Not something I used tremendously (or at all really), but something I can see many other users finding essential is the ability to increase or decrease font size. Maybe because of the small iPod Touch screen, I really didn’t feel the need to increase the font size, as its a smaller device and can be held closer to the eyes than an iPad or Kindle. I could definitely see myself increasing font size for legibility purposes on a larger device that’s held a bit further away.
This is the toggle feature I was speaking of above – basically all the features I’ve previously mentioned: search, bookmarks, pages remaining and font size can all be hidden by simply tapping the screen anywhere on my iPod Touch. This is a beautiful feature, as it instantly cleans the page of any extraneous information, leaving that all-so-essential white space as a backdrop that is a joy to read against. This feature reminds me of browser plugins like “Readability”, that do the same for articles on web sites: they feed you just the content, which if you haven’t tried it, is a beautiful thing.
Table of Contents
Books have had tables of contents ever since books were large enough to be divided into chapters, but the digital revolution has brought about one nice enhancement: clickable tables of contents. At any point in the reading process, you can click the “table of contents” icon in iBooks, and then click on any chapter, and you’re instantly transported to that chapter. Depending on how quickly you can turn pages (without ripping them), this is arguably a quicker process than paper books.
Translation to Digital Format
One underlying feature of both eReaders and eBooks is the translation to digital format by the publisher. There are two essential steps here. First, the publisher must do a good job of translating from paper to digital. In The Way of Kings, I found a number of typos and grammar errors that didn’t make the transition gracefully. Second, the eReader must be able to take the translated digital information and display it properly. What this means for you, oh courageous consumer, is that you should check out a few samples of the type of book you plan to read on an eReader before you make your purchase. Obviously a technical manual with a lot of images is going to render very differently than a fiction novel. Even in The Way of Kings, it appeared to have a number of beautifully rendered illustrations peppered throughout, unfortunately iBooks does not allow you to zoom, so I wasn’t able to see any of the detail in any of them. Not essential in a novel, but a very different story in a technical book.
Last, but surely not least, is the ability to help save our environment that eReaders offer. This is kind of a feature by default of any eReader, but its something that we should not ignore. Not only do eReaders provide all the goodies for me, me, me, they also help contribute to the betterment of mankind. I can’t think of many other consumer products that I can say the same for.
Overall, reading a fiction novel on my iPod Touch was more of a joy than I had originally expected, and one that I tested under fairly strenuous conditions (Google “Way of Kings word count”). I think I’ll be making the shift to eBooks for more of my fantasy novels, and likely purchase a full eReader in the near future. I know I’ll definitely be making sure it has all the features above and more.