HD: Are E-Books Truly Different? 
Posted: 29 May 2012 03:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In the future, will writers change the way they tell stories?

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Posted: 29 May 2012 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My first reaction was to simply wonder what the possible difference could be.  Then I read Grammar Girl’s comment about knowing that the end was coming just from knowing that there weren’t many pages left.  This was echoed in some of the comments.  It seems that having this can act as a crutch for the writer.  I have never read an ebook, but it looks like the information is available.  The difference is that it’s something you have to go looking for and not something that is coming in automatically through your hands and eyes.

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Posted: 29 May 2012 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I found that bizarre; it never would have occurred to me that someone could not know the end of an e-book was coming.  At the bottom of the page there is not only a bold percentage but a line showing graphically how far along you are; as you turn the pages, the line gets longer and the percentage rises.  If anything, I’m more aware of how far along I am than with printed books; I am, for instance, exactly 66% of the way through the novel I’m reading.  If I’m an outlier, she may have a point, but if (as I strongly suspect) she’s the outlier—the ability to completely ignore such a prominent feature of the e-book page strikes me as pretty uncommon—than no, authors aren’t going to change the way they write just for her.

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Posted: 29 May 2012 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Much depends on the reader software. On the ones that I usually use I turn off the progress bar. I don’t like the “page” cluttered with extraneous stuff. Of course, I can, and do, check it when I want to see how much is left.

But looking at the progress bar is not the same cognitive process as feeling the heft of the remaining pages in your hand. The latter is subliminal, pervading your understanding of where you are in the book as you read.

I note the same disorientation in my “progress” through the story that I feel in an ebook as I do with collections of stories bound in same volume. I don’t get that sense in a physical novel.

[Ed: added “software” for clarity.]

[ Edited: 29 May 2012 10:00 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 29 May 2012 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Huh.  Well, everybody’s different!

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Posted: 30 May 2012 12:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Of course, e-books and novels are a lot more similar than novels and television are, so the differences are likely to be more subtle, but they should still be there.

That struck me as an odd thing to say, contrasting novels with e-books. Those are two different kinds of categories. Anna Karenina is a novel, whether it is pressed on dead tree or flicking across an LED screen.

I don’t have a strong opinion on whether the advent of the e-book will change the structure of novels in the future: I could guess that they might get longer, as there would be no need to draw a line for the sake of portability. Would Leon Uris or Marion Bradley have ever stopped typing if there were no practical page limits? (BTW, don’t try cracking a turtle with a Kindle.)

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Posted: 30 May 2012 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That struck me as an odd thing to say, contrasting novels with e-books.

Yeah, what I was getting at was a physical long-form novel, bound as a single unit.

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Posted: 30 May 2012 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think it was just a bad ending to the book she was reading (as one of the notes noted). I read one like that recently and almost threw the damned book out a window.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Oecolampadius - 30 May 2012 10:23 AM

I read one like that recently and almost threw the damned book out a window.

May I be the first to say: don’t try THAT with an e-book ...

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