E-Books – An Update

Back in March I shared my thoughts about e-books and the Kindle. A lot has transpired in the last six months, so I felt the need to write another post about e-books. Personally, my established reading habits now include both e-books and printed books, and I do not favor one over the other. However, I did appreciate the e-reader’s portability on a recent trip to Australia when I decided to read The Passage, which is nearly eight hundred pages.

Kindle
What's on your Kindle?

There are still some drawbacks with the Kindle, which may or may not also apply to other e-readers. The Kindle does not allow you to instantly judge a book’s length. I only discovered the length of The Passage when I looked it up online, since I had never actually seen a copy of the printed book. Another problem with the Kindle is that the navigational options are limited. For instance, it is difficult to locate passages in the book that you want to reread. You have to remember a specific location for or a unique phrase from the passage you are looking for, and then type that information into the Kindle in order to find the passage again. This is really a pain, especially when you didn’t realize on the first read that you would want to revisit that particular passage!

While rereading my previous article on e-books I noted some unresolved issues and questions about which books would become digital. At the beginning of the year it looked as if only longer works that are mostly text would be subject to becoming e-books in the near future. However, with the popularity of Apple’s iPad, it looks like picture books are heading for the land of bits and bytes. Previously I questioned whether libraries would be able to loan e-books. This has also been addressed. A co-worker described for me how she was able to borrow an e-book easily. This allows libraries to stock even more titles and not be constrained by the limits of physical shelf space.

For a publisher, the conversion from paper to pixels is not easy! Tofu Quilt was our first e-book conversion and it was not a walk in the park. The transition required reformatting the book as well as cross-platform testing to make sure the book looked consistent on different readers. We will be converting some picture books next, so stay tuned to find out how these work out.

The prices of e-readers have been greatly reduced recently, so more people may be moved to purchase them. As a reader, I have adapted to accommodating both e-book and print book formats. As a publisher, my hunch is that most people will do the same and make room for both e-readers and printed books in their lives. After all, reading is reading!

As always, I welcome everyone to share their experiences of reading in the twenty-first century with us.

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