Writing, speaking, and translating the future

The ebook and the reader’s experience

The ebook and the reader's experience 1

Jeff Bezos has said of the Kindle “The one thing you’ll notice about the Kindle is that it does disappear when you read it.”

And on many levels I think that is true. But I can think of four books that would benefit from utilizing the ebook format in a more visible way.

Milorad Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars: A lexicon novel, and Landscape Painted with Tea, Julio Cortázár’s Hopscotch or Rayuela, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire are four novels that would be even better as digital books.

All of these works depend on active readers. What I mean is that as a reader of these books you are encouraged to flip pages continually to fully experience the novels. Thus they are ideal for ebook versions.

Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars: A lexicon novel is devised as a dictionary in three parts. The three parts represent Christian, Islamic, and Hebrew characters and their interaction with the Khazars. The reader can read it through from beginning to end, or the reader can follow the character’s and stories from one dictionary and dictionary entry to others. This book would be even more meaningful with anchors and hypertext between entries.

Pavic’s Landscape Painted with Tea

Pavic designed this book as novel with a riddle. To solve the riddle the reader must find clues throughout the novel and input them into a crossword puzzle in the center of the book.  This novel would allow hypertext, anchoring and Kindle’s new KDK to be showcased.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire

Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire is a poem with notes and stories by the poet’s friend. This again is a perfect novel to show how reading on an ereader could enhance the meaning and depth of the novel.

Julio Cortázár’s Hopscotch or Rayuela

This novel comes with an instruction page.  The author suggests that the reader has the option of reading the first  half the novel and considering the story complete, or they can read the book in an order that he devised. An ereader could be used to allow the reader to choose their reading experience by providing the alternate readings. And the novel could even be read twice in the two suggested orders.

Though there is value in having an ereader that facilitates reading as we’ve always known it, and provides a convenience we never could have dreamed of, the digital ereader will change the reader experience. This will mostly be a matter of personal taste, but I think it is important for ereader companies to illustrate the value they bring to the reader experience by encouraging certain publishers to make digital versions of their content available.

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