Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Further reflections on e-books

Yesterday night I read some more Tess, this time on my little laptop, and it was just as easy and not as heavy. The cat was happy beside it. Apart from enjoying the book very much (I was too young to enjoy it when I read it first time), I tried to think what was actually different from reading a paper book. One thing, of course, is that you cannot physically see how much you have read and how much is still to read. Although Kindle told me, when I put in a bookmark, that I had read 15%. Putting in a bookmark is good, and unlike a physical bookmark, you cannot lose it. I have all kinds of fancy bookmarks, but I always end up using a receipt or a boarding pass.

What I definitely miss is the paratexts. As one of my students would expertly explain, paratexts is everything that is not part of the text. The cover, for instance. There is no cover on my Kindle Tess, and thus no cover image. I don't really mind it, but still worth noting. What I mind - or at least lack - is the back cover, with a publisher blurb. I tell my students to skip blurbs because they are stupid, but I always read blurbs carefully, perhaps exactly because they are stupid. Especially when you have read the book before and know how stupid the blurb is.

I also miss the pages where the author is presented.I miss the copyright page. I miss the table of contents - I always go back to it several times when I read a book. For Tess particularly, I miss the Introduction, timeline and notes they have in Penguin Classics. I usually read notes in advance because I don't wnat to be interrupted in my reading, but don't want to miss the comments. I guess there is another e-edition of Tess that has notes hyperlinked. Kindle has, without my consent, downloaded Oxford American (!) dictionary so that I can look up words I don't know. I haven't tried it yet, but it might prove useful. They say you ought to read books to learn.

I do not not miss the gentle rustle of pages, nor the feel of paper. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with me?


Staffan said...

A god, estethically well made pocket book is a sensual experience. (Like Penguin classics, or Puffins.)When will they make electronical books like that? Then I will be for it.

Maria Nikolajeva said...

I agree, There are certainly situation in which a lovely, pretty,leather-bound books with gorgeous pictures are preferable. But I have aleeady discovered that at lest half of the books on my Shelfari list are available on Kindle, and many of them free, I am finally going to read The Origin of Species and other stuff,

Anonymous said...

Masha, there are several versions of the same book, depending on who made it into e-book, some quite expensive , they may come with illustrations, introduction and table of contents.Before You buy them you can see details, I also like sampling. You will see which one you like better, Also look at reviews, Although they may be misleading. I wanted to buy Master and Margarita for my children who don't read Russian, and was really confused to chose the best translation,Tanya