Yesterday’s rain kept me indoors all day, curled up on the couch reading. But not with a paperback novel—I cuddled my iPad in my lap, propped up with a pillow, my dog at my feet.
I was re-reading a favorite book, Susan E. Phillips First Lady. I’d read it many years ago when it first came out, and wanted to re-read it since I’m currently writing in a similar genre. Although I was pretty sure I had a paperback copy somewhere—SEP books are keepers for me—I didn’t want to drag out the boxes of books from whatever closet I’d stored them deep inside. So I downloaded a copy from iBooks instead.
But I noticed something interesting while reading the illuminated text on the iPad screen. I felt an intimacy with the book I hadn’t felt while reading the paperback version. Maybe it’s because the screen was so easy to read—my eyes don’t see very well in dim light. (I suffer from extreme myopia, probably because I didn’t heed my mother’s warnings as a child and read constantly.) Kindles and other e-readers that use e-ink don’t do it for me. And on rainy days, the lighting conditions in my house just aren’t optimum for reading without backlighting.
So was it the glowing text, with lots of white space in between paragraphs that drew me in? Or was it the excellent writing, the engaging characters? I think a little bit of both. I spent a lot of time thumbing backwards, to re-read a particularly funny piece of dialogue. I like to savor books, lingering on descriptive phrases that catch my imagination, relishing the clever repartee. There was a lot of that going on in First Lady. Plus, I was trying to learn something to apply to my current novel-in-progress, so I was especially attentive to the details.
Alas, ebooks also have a bit of not-ready-for-prime time about them, still. I noticed the formatting in this book, and in others I’ve read, is wonky: This book had paragraphs separated by white space, with the same spacing separating sections, so that one minute you’re in one scene and a line space later you’re in a scene taking place somewhere else, in someone else’s point of view.
Another ebook I read contained numerous errors with quotation marks—the ending mark was left off in about half the dialogue quotes. This happens more often, in my reading, with books issued by the Big Six publishers than with small press books and self-pubbed books. Obviously the big publishers aren’t taking the care they should to ensure that their ebooks work across all platforms. (Kudos to my publisher here: I haven’t found a single formatting error in any of the books I’ve downloaded from Entangled.)
Another plus with ebooks: I can mark text with notes, to come back to later. I’m also reading a research book via e-reader, which has lots of yellow highlighted notes already.
I recently ordered several research books from Amazon. Some were available as ebooks as well as paperback or hardback. While I downloaded a couple of books as ebooks, most of the book either were unavailable as ebooks or there were much cheaper used copies available. I suspect I’ll get more use out of the ebooks than the hardbacks, with the exception being the book with many illustrations.
Before I submit another manuscript to my editor, I plan to upload it to my iPad for a quick editing read. It’s easy to do if you use Pages: A click or two and it appears on your iBook library.
What do you think? Are e-readers changing the way you read? Are they changing the way you edit? Or are you still waiting to jump on the Kindle/Nook/Kobo/iPad bandwagon?