Reading is a topic that a lot of us get fired up about, mainly because we all do so much of it. It’s a field many of us are very experienced in. When people make decisions about buying a hardcore or a softcover book, they’re using their experience to make that choice. That’s why talking about the perfect reading experience is so tough — no two people have the same tastes.
That’s my word of warning as I enter into this: the following article, even more so than usual, is nothing more than my opinion. But let me be the one to tell you, and I hope you’ll agree, my opinion is certainly the most correct one. I’ll start by saying that the new iBooks for iOS 7 is terrible. Whereas before, choosing between iBooks and Kindle was tough, the decision just got a whole lot easier. Quite simply, I’m about to tell you why I prefer the Kindle experience over iBooks.
Kobo is a Toronto-based company that makes devices and apps to improve your reading experience. The company holds a significant market share in the eReaders space and is already ahead of Amazon in many countries. It builds four different kinds of eReader devices and also maintains its own Kobo app which is supported in many different devices and platforms.
I’ve been a Kindle user for a few years now. I love it, mostly because it’s great at one thing and one thing only: immersing yourself in reading. Everything from the screen, to the store, to the battery and the size, provides a perfect experience for reading books.
When I got my iPad, I didn’t know what would happen. Would I end up selling my Kindle and replacing it with my iPad, or would I end up using both. I think you can guess for yourself what happened. Here’s why…
How does the Kindle app measure up to the Kindle device? Taking into account the more obvious differences such as screen technology and greyscale/colour, has the function of the popular Kindle device been adequately matched or improved upon in the iPad app? What thought has gone into the function and usability of the application, and its interaction with the wider technological world?
Are there similar ways to configure the reading experience? Are all features supported across both platforms?
Let’s explore these areas a little…
There’s no doubt that e-books are taking off like a rocket at the moment. Indeed, there are already dozens of articles proclaiming that the hardcopy book is dead, that bookstores will cease to exist within five years, and that authors should ditch their publishers and agents and go it alone in the brave new world of digital publishing.
I think we should take all such claims with a generous pinch of salt, but it remains true that reading books in electronic form is growing more and more popular, and that the range of e-books available is growing rapidly every day.
If you own a dedicated e-book reader like a Kindle, then your reading experience is going to be just as good, or bad, as your device. But if you own a multi-purpose tablet like an iPad, there are now many different e-reader apps available for you to consume your reading matter. Here I’m going to have a look at the top six e-book reader apps to see how they compare in usability and features (plus one web app as a bonus). To make the comparison as fair as possible, I compared the apps by looking at a public-domain work available in all stores.
The computer is, according to the traditional mindset, largely a proxy device. There is little to no direct input from the user; every action is interpreted through either the keyboard, mouse, or trackpad. Because of these proxy input methods, we’ve developed a sort of digital mindset; we think of a file as something to be clicked on, we interpret each click of the mouse as being our real, natural input.
What, then, happens when a device comes along without a physical keyboard or mouse? This question has become more pronounced throughout the introduction of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and (more recently) the iPad.
Much of Apple’s marketing around the iPad has been that ‘it just works’ or that being able to touch the application, or the application’s interface, is ‘magical’. I’m inclined to agree; the iPad is changing, and will continue to change, the way that we think about computers and how we interact with them. Through one simple, basic concept; touch.
The entire computing world has been flipped on its head and forced to answer some hard questions.
The electronic book. Fantasized about for decades by sci-fi authors and readers alike, yet one of the last analog mediums to enter the digital realm. Why is that?
What is it about a book that makes it so difficult to translate the experience into a digital medium?
I think it has to do with the way we define a book, and how broad that definition really is. The problem is that we’re looking for one solution to the digital book problem, one answer that packages our bookshelves into bits and bytes. The ePUB standard has been proposed as that answer. But it isn’t the complete answer, and I’m not sure it ever can be.
The things we today call books have fundamental differences that can’t be reconciled by any one standard that’s currently been proposed. Why is that? What’s missing? And how can we fix it?