Thursday, 28 October 2010

p-books versus e-books

Last night, for the first time since I fell in love with my e-reader ten weeks or so ago, I started reading a paper book, ie a traditional paperback, in fact a reprint of J F Ackerley's Hindoo Holiday.

And despite being a new edition, it is a reprint of an earlier version - when one looks at the printing it has been photographically enlarged to fit the newer 190x130 paperback format rather than the original 177x107 format, and clearly photoset from an earlier printed version.

What is very noticable after using an e-reader are the minor printing defects, eg occasional broken ligatures and other imperfections introduced by the printing process. Text is slightly less contrasty and slightly easier on the eye, but at the same time slightly more difficult to read in lower light situations.

But the thing that is most noticable is how much more comfortable a proper book is to read, purely due to not having to hold the e-reader rigidly in one hand in order to press the ipod-like next page button.

This may of course be easier on other models of e-reader, and a redesign of the next page button, say as a squeezable edge, might solve the problem.

I'm also being unfair - having been an avid reader since the age of eight I have almost half a century's experience of reading traditional books and ten weeks with one particular model of e-reader, and in time one would undoubtedly adapt - try going back to driving a car without power steering, or using a manual typewriter to discover how much one's technique changes over the years.

That said, I'm still more than happy to read books on my e-reader and have a pile of public domain books I want to read. I've also got a pile of paper books to read. It'll be interesting to see how my reading habits change over the next year to eighteen months ...

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