Digitizing the classics

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There’s a lot that I love about my Kindle, but a few things I still have reservations about, as well. Many of them seem like the sort of things that will be fixed and refined over time: the keyboard drives me nuts (I keep on inadvertently pressing the space bar when I hold it in my lap), as does that second-long lag when you go from one page to the next. Pressing a button to change the page seems absurdly inferior to the swipe-style tablet interface — probably because it’s less book-like — but I’m guessing it won’t be long before Kindle offers a tablet version, too.

Less trivially, I cannot wrap my head around the lack of pagination. I know it’s hard with so many different devices and screen sizes, but there are just too many location numbers in one book for the number to be meaningful or memorable.

Finally, there are just things that printed books do better. For the past few weeks, I’ve been tackling War and Peace on the Kindle, and while it’s great not to have to lug around the heavy printed tome, it’s also surprisingly difficult to navigate around the text. I have been frustrated to no end by the fact that I can’t simply use my finger to hold my place and flip back to the part at the beginning that lists the characters, their relationships, and their alternate names. Sure, I could (and have) bookmarked that section electronically, but it’s at least three clicks to get there.

Similarly, to get to a footnote, I have to click, click, click, click with the cursor till it’s at that line, click, click over to the asterisk, making sure I don’t go too far or inadvertently start highlighting, click the asterisk, wait, read the footnote, then click the “Back” button and continue reading. And heaven help me if I want to flip back to the previous chapter to remind myself of something that happened! I never thought my thumbs would feel this under-utilized.

2 thoughts on “Digitizing the classics

  1. IIRC, they now have pagination on the Kindle. I’ll have to double-check, but I’m pretty sure they do. Just checked the iPad app and it does at least. I can’t help you solve the other challenges, but maybe this will help just a little.

  2. I am really enjoying the nook, specifically because of the no keyboard. The new touchscreen is really responsive and a lot faster than I thought.
    There’s still not a great way for footnotes, in my opinion it’s something that needs to be figured out in the production… Let’s see how it turns out.
    Still love paper, but I also want trees to be around for a while longer, if you know what I mean.

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