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?

7 Comments on The intimacy of ebooks

  1. TheOthers1
    March 5, 2012 at 11:15 am (12 years ago)

    I’m still very hesitant about ebooks. Maybe I’m more traditional than I realize. I have a kindle app and do like to send my drafts to my app to read, but I haven’t jumped on board with the times in regard to being in that arena. To me, its not the same feel as a paperback and even though I have hundreds of ebooks still prefer paperback. I think I just need to relax my thinking a little. Something to work on as I continue editing.

  2. kathrynbarrett
    March 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm (12 years ago)

    It wasn’t until I got an iPad with the backlight that I took to them, so don’t feel bad. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

  3. Carolyn Nicander Mohr
    March 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm (12 years ago)

    Hi Kathryn, I am a big ebook fan, mostly for the convenience. I never know when I will have an opportunity to read, but I always have my iPhone and iPad with me. If I have a few minutes to spare, I can get some reading done. Chances are I won’t have my book with me at that time.

    My favorite reading device is my Kindle. I spend enough time staring at computer screens, I don’t like having backlight when I’m reading. But Kindle books have Whispersync so I can pick up reading on my Kindle app on my iPad or iPhone where I left off reading on my Kindle device.

    As you pointed out, ebooks are also great as reference books. You can have them with you wherever you go and search through them easily.

    Will your novel be available as an ebook, Kathryn?

    • kathrynbarrett
      March 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm (12 years ago)

      Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks for the comments! Yes, Whispersync is a great advantage! I love that I don’t have to flip my book upside down with the pages splayed in order to save my space! Yes, my novel will be available as ebook, and print as well.

      • Natthawut
        June 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm (12 years ago)

        Love love love my Nook. So much so that I just bought 2 for my kids, bescaue I didn\’t like sharing. 😉 (They went on sale on woot! for $99 for refurbished black/white versions.) It\’s a fantastic device, very very happy with the experience. Used to be I was 50/50 with paper books. Now i actively avoid reading paper books. I have an iPad too (big fat geek and technology worker here) and like it for the backlight in bed, but it\’s much heavier and feels more fragile to me, so majority of reading is on Nook, but maybe 20% on iPad, too. Husband reads books to the kids on my Nook (now one of theirs.) 9 year old has already finished one book on the nook, which he only received on Tuesday. I read mostly YA/middle-grade anyway, so the books in my nook library (all devices sync to the same library) are in his appropriate range. It\’s fantastic, love it. (love the UI/UX better than Kindle, too, FWIW.)

    • Puput
      June 18, 2012 at 4:14 am (12 years ago)

      I go through mullpite ebooks per day on my smartphone while commuting to school. If I don’t have to maintain a constant internet connection (for downloading pages god forbid; one by one from Google), I will happily rely on this service.Right now I download 2-3 books in the morning, and delete them in the evening. Keeping a list of everything I’ve read could be simpler.Well, after checking out the link, it looks like I will have to use my fake identity within the USA to acquire any books

  4. website
    June 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm (12 years ago)

    I Am Going To have to visit again whenever my course load lets up – nevertheless I am taking your Feed so i could go through your web blog offline. Cheers.


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