Saturday, July 17, 2010

The book poster for "The Jungle Book,&quo...Image via Wikipedia
Electronic Books, Any Good Then ?

I downloaded three of the most popular book reading applications for the i-Phone ("It's not broken - you're holding it wrong" - attr. Steve Jobs) to see if reading books on a small screen could be in any way comparable to reading a real paper book.

I have to say, that although debate might simmer over which of the actual devices is better, when the Kindle, Stanza and i-Book are compared on the i-Phone, there isn't a whole lot of difference in how the apps work or indeed in their appearance.

I first tried reading Mary Shelley's The Last Man, this wasn't easy on the small screen, Shelley's large dense paragraphs of descriptive prose entirely filled the screen and made getting through the first few pages a difficult task.  There just isn't enough space onscreen, or perhaps I'm just not used to the format yet.

I swapped over to the i-Book where I had downloaded The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, this was incredibly easy to read, small paragraphs and concise bits of dialogue made for very easy going indeed, an ideal electronic book.  I finished The Jungle Book in two days just by reading bits when at work in between orders.

Both Stanza and i-Book give you access to loads of e-books, I havn't bought a book yet, but I have downloaded a heap of free classics from Project Gutenberg on the Stanza and from similar free resources on the i-Book.  Many of the books you can find for free on these two devices will cost you money if you get them for the Kindle, and the Amazon/Kindle purchasing interface is far less slick and easy to navigate than the other two.

I don't think that any of these apps are ever going to lure me away from reading real books, indeed I bought four books yesterday, but for some purposes, not having to carry a book and a phone when going out for example, I have a dread fear of spending any time at all without a book. Can you imagine what train / bus / plane journeys would be like without being able to read ? Oh the horror.

On the subject of books, I spent the book tokens yesterday that Mum and Dan in law kindly gave me for my birthday, my haul (bought from the nicely independent Grove Bookshop) was...

Curiosities of Literature - John Sutherland
Eunoia - Christian Bok
The Noticeably Stouter Book Of General Ignorance - John Lloyd & John Mitchinson
Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities - Ian Stewart

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