Read in your lap, not on your laptop!  

by | Jul 12, 2021 | 0 comments

There is a war today for the soul of readers. Do you prefer reading digitally on a Kindle, Nook, etc., or do you read from a printed book? I have a foot in both camps. I find I do most of my fiction reading on a Kindle. Regardless of a book’s length, I like that it takes up the same space on my Kindle. Plus, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and read. It’s nice to have an illuminated book, so I don’t have to turn on a light and give up on getting back to sleep quickly!

And then there’s storage. I have read hundreds of books since I have been using my Kindle. But, unfortunately, my local library can’t take them all and, since I simply can’t throw away a book, even a paperback, where would I put them?

On the other hand, I find a Kindle to be an unsatisfactory way to read non-fiction. This is particularly true of history, especially one with photographs and maps that need to pair with the copy and not be grouped together somewhere in the middle or back of the book.

I looked into converting my book, Daughter of the Land, growing up in the Citrus Capital of the World, into a digital format. After providing conversion software called MOBI, which hadn’t been upgraded in a decade, Amazon offered a new application. It provided free links of 25 or less and then charged $5.00 for links after that. A link is for every picture and caption. Since I have over 265 photos in my book with captions, I had almost 600 links! It would have cost me over $27,000 to convert to a digital book. That wasn’t even adding in the cost of the experts to do the work! This was more than three times what it cost to print my book.

Digital copy is based around the concept of “flowable text.” Need to bump up the print size you are reading? Change from 12 to 15-point type, for instance, and the text smoothly flows through the book in that new size. Then, for instance, the text smoothly flows through the book in that new font size. However, the result is that page numbers are no longer relevant, which then makes tables of content and indices no longer accurate. 

And yes, I know I can highlight lines and bookmark sections, but I find it cumbersome to retrieve them. For example, I can’t flip through the pages of a digital book, looking for a particular section or photograph. 

Bookmaking, like almost every other means of production, is undergoing change. The digital book has its place, but it can never replace the look, feel, and experience of reading from a printed book. Thus my battle cry – read in your lap, not on your laptop!

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