Writing an e-book about e-books for fun and no profit: Feb 1-14, 2012

Reading experiences with e-pubs

Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -
Number of replies: 58

What do you love and hate about e-books as a consumer/reader? 

What has been your favourite e-book reading experience to date, and why?  What made it a great reading experience? Give us a recommendation for reading, and a small pep talk about why it stands out for you.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Scott Leslie -

Hi Rick, good opening question! I have to admit - I have yet to have an eBook experience I've really enjoyed. Which I find interesting as I spend 8-12 hours a day reading electronic text! I have 3 devices I read with, and I think this is part of the issue. I have an iPhone with a bunch of different readers installed. Of these, Stanza has worked best for me. But it has not been a great experience in general - I doubt I've wanted to read for more than 15 minutes because of the small screen size, both because of general legibility (I finally broke down and got glasses last month!) but also because of how the small screen really doesn't handle flowing text well.

Christmas '10 I was given a Sony eReader. I was looking forward to this, and it does have a bigger screen than the iPhone, but at 7" it still doesn't feel like a great experience and I have found myself similarly bailing after 15 minutes or so of reading.

Finally, I read on ym Mac laptop. I read both ePubs (using a number of readers but also the Firefox plugin ePub Reader, which I do like), PDFs and of course just through the web browser. So far, honestly, the ones that have worked best are PDFs where someone has paid attention to the font and layout, and web-browsers using the Readability bookmarklet.

I do think some other platforms have dealt with the general readability issue better - lots of folks seem to love their kindles, and the few times I've used various tablets, the larger screen size and crisper graphics have made a big difference. I think part of the issue too is that I haven't availed myself of too many of the additional features that eBooks offer - I am not a big note taker and so the annotation and note features are often lost on me, and I don't commute so lots of the mobility advantages aren't as big a deal for me.

In terms of favourite experiences reading an eBook, right now the book/experience I am enjoying the most is Kevin Kelly's "What Technology Wants." I am just reading it as a PDF on my laptop, but someone really paid attention to the page and font design, and it is a joy to read, plus an amazingly thought provoking book.

How about others? Anyone else out there have experiences trying a few different platforms before finding one that worked for them? Or anyone else finding that some of the new affordances of eBooks really tipped the scales for them?

Cheers, Scott

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

Ohhhh... I just picked up Kelly's book too, and I loved the first chapter.  Now I'm really looking forward to it.  But I bought the Kindle version, so we can compare.  And I'm one of those folks who loves the Kindle.  In fact, I think I'm recognizing a trend in my preferences: I love devices that are dedicated to one thing.  Toasters toast, books present text and images, bicycles are for riding.  In the same way, the Kindle feels like a book to me because it is the only thing I use it for.  I know it does more, but not for me.  And I kind of like reading in black and white only (or 11% gray, or whatever it is), but then, I thought the world was coming to an end when Macintosh introduced a colour machine.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Scott Leslie -

So reading your other message to Julia just now, it sounds like you may have an iPad too? In which case, I'm intrigued; had I access to both a Kindle AND an iPad (that can run the kindle software, I think) I can't see why I'd want the Kindle anymore. And it seems to me that is indeed why Amazon chose to do both - a dedicate appliance AND an app. Both so they didn't constrain their market but also anticipating a day when dedicated devices disappeared.

I am really interested; my personal take is that "eBooks" are a combination of hangover from an older age and marketing ploy by both booksellers and hardware vendors, and that when you take the covers off it just looks like a bit of the web bundled up so it can sell. But maybe I am really missing something that is special to eBooks and eReaders?

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Terrie McAloney -

I have had a Kindle for two years... I read Kindle books on my 12 inch laptop and the Kindle... (Amazon allows downloads on both)  but I still like the old fashioned hard cover book... I go to used book stores in most new towns I visit .. how will that happen with e-books?  I like to turn pages -- the Kindle is great for bookmarks and looking up words in the dictionary...  I also download audio books from the library and listen to them on my laptop and iPod... and read them on my laptop - when Canadian libraries have access to Kindles I will no longer purchase books - I good reason to buy Kodo!  All three of my sons use e-Readers, but I notice they all still buy paper books... they say the e-Readers are great for travelling... convenience of taking100 books on a trip...

