I recently finished reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson on my iPod Touch, and it was a revolution in reading for me. It wasn’t the first book I’d read on the device – I’d read a few non-fiction books (Rework by 37Signals and HTML5 for Web Designers by Jeremy Keith, to be exact), but this was the first fiction novel I’ve read in electronic format. With a novel, the expectations are a bit different.
All the things I’ve come to enjoy about reading fantasy literature were contrasted with reading in digital format: the comfort of getting cozy on the couch with a paper novel, escaping to a different world, and the ease with which I can accomplish both. I decided to highlight some of the features I enjoyed while reading on my iPod Touch, and that I’ll look for in the future in any device I decide to read eBooks on.
This is the fifth in a series of Top 10 posts covering the fantasy industry. Last week, we covered the Top 10 Fantasy Video Games of All Time.
Reading Without a Light
I found that reading on my iPod Touch, which is a device with a back light, was a significant advantage over paper books. Being able to read without a light means you don’t have to sit next to a lamp, and for me, being next to a hot light in Brazil is not fun this time of year. Other eReaders like the Nook and Kindle don’t have back lights, although newer color versions of the devices do. Having a back light is a feature that I’ll consider essential when deciding on purchasing a larger eReader in the future.
Reading with One Hand
Probably the most convenient feature of reading on my iPod Touch (and I could see doing this on an iPad or a Kindle as well), is the ability to read with one hand. Its like a Rondo no-look pass in basketball. I was able to dedicate my other arm, which is usually stuck holding the other half of a paper book so it won’t close, to other essential tasks, everything from hugging my wife on the couch to snacking to adjusting the music volume on my stereo. I never thought I’d want to be doing other stuff while reading, but this really just gives me the opportunity to read when I would normally be sitting on the couch with my wife watching some Brazilian novella I have absolutely zero interest in. Bravo, iPod Touch, bravo.
Searching books for keywords is something that has always taken a while with print, especially for me digging through web development reference books. With regard to fiction, being able to search is great for reviewing books here on FantasyBookNews.com – I don’t have to stop every time I encounter a quote that I want to pull for my review. I can make a mental note and then go back at the end of the chapter and search, in order to pull the exact quote. Of course, this feature is tied very closely with the next, which is…
Bookmarks are like the all-star feature of digital book readers. I can’t count how many times I’ve, in the past, stopped reading, found my notepad, picked up a pencil and jotted down a page number. No more! The bookmark feature in iBooks is fantastic, you can simply touch the bookmark icon in the upper right hand corner and iBooks will remember every page you tag. This is a revolution for me with regard to reviewing fantasy novels. Marge, I think I just tripled my production time.
I occasionally flip forward while reading paper books to see how many pages I have remaining in each chapter. With iBooks, you’re able to toggle whether the pages remaining appear on screen or not, letting the reader decide whether this is information they want to see, or whether they consider it a distraction and want to hide it. I played around with toggling this on and off the entire time I read The Way of Kings, if for nothing more than the fun of toggling. Toggle, toggle. No, seriously, this is a really nice feature that I’ll definitely look for in future eReader purchases.
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Those are the same reasons I got my Kindle. I was adamant that I’d get The Way of Kings in hardcover rather than digital because of the illustrations used. however, after seeing that the Kindle version reproduces these in full detail I’ve no reason to not do so. Yay, Kindle!