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iPad that does not work

2011-10-14 17:30:54.562621+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

You have undoubtedly seen this by now, but just in case: A magazine is an iPad that does not work (YouTube). Or: a 1 year old compares an iPad to magazines.

In looking at what new technologies, like ebooks, one of the things I'm trying hard to do is to divorce myself from my past experiences with the tech they're replacing. There are lots of ways in which books are really handy, but this suggests that many of those are more in how I relate to and use books vs ebook readers, not in the actual capabilities of each.

[ related topics: Books Movies Invention and Design History Law Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-17 15:39:31.009592+00 by: petronius

You have an interesting point. I've read a couple of books on Kindle over the last 3 months, and the experience is a little wierd. For instance, I find the lack of page numbers oddly disconcerting, but I can't remember the last time I needed a page number to look something up in a regular book. On the other hand, being able to read a long book without having my hand arthritis act up is an unadvetised boon. Meanwhile, I bought a work-type jacket the other day and was overjoyed the side pocket was the perfect size for the Kindle in it's little leatherette binder, so I guess in future i will have to bring the device with me to the clothing store, a bit like not wearing sandels when you get your pants hemmed!

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-17 16:18:23.77056+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Yeah, I find when reading ebooks that the "wait, that passage was about... [/me opens up book to the portion through I remember]" functionality is missing, but I think that a lot of that is that I haven't yet adapted to the tools available in the ebook reader for finding those places.

It's that whole "intuitive interface" thing, a good portion of my preference for one medium over another is familiarity, not capability.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 15:15:11.264721+00 by: other_todd

I find that I have a tendency, when reading dense books in the iPad version of the Kindle software, to leave multiple bookmarks to help get around some of this. But it's definitely a new style of reading in some ways. However, I can't say that the interface is unintuitive.

The Boston Globe had an article this morning about how very young children love electronic devices of these sorts, how marketers are trying as hard and as fast as they can to design apps and devices for the toddler set, and how no one in child development circles is really sure whether this increased exposure at a tender age is a very good idea.

This is the link to the story from their top page, if you have already passed their paywall. I refuse to.


#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 15:33:57.277443+00 by: petronius

"...a new style of reading." The mot juste. I find reading on the Kindle a bit like jumping into the pool, and only occasionally coming up for air, then jumping in again. Maybe the best analogy would be if print books didn't have chapters, but you just started on page one and kept on going to The End. Chapter headings do appear in Kindle, but they seem not to have the same sense of division as they do in print. Again, many of these ideas we have here are just analogies, but we've never had to analyze of justify how we relate to print; the issue only comes up when we have a new experience to compare it with.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 15:39:51.344559+00 by: other_todd

Some of that depends on how the book is formatted for the e-reader in question. We're still seeing mostly books that are hasty and/or after-the-fact conversion jobs. (I've commented elsewhere on Flutterby, I think, about how conversions of PD books are the worst, because no one has any skin in the game.)

I HAVE read a couple of new books where someone clearly gave some thought to how visual divisions of chapters/pages/etc would look on an e-reader, and it makes a big difference. I expect to see more of that as we go, especially once the e-book becomes the primary revenue stream and the paper book a niche market.

(I hate typing those last few words, because I love paper books, but I can read the letters of fire on the wall.)

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 15:47:19.457896+00 by: other_todd

Ah, actually, I found my comment on PD e-books and it was not here, it was on ANOTHER similarly structured forum full of intelligent people I sometimes attend. Ahem.

I reproduce it here:

"This problem [badly formatted text] is far more common in books which are free/PD. I looked at four versions of Bleak House before I found one that was readable. I don't remember what the problem was now - I think it may have been that Dickens' constant use of em-dashes there was mangled - anyway, it was clear that three of the four versions were just re-using a dump of the book that had bad formatting, and only one place (might have been Project Gutenberg, not sure) had bothered to do it right.

"Text formatting is so important for Tristram Shandy, which is a lot more avant-garde that way than I formerly realized, that I gave up on ALL electronic versions and bought a nice paper copy with notes.

"My theory is that for the PD works, there is no money incentive to proofread the electronic file for problems like this, unless it is a Labor of Love - someone is doing it hastily to get it out there, and often passing along a prior electronic version without checking, errors and all."

Since I wrote that, I have read a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea where none of the degree signs had been encoded properly, so all references to ocean locations looked like 20? 00'; and I'm in the middle of a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel where some lines break unexpectedly and the spacing around chapter headings is arbitrary and/or nonexistent. In fact, so far I have not yet encountered an e-text of a PD work that has not had SOME sort of blatant formatting issue.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 19:19:40.161214+00 by: petronius

Not even just in free or PD books. I read this book, which was done back in the 1980s, had all the interword hyphenations retained, even when the word was comfortably in the middle of the line. Now, I'm running he Kindle at a slightly larger than normal font size, which may have something to do with it, but it was still strange.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-18 20:30:26.061139+00 by: other_todd

Yeah, I think it's a case of "there wasn't enough profit motive to get someone to go back and reformat." The books I've seen where someone gave a damn were all Big Sellers - the Game of Thrones books, for example.