Problems with E-books

I love my kindle. It’s small. It fits in my bag perfectly, I can carry thousands of pages without needing a massive bag, and my arms won’t fall off. The books tend to be cheaper, I can even get free books, and it’s easier as a reviewer to get ebooks to review.

Before I got my kindle I really was unsure. I thought you couldn’t replace a real book. The feel of paper in your hands, the smell of the paper and the ink. The idea of snuggling up with what was essentially a computer just seemed impossible. I would say I still prefer the overall experience of reading a paper book, but actually snuggling up with my kindle is sometimes easier, especially when a paper version would be a big tome.

However there are some things which really annoy me about kindle books. I dislike that amazon presumes where you want to start a book, and where you want to finish it. I usually flick back (I say flick but you can’t really flick a kindle book) to the actual beginning, the cover page, because amazon will miss out those little quotes, or the forward, or any other little bit that comes before the first ‘official’ chapter, and sometimes these really add to the book itself. Amazon will also tell you that you’ve finished a book before the afterword, or the appendix, or the thanks, they aren’t always things you read, but again they often add a little something. According to amazon the book I just read (‘Animal’ by Sara Pascoe) starts at 2% and finishes at 98%, and I can tell you that there are actual interesting things to read in that extra 4%.

It’s actually ‘Animal’ which started me off on this whole train of thought.  ‘Animal’ has footnotes. I am yet to find a kindle book with footnotes which work (I’ve mentioned it before in reviews I believe). In ‘Animal’ the footnotes are at the end of the chapter, in a paper book that’s fine because you can flick back and forth (which I still don’t find perfect but it’s easy enough), in a kindle book you can’t flick, you either have to click through each page, or just wait and read all the footnotes when you’ve finished the chapter, by which time you’ve forgotten what most of them refer to. If it’s just references that’s one thing, but in ‘Animal’ it actually adds to the writing as it is written, which means that you do need to know what the footnotes refer to. ‘The Princess Bride’ actually uses footnotes as part of the story, that must be a nightmare on kindle. I don’t know if it’s the publishers who are causing this problem by the way they reformat books for kindle, or if it’s that amazon doesn’t allow formatting which works out better, but either way it really frustrates me.

The other books which don’t really work are the sort of books which are designed to be flicked through rather than read from cover to cover, although those type of books are more for sharing so I wouldn’t personally buy them for kindle so that doesn’t matter so much.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Problems with E-books

  1. I loved my kindle but you are right about the footnotes!

  2. Love my kindle too, and love the highlighting and search feature which are a compromise for not being able to flick back, I like how I can read a sample before deciding to buy a book, which I may get the physical copy and for reading galleys and I have a number of books I dip into daily which means I don’t have to carry them around, but they certainly aren’t the same thing, just a nice complement to the real thing.

  3. I find my kindle useful but holding it doesn’t fill me with joyful anticipation like a real book does. Those irritations you mention like a book finishing at 98% annoy a lot of people and it is certainly harder to flick back and forth. I use the highlight feature a lot to mark bits but I think I prefer a book with post-it-notes sticking out of it really.

  4. I love my kindle and I always feel a bit guilty about how much I love it! I’ve read quite a few books with footnotes on my kindle. Usually you can click in the little number and it will bring up a pop up with the footnote or bring you to that footnote and then you can click back to your page, so you don’t have to scroll or wait til the end of the chapter.

  5. I do love the Kindle app but I still find a physical book much more appeealing. It really annoys me when the Kindle says “24 min left in this chapter” I feel like the pleasure of reading is reduced by someone timing me…

  6. I don’t really use the highlighter feature, although I guess really I could give it a go so I can put quotes in my reviews.

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