I’ve wanted to check out different ways of experiencing books for a while, to see what each of the different mediums are like. In January I checked out an audiobook, which I found was a pretty enjoyable experience. Now I’m taking a look at what it’s like to read an e book on my phone.
Now obviously books are going to look and behave differently depending on what device you’re reading and what app you’re using. For this test I was using an iPhone and the app “Books – 23 469 Classics To Go” by Digital Press Publishing. I chose this app because I’ve wanted to read more classic literature, and this gave me access to tons! It has any of the classics that are in the public domain, such as Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Lewis Carroll and so many more. I chose to start with The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I hope to review soon!
I didn’t think that I’d like sitting and holding a device rather than book, but it’s actually nicer than I thought it would be. Because I’m already so used to holding my phone to read things like my Twitter feed, news feeds, texts and emails, reading a book was a really easy transition. I even found reading from my phone while curled up on the couch or in bed was comfortable. It was also a nice bonus that I could set it down for a second and keep reading – I didn’t have to hold the page open! Plus I found “turning” the page by swiping a finger felt like a natural movement, and overall I was quite comfortable.
For the most part, I like the way the book appears on the screen. I was worried that the type size would be too small on the screen to read, but it’s actually really good. The app also eliminates all the toolbars and menus when I’m reading, so I get the advantage of the full screen for the book page. It’s also nice that the background isn’t quite a white, it’s sepia-toned, so I don’t find it harsh on my eyes.
The only funny perk about the app is actually due to the book that I’m reading. Because some of the classics have such long sentences – they are so fond of commas – sometimes the sentence is actually longer than what can fit on one page. It’s kind of funny to think that the page can’t fit a single sentence, but it just goes to show you how little a page can really fit when it’s on a mobile device. I did find this an issue as I had to continuously swipe/turn the pages to get through a single thought, and it made the reading a little bit choppy. This would be less of an issue with books written in a style with shorter sentences, but even so paragraphs and sometimes even chapters felt very stuttered.
My largest issue with reading on my phone is my inability to sense how far I’ve actually progressed through the book. When reading a physical book, it takes one second to glance at how far you are through the book, or how many pages you have left in the chapter. But when I’m reading on my phone, I feel like I never know. Now, the app does tell me that I am on page 746 of 942, and it does have a progress bar to show me how far I am, but I don’t like these. It’s just not the same to me as it is to hold the book in your fingers and see how thick the remainder is. Plus I think a major downfall is that I have no idea where chapters start or stop. When I’m tired at night, I can’t read until the end of the chapter, because I don’t know where it is and I have no way to search for it besides swiping through a bunch of pages to find it. I like knowing where I am in a book, and the mobile e book doesn’t really allow that.
So despite these small issues, overall I really did like reading on my phone. I love how portable and easy it is to use. I find that I can pull it out at any time – on the bus, at lunch time, or waiting for a friend – and it’s not as bulky or obvious as a printed book can be. It’s also nice to have so many different books available to me, versus the one printed book. While I’m still very attached to printed books and will never stop reading them, I really did enjoy this experience and I will definitely continue to read books on my phone.