Thursday, 23 May 2013

e-books and reading

There is a theory that simple, linear narratives are suited to e-readers. Complex literary fiction is inherently unsuited to the e-reader but far more suited to the armchair and a cup of coffee – or glass of whisky. (Select your own beverage.)

How do you use your e-reader? I still read paper books from choice, but if I don’t have one to hand, then I turn to the e-reader. My Kindle comes into its own when I’m on holiday, no matter the length of time, for the simple reason it is small, neat and takes up little space. Day to day journeys by bus are rare for me, but when I do catch the bus, I see people avidly reading as they make their way into the city. If they travel every day, perhaps twice a day going to work, then I can see that a Kindle would be a boon. The journey takes 50 minutes, and that’s a good chunk of reading time, but I don’t think I’d want to tackle something terribly complex.

Instead I’d rather have something clear, fast-paced and attention grabbing so I don’t earwig on other people’s conversations or get distracted by the cyclist wobbling along beside the bus.  The Kindle will be jiggling about a bit, so I want clear script that easy on the eye, simple page turning and a progressive story. I don’t want to have to stop and wonder about the sentence I’ve just read and I’m hardly likely to ponder the beauty of the prose among 30 other coughing, sniffing, laughing, chattering travellers.
I begin to see that many stories are designed with an e-reader in mind. Short sentences, fast narrative, simple language – these stories won’t ever be published in the old fashioned sense, but boy are they selling on the e-book scene.  Let’s hope that the two remain distinct forms of reading. I’d hate for all reading to merge into one simple mass.

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