As most of you know, I bought two eReaders last year, the Sony Reader and the Kindle (which I’m both yet to properly review or compare) and eBooks and eReading has been a major focus of this blog for some time now; a lot of it has been complaining but I do really love the Kindle and where eBooks are going.
But at the moment, the two books I am reading are in print, not digital. I’m reading them because they’re not out as eBooks (one’s not released yet at all) which I’ve spoken about before, but also, I’m enjoying reading in print again, especially new print books.
You see, one of the things that bothers me about both print books and digital books is the way they’re formatted, especially with long form text. Reading short pieces on the Kindle is a dream, better than scrunched up print outs out of your bag and so loading lots of beta reading is fun, but it becomes split even when it comes to novels.
I hate text that is small, bunched up, dense, not spaced out. I’m big fan of double-spacing, normal paragraph sizes and eloquent fonts. If something isn’t formatted right, I find it harder to read, even a deterrent. This is a bit OCD of me and I realise a lot of people won’t have a problem with this like I do, but hey, the internet gives us the freedom to rant about small things to only some people care about.
Comparing eBooks to old out of copyright titles, the eBook with its standard formatting beats the tatty second hand copy or the old editions. With newer paperbacks though, I think eReaders and eBooks are a bit behind.
Firstly, a lot of books are just badly formatted and full of errors. My copy of Cell from Kobo Books has really wide margins in an eReader, my partner’s copy of The City and The City has all accented letters in capitals. I’ve seen numerous mistakes and from professional publishers, it’s more than disappointing. The quality of formatting seems more lax than in print. Not to mention no response from publishers or retailers about fixing problems.
But secondly, there’s even a problem with the lack of options in the eReaders themselves. You can only change the size of the font on the Sony Reader and the only font is damn ugly. You can choose two or three fonts with the Kindle but even that doesn’t suffice, but it is better. Fonts in print books seem to often complement the content and style of the writing which is then harder to replicate with an eBook when there aren’t that many options. I’ve heard that you can embed fonts but haven’t seen publishers utilise this yet. If you’ve seen them do this, then point me in the right direction.
Some people prefer books formatted in different ways to other people so the benefit of a digital version should be the ability to have a choice, to change it according to your own tastes instead of the one size fits all of print publishing but at the moment, my two print books look much nicer than the stuff I have on my eReaders.
Defenders of print books cite how the books look and feel as to why they won’t switch but I don’t think it has to be this way. With a little effort, eBooks could look much nicer and more personalised.