Thursday, November 17, 2011
Some Curmudgeonly Quibbles about eReaders
"Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" just appeared on Kindle this morning (see http://amzn.to/u9bYWa). You can see there that I was able to use my own cover drawing. Naturally, I purchased a copy of the piece for my own Kindle and I can't resist comparing the process of reading it in that format with the experience of doing the same with a "real" book. And that's the difference; the first is a process while the second is an experience.
There is nothing aesthetic about words scrolling down a screen; the simplest and most humble physical book is a work of art compared to the formless blob of words you get with an eReader. Now, some of that may be my own fault (I consider all this to be a learning experience). For example, next time I would begin the words on the title page right at the top because most of the time centering them makes them run off the bottom and onto the next page. I say, "most of the time" because you never seem to get the same display twice. If I start with the cover and page forward once, I get a display with the author's name on the second page. But if I use the Go To feature to go to the Beginning, it displays the title right at the top of the page with the word "Monster" shifted over against the left margin. Why?
There was the problem that certain parts of the t.p. and headings emerged underlined, even though I didn't underline them in the uploaded text. I fixed the title by taking it out and retyping it, but one other place remained underlined and I just left it. I think it's something I did, but I have no idea what and it really doesn't detract from the reading of the text. There are also a couple of gratuitous little centered dashes that just appeared out of nowhere. One of them is at the very beginning of the text and I now cannot find the other one; maybe it disappeared. Somewhere I read that people sometimes leave stray bits of HTML stuck in the text. Could that be what that is?
Somewhere I think I mentioned the fact that Kindle wouldn't accept hanging indention so I had to reformat the last section with normal paragraph indention. I can accept that, but on the reader, if you go to the end and page backwards, it refuses to indent paragraphs that begin the tops of pages. When you page forward as you normally would, it seems to do OK. And of course with the small size of the page and the variability of the type size, there is no way to prevent the rather long section headings from splitting between pages.
It's aesthetically formless, that's all you can say. But the text is all there and you can read it just fine if you choose to buy the Kindle version, and what I want to do is get people to read my books. Personally, I will always prefer the physical artifact of a real book -- something where you can feel the texture of the paper, smell the ink and the paper (and maybe the leather if you're lucky enough to read a really old book), stick your finger or a slip of paper in a later spot if you want to compare two places in the text -- well, you know. As an old librarian who worked mostly in the pre-computer days, that will always be my preference! By the way, just now I tried smelling the CreateSpace copy of "Monster" and it smells a little lemony! Maybe they should add an ink, paper, and leather smell to the Kindle!