do with the book itself, and how much was because of the e-reader. Is it just me, I wondered? Do other people engage as deeply with the characters in books they read on their phones, or does the small screen showing only a paragraph at a time pull our consciousness too far into the forefront, preventing us from total suspension of disbelief? Or is it like that because it’s new? In five years or ten, will I even notice? Would it be the same on a Kindle, which with its bigger screen and e-ink technology tries very hard to duplicate a hard-copy reading experience? Would Amazon kindly send me a Kindle on which to test the theory?

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. Kindle for iPhone. Well, you know how that went.

Short stories: “The Dead” by James Joyce; “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Stanza.

Things I like about reading on my Touch:

I can hold it in one hand and turn pages with a tap of my thumb. For a nursing mother, this is a great delight. And since the screen is backlit, I can read in bed, sleeping baby to my left, sleeping hubby to my right, and disturb no one, neither with light nor with the rustle of turning pages.

Takes up less space in my bag than a book. My 4-month-old baby weighs almost 19 pounds. Any lightening of my shoulder-load is a blessing.

Thousands of books literally at my fingertips. Hundreds and hundreds of them, all the older classics, for free.

Things I don’t like:

Not as cozy as a book!

If I’m reading a book on the iPod, my kids can’t tell at a glance that I’m reading a book and not, say, email or blogs. And this does bother me. Seems like it’s one thing for a child to see mom curled up with a book, and another thing entirely to see mom staring at yet another screen. “I’m reading Pride and Prejudice!” I’ll find myself saying, or “I’m reading Edith Wharton!” as if to defend myself against complaints no one is even making.


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Comments

5 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Ethan Frome is just horribly bleak and miserable. I didn’t like it.

  2. Dh has been using Bookz Reader for his Touch. He chose it because it can grab stuff from Gutenberg (Puggle is _enamoured_ of Moby Dick thanks to the pop-up book, and when he heard there was a _big_ version, he wanted to hear it. We don’t have a copy… gutenberg was logical.)

    Won’t work for everything, obviously, but do you _listen_ to book on your touch at all? (I’ve recently ‘discovered’ audio books, and I’m loving them:-) )

  3. Ethan Frome….I read nearly all of it in one sitting in the urologist waiting room [yes, I stupidly forgot my book!]….my son chose to watch the fish and then the little kid movie, but I soldiered on with Ethan….not a favorite

  4. Melissa,
    Have you seen this article?
    It’s fascinating!
    http://chronicle.com/temp/email2.php?id=vzx4qdknhkHtzZ5rHfd56ctHFsqDCZqX
    Enjoy!

  5. […] has really become my preferred vehicle for bedtime reading, for all the reasons I mentioned in this post. It’s the easiest, least obtrusive way to read next to a sleeping baby without disturbing […]