Ever since ebooks first appeared there has been an ongoing debate over how to best take advantage of the digital form. Ebooks can of course do things that are impossible for their paper brethren, but on the other hand, do all the extra gewgaws add to the reading experience?
This past week I came across a couple articles on this topic, both for and against. Rather than take a position, I’m going to quote key excerpts from the articles so they can inspire your thoughts bout the issue.
The first is from ComputerWorld. In this article Mark Gibbs argues that the ebook market won’t take off until ebooks can offer more than paper book. The problem with this is that we already have enhanced ebooks. The market has spoken and people prefer books that are like the ones they are already reading.
The big problem was that the content takes absolutely no advantage of the digital format. For example, there are quite a few tables that use text that is too small to read and that can’t be enlarged even by the usual iPad “zoom in” gesture. In other words, the platform is more or less ignored so what you have is a rough analog that is actually less useful than the physical book would be.
This is typical of many so-called e-books because, in common with the baby’s magazine experience, these publications, despite being called “e-books” and being displayed on devices such as iPads, simply don’t work well. As and when publishers understand this and start to produce something that does deliver value, I’ll bet e-book sales will really take off. Of course they won’t actually be e-books any more, they’ll really be apps.
The other article comes from Salon. Laura Miller examines a number of enhanced ebooks and looks at what works and doesn’t work. Here’s where she ended up:
Attempts to invigorate books with video and other digital bells and whistles keep bumping up against this fundamental problem: You can’t really pay much attention to anything else while you’re reading, so in order to play with any of these new features, you have to stop reading. If you’re enjoying what you’re reading, then the attentional tug of all these peripheral doodads is vaguely annoying, and if you’re not engaged by the story, they aren’t enough on their own to win you over.
So what do you think?
image by matthewvenn