Booking Through Thursday: Interactive?

Numerique - papier - un texte est un texte

I detect a bias in the way this week’s Booking Through Thursday question was asked:

With the advent (and growing popularity) of ebooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive … videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.

How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?

I know that there is a dedicated group of readers who seem to be anti-ebook and are worried about the direction reading is going in. I am not among their membership. I think ebooks are great. I think the possibilities for books are opening up. Who knows what ways we might be able to interact with them? I have an app on my iPhone that is a version of “The Three Little Pigs” (iTunes link) illustrated and read by a six-year-old boy in Texas. I also have another app based on “The Velveteen Rabbit,” (iTunes link) one of my favorite stories as a child because oh! I wanted my toys to become real. The app allows me to watch a video based on the book, read the book, listen to Meryl Streep read it, or read and record myself. I have a Sherlock Holmes Vook (video book—iTunes link) on my iPhone that allows me to view videos that contain insights into Sherlock Holmes and Victorian London. My [amazon_link id=”B002FQJT3Q” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link] has a feature that allows me to see what passages other readers like enough to highlight. I can share my own notes and highlights with others and access them online later with a secure link. It sure beats thumbing through a book trying to find that passage again. I love being able to move my cursor to look up words I don’t know in the dictionary.

If you haven’t guessed the answer to my question, I’m excited about the possibilities that ebooks and devices like the iPad and Kindle offer readers. Who says that reading has to fit some narrow definition or be confined by some idea that a book isn’t supposed to be a certain way? If you don’t want to interact with your book, you have the option not to—paper books have not gone anywhere and won’t go anywhere soon. I for one think that now is an exciting time to be a reader (and a writer—ebooks are opening up the closed world of publishing to indie writers like me).

I am starting to see a trend among readers who want to stop any sort of change. The most disturbing aspect of this trend to me is that these types of readers seem to believe that they are somehow more authentic readers or love books more because they don’t like ebooks. That’s snobbery. Why be so judgmental? So it’s not for you. Don’t do it. You can avoid ebooks if you want. But to insinuate that interactive features that are now available with the advent of ebooks detract from reading and are not what reading is ABOUT is a fairly antiquated opinion to hold. It rather reminds me of folks who insist graphic novels aren’t real books or that one should not read books like romance novels, mysteries, or chick lit. Bottom line? People should be able to read what they want, however they want, and other folks should have better things to do than stick their noses in the air about it.  Put your nose back in your paperback where it belongs. I guess I am getting a little tired of these snobs telling me I shouldn’t read ebooks.

The subtitle of the photo I chose for this post is “un texte est un texte.” Translated into English, that means “a text is a text.” Exactly so.

Edited to add:

I forgot to mention ebooks on the iPad and Kindle and just about every other reader I can think of allow readers to change the font size, which opens up reading to people who couldn’t. So there is also that.

photo credit: Remi Mathis

Kindle versus Nook

Kindle or Nook?

Kindle versus Nook

I want an e-book device, but I have decided that an iPad is definitely out of my price range. I don’t like rushing out and buying a new gadget because it seems as though it always has some kinks that need to be ironed out, and sure enough, I’ve been reading about problems with wifi and temperature issues in the iPad. I waited until the second generation to purchase an iPhone. I have been extremely happy with my iPhone. The iPad is an awfully pretty device, like most Apple products, but until it’s less expensive and I know more about what it can do for me, I’m afraid an iPad is not an option.

I am an Amazon Associate, as you may know if you visit regularly. I earn a tiny bit on each Amazon sale conducted as a result of visitors purchasing items linked to from this site. I’m not entirely sure how it works because sometimes I earn commissions based on items I know I never linked to. I guess if a person buys one item I linked to and adds other items to his/her cart, I earn a commission on those items, too. I have opted to be paid in Amazon gift certificates. I have saved about $100 in Amazon gift certificates and had planned to save enough (or nearly enough) to buy a Kindle. Now I’m wondering if I should just spend my gift certificates on something else and save for a Nook.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison based on my research:

Feature Kindle Nook
Price $259 $259
Weight 10.2 oz. 12.1 oz.
Size 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″ 7.5″ x 4.9″ x 0.5″
Available titles “Over 450,000”
+ 1.8 million out-of-copyright books
“Over a million”
Storage 1,500 books 1,500 books
Expandable microSDslot for more memory
ePub? No Yes
PDF? Yes Yes
Audible Yes No
Battery life Up to two weeks
(with wireless off)
Up to ten days
(with wireless off)
Free samples? Yes Yes
Lending? No Yes
Wireless? Yes Yes
3G? Yes Yes
Sync across devices? Yes Yes
Screen rotation? Manual No
Browser? Yes No
Yes Yes
Library eBooks? No Yes
Text to Speech? Yes No
Keyboard Physical Touchscreen
Content Returns? Yes, within 7 days of purchase Cannot be determined (assume no)
Return device? Yes, within 30 days Yes, within 14 days
10% restocking fee

Even though the two readers have many similarities, I think I have to give the edge to the Kindle. The browser and access to Wikipedia would be excellent additions to the reading experience (if you like to look up information in references, as I do). It would be nice to have access to library ebooks and to lend and borrow books to others, but both of these features can be turned off by publishers. The limited storage on the Kindle compared with the Nook doesn’t bother me; 1,500 books is a lot. I don’t really care about having text-to-speech, but it might help if I want to know how a word is pronounced. I prefer physical keyboards to touchscreen. I don’t know if I’m bothered by the fact that Kindle doesn’t support ePub because I don’t know enough about the issue. I love my Audible books, however, and Kindle supports Audible books. On the other hand, with the Nook, I can buy books from sellers other than Amazon; the Kindle locks users into using Amazon. Of course, that doesn’t bother me much as I mainly shop for books from Amazon anyway. The Nook is prettier than the Kindle, but I think I’m going to go with the Kindle. As a bonus, I can potentially pay nothing for a Kindle if I can keep saving through my referral fees.

If you have a Kindle or Nook, what are your thoughts about your device?

Update, 5/8/10: Consumer Reports’ Electronics Blog has a run-down of Kindle versus iPad. The iPad’s cost put it out of the running for me.

Image credit: Thought by AndrewIs