T

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Clint Lalonde -

I was thinking this exact thought with the hoopla with the Apple announcement last week. The whole book paradigm seems like such a holdover from another age - like a transitory metaphor. Kind of like the file folder metaphor on a computer. A digital manifistation of an analouge form that really doesn't apply to a web world. Why do we even need to hold on to this whole notion of a "book"? Is there value in having a "book" other than it gives publishers a way to package content?

In reply to Clint Lalonde

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Alannah Fitzgerald -

Dear Clint and All,

I have been captivated by this e-book event and the discussions around the reader experience. This has inspired me to launch my first blog post on what e-books mean to the ELT community in light of developments in the OER community and how we might better tap into these resources by joining in on open courses and events like this one. I'd be very grateful if anyone would like to read or comment on the blog, and by all means let me know how I can incorporate this linked post to your seminar into your e-book writing activity.

TOETOE - Technology for Open English, Toying with Open E-resources http://www.alannahfitzgerald.org/

Many thanks!

Alannah

In reply to Clint Lalonde

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

Here are the results on my poll re. book metaphor & epubs:

Graphic of TwtPoll results

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

Thanks, Julia.  Can't generalize from a dozen respondents, but it is interesting that this group was essentially split on the question.

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

I didn't buy a Kindle, but can tell you, if I was hauling to the beach for reading--would rather sand got in my Kindle than in my iPad!

Think one of the best marketing strategies Amazon had with Kindle is having an app for computers, phones, iOS, etc.

What I personally don't like about Kindle is there is little consideration of privacy. My colleague's experience was when her husband logged on to her Kindle--she now had access to his archive. If you don't want people to know what you're reading, the only real way to deal with it is to have Kindle periodically kill your account. Kindle does not let you permanently delete content from your account--it lives in your Archive or your online Media archive. I actually talked to a tech at Amazon--if you can believe it--by phone last year. Told me the only way to delete my books was to delete the account. Apparently Amazon doesn't want to have to reload books people delete then want to have back. :-s

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

I think you're right, that dedicated devices, especially devices dedicated to repackaging older technologies like books, will have a short life. I bought a Kindle first, before the iPad came out.  I came to like it a lot for conventional reading.  Then, of course, the iPad ratcheted up the experience, and I now have the Kindle app on the iPad too.  I use the Kindle when I'm in a sunny environment because it works well and the iPad doesn't in those lighting conditions.  Otherwise, I'm gravitating more and more to the iPad, and of course it is far superior once we move beyond anything more engaging than plain text.

 

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

Interesting. Are you color blind or color empaired? 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have difficulty distinguishing color (See Color Uncovered "Don't Let the Dog Drive").

Wonder if there's a correlation between color perception issues and preferences for black/white text. Theoretically, in my instructional design courses, I was taught it was because of the high contrast....also was taught that e-text should be sans-serif for easiest reading.

Julia

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

Nope, not colour-empaired as far as I know.  I'm guessing my affinity for B&W in books is tied to my long association with traditional print. It just feels right to me, not because it is, but because it is what I'm used to reading.  I'll be interested to see if my own preferences change over time.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

Hmmm--makes me think. When the linetype printing press was invented it was too costly for drawings & illustrations, if I remember correctly. Made books affordable but married to high text dependence.  Wonder if there's any primary documents discussing the transition to printing presses affecting the esthetics of a manuscript? Anyone?

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Terrie McAloney -

There is research that reading on the screen is easiest with sans-serif, but on paper is serif... so that brings the question - if we are printing an e-book should be in serif?

Also, there is research on colour and emotions and learning - would this be another reason why books are mainly black/white/grey.

T

In reply to Terrie McAloney

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

I know with CSS--style sheets--in web design, you can display in one font and force it to print in another. Think that should be standard in epub if you want to follow best practice indicated by research.

