Books and EBooks

I love books. Physical books. I love the smell of the paper. I love the feel and the sound of turning a page. I love good typography.

But I recognize this as fetishization.

The words in the book are what matter when we speak of books, no?

However, presentation matters. The words in a poorly designed book may be more difficult to read, the act of reading might be annoying, and the pleasure in the experience of reading may be lacking. Design is important in both senses: We want to transfer the thoughts of the writer to the reader with the most efficiency and we want to surround ourselves with aethetically pleasing objects.

I had a hand in the development of both the Kindle and the Kindle iOS app, and a decade later I’m not happy with the state of either. I was surprised and amused at how quickly ebooks took off and how quickly publishers made their books available electronically. The hardware and software are all fine.

Where I find major problems, still, a decade later, is with the formatting of the books themselves. A wall of text in a novel is just fine, but the moment chapter heading and god-forbid tables and charts are added the experience is reduced to the worst the ugly web has to offer.

I’ve been attempting to experiment with better ways to present books electronically.

Guido’s rules for a reading device