Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, June 25, 2010

once more without much feeling

I think I may have said all I have to say about e-readers, at least until the technology changes significantly. I've written a good deal about their benefits and their limitations, and I think I've covered both categories fairly well — at least, that's how it seems to me when I read this article about six academics' responses to e-readers. Been all those places, done all those things, bought all those t-shirts.
Two months ago I was reading on my Kindle every day, and thinking it was likely to get more and more important to me; in the past month I have scarcely touched it, largely because suddenly, and for no particular reason that I can identify, its really lousy typography started to bug me. It will probably go in and out of favor with me for a while to come; but any possibility of electronic devices making up the bulk of my reading experience seems a long way off. Electronic reading has been a major topic on this blog but probably won't be in the future — not until two issues get themselves sorted out: typography and DRM.
That said, the recent 2.5 update to the Kindle software — especially the ability to create "collections" — and the relatively recent ability to look at one's notes and marks online have dramatically increased the usefulness of the device.


  • "suddenly, and for no particular reason that I can identify, its really lousy typography started to bug me."

    What is "attention directing", Alex?

    This reminds me so much of today's handicam indie filmmakers who excuse the appalling lack of technical quality in their films by saying "I'm more interested in content than technique."


    Since when did the way a film looks and sounds become separated from its content?

    Similarly, a stack of unbound typed pages is not a book, it's just part of a book, maybe even sometimes the most important part, but not the whole book, or even the whole experience of conveying the information.

  • My experience has been almost exactly the same as yours. My Kindle sits unused for weeks on end.

    Except, when I am traveling. I am on a six week sabbatical in Europe and it has been wonderful. I bought books in advance and after arriving in Europe.

    Prior to sabbatical, I spoke somewhere that required a plane ride. Again, it was great to have an e-reader.

    So, I do think the first question for those considering an ebook is, how much do you travel?

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