walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

By way of contrast: a thoughtful comparison of e- vs. p- form reading

Again, courtesy Nate from The Digital Reader


I suppose I should start by noting the author is correct: serious non-fiction reads a lot slower than genre fiction, in e- or p- form. And all our adaptions -- whether trained or evolved on our own -- to studying serious non-fiction (a finger in the Notes at the end of the chapter or the back of the book, marking our "second" place in the book, as we read through the text) help us very little when reading e-form. The author doesn't appear to have a Paperwhite or other backlit ereader, so that's unfortunate. And the author hasn't found the search feature (yikes -- that would make it almost unusable). The complaints about pictures and trying to figure out who historical people were strike me as a big misguided. I habitually read non-fiction on the kindle with either a laptop or an iPad handy, so I can wikipedia or otherwise look up things I am wondering about. This is _way better_ than digging around in the index and rereading something I forgot from earlier in the book, because that only handles the case of it was mentioned but it slipped my mind. Wikipedia plus other sources found by googling around let me also find out whether the author is yanking me around. The closest p-form analogy would be reading about a topic while sitting in the stacks where that book would ordinarily be filed: you can check the author's work against the work of all those other people, right handy. (Have I done this? Oh yes, I have. And I've bought a half dozen books on a topic, just to make sure the book I wanted to read was as good as I wanted it to be -- or to make up for its shortcomings as they appeared.)

The pictures thing is tricky, however, I've had fantastic luck with google image search. I can usually find whatever is in the book in a larger/zoomable form online (not always).

And of course, that lovely disco book, _Hot Stuff_: I could listen to the music on youtube and buy it on iTunes.

But I really love this comparison. It's thoughtful, by someone who genuinely uses both forms, and with clear eyes can see and clear words convey the good and bad of each. I wish all e-book commentary was this good.

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