baby’s first e-book
Posted October 20, 2012on:
as a surprise, a very good friend of mine lent me her kindle, preloaded with a few anthologies I’m interested in, and two Neal Asher novels, which I was very interested in. She certainly knew how to tease me.
Change, to mis-quote Agent Smith, is inevitable.
After a few days of staring at the thing, I decided I better pick it up and start using it. What if I couldn’t figure out how it worked? what if I broke it (Don’t worry E, it’s perfectly safe!)? GULP, what if I liked it, and had all this time been a super-hypocrite of e-readers??
Here’s goes nuthin’, right?
Granted, I have read PDFs of books before, but they were usually exactly that – a PDF of the printed version, complete with page numbers at the bottom, identifiers at the top, chapter page breaks, etc. On the screen it looked exactly like the page of a book, and if I printed it out, it looked like I’d photocopied a page out of the printed book.
but these true e-books? these are interesting beasts. I feel like a scifi character on a mission of first contact. Will I be able to communicate with the alien? will their technology dwarf mine? how does their language and syntax compare to what I’m used to?
Some nice surprises that I liked about the Kindle, and the e-book experience:
The skinnyness of the thing is very nice. It nestles perfectly in my purse, and I feel very sophisticated reading from it during lunchtime at work. It also has a super durable leather cover, offering a little bit of tactile interaction, and a lot of protection. I’m not a klutz, but a little extra protection on an expensive electronic gizmo is always a plus.
The buttons and menus are very intuitive. it holds a battery charge a long time, and even better it uses the same universal charger as my cell phone. It took me less than 5 minutes of messing with the thing to figure out the basic menu options, how to tell how much battery was left, etc. Intuitiveness is a big plus for non-techies like me.
And the things that shouldn’t have been a surprise, but were:
How long is this book? for 30 years I’ve used page count, and the visual of where my bookmark is to get a feel for how far I’ve gotten into a book, and how far I have to go. The Kindle doesn’t use page numbers, it uses sections, and I’ve yet to figure out exactly how long a section is. There’s also a progress bar at the bottom of the screen. If I’m 40% thru a book, what page am I on? does it matter?
This isn’t the page format I’m used to: six to nine words per line, 20 or so lines per page. Visually, this makes paragraph breaks show up rarer. When I turn the page in a physical book, I will often visually scan the new pages for paragraph breaks, gives me a quick preview of what I’m in for: dialog, exposition, infodump, etc. I don’t get that kind of visual with the e-book, but I sure am hitting “next page” more often than I expected, which makes me feel like a speed reader!
But I don’t wanna read this anthology in the order of the table of contents! I’m sure it’s just a menu option I haven’t figured out yet, but I want to jump around in the anthology, without having to hit “next page” 300 times.
What the heck am I reading again? This one comes down to the programming of the software and formatting of the e-book itself, but the headers mostly suck. It tells me the title of the book or maybe the short story, but not the name of the author. There isn’t that “right/left” thing you often get in a print book, where the title is on the top of one page and the author is on the top of the other, because there is no right/left.
how do I take notes? I’ll often have a scrap of paper or a notecard or something tucked into the book that I’m reading so I can take notes, jot down important events, conversations, page #’s, etc. I haven’t figured out how to do that on this puppy.
So, there you have it. I’ve now read an e-book. there’s a second Neal Asher on there, and a few more short stories I’d love to read, now I just need to get used to the actual doing of the reading. I’m slowly admitting the future is here. very, very, very slowly.