In reply to Terrie McAloney

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Hilda Anggraeni -

Working with font a lot of time, I'm curious about the use of serif vs sans-serif in print and and on-screen media. Below is a passage I got which explain briefly why we should use sans-serif for on-screen media:

" Text: Serif vs. Sans-Serif

When using fonts on screen, it is important to understand the differences between serif and sans-serif fonts. Serif fonts are the fonts that have little tails— fonts like Times, for example. A sans-serif font, such as Arial, lacks these tails. Due to the effects of anti-aliasing, it is important to try to avoid using serif fonts for on-screen use whenever possible. If the are to be used, they should be used at a size large enough to avoid the problems shown below. "

Resource: http://www.webdesignref.com/examples/textex.htm

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Don Beadle -

reagarding colour experiences/ combinations/ e reading

I attended an interesting seminar at a recent online learning symposium, the presenter, from TRU but his name escapes me, had researched this very thing, and found guess what, for people that have difficulty reading, black and white is the worst colour combination.  I will try to dig up the reference, as I cannot remember which colour combinations were preferable.

As an aside, advertisers have known this for eons.  McDonalds does not have gray arches.

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Eugene Rubin -

I have the new Kobo Vox, but previously had a Barnes and Noble Nook.  The Nook was more or less just an ereader.... it was like reading a paperback and I mostly used it to read epub books from my local library.  The Kobo Vox is really an android 7" tablet (with a lot of the apps that can be loaded on such a device) and has wireless WIFI to access the interent.  It is a little bit bigger than the Nook.  Could be a bit lighter.... but I can read a book on it just fine.  The Nook cost me $139.00 US when I bought it (2 years ago) and it is a lot cheaper now.  The Vox cost me 179.00 on sale here in Canada... which is dirt cheap for a small tablet.  It is not really usable as a mini laptop (no real keyboard) but the internet connectivity is nice.   Whatever reader one has, I think it is critical to be able to size the fonts to the maximum (or minimum) size your are comfortable with.... and the Nook does not allow this (they are preset).  I also have to use the Overdrive reader to read epubs on the vox and that is the same.  To me, this is what makes an ereader comfortable and usable..... to minimize the number of page turns by maximizing the words on a page.

Gene Rubin

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

Hi. Julia Hengstler here--Educational Technologist at Vancouver Is. University's Faculty of Education.

One of my absolute favourite e-pubs is an app book from exploratorium called Color Uncovered. It's free.  If you have an ipad and haven't downloaded it I urge you to do so.Great graphics integration, great layout and design & interactive elements for the audience.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/downloads/coloruncovered/

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

Hi Julia. Welcome aboard!  I haven't seen this book before, but I'll download it this afternoon.  And free -- love it.  I'm intrigued by the interactive elements with the audience.  Do you think it is turning the book form into more of a conversation?

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

I think that the ColorUncovered is like having a dog. Anyone can have one--but can yours guard the house, fetch a ball, bring you the paper? I think that ColorUncovered is like a trained stunt dog compared to what I've read or seen in iBooks, my Kindle, Stanza, etc.

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

Thanks for the link to the Exploratorium and the downloadable book.

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by LaDonna Coy -

Wow Julia - the Color Uncovered app book is really great - a sense of playful reading and its intriguing the way its laid out. What I think I like best is that I can learn in small bites, a little at a time. .Amazing.

I didn't mention my other favorite book since I wasn't sure it qualified as an ebook but it is similar to this one in that it is an app-book.  Amanda Havard has an intriguing app-book with some technology that is new (and she's patented).  The title is The Survivors and is a transformation of the original book into this app-book form. I met her dad in the Chicago airpoirt and he gave me a sneak peak on his ipad back in October - I knew I'd be buying it once it was released - I just had to see the technology in action. It isn't really my genre but the development is brilliant.

She's added watermark touch points. As you read the story you'll see a light watermark on the screen, when you touch it opens a small window with additional content, like a photo of the location; a song the character is listening to; the clothes she's wearing; author notes about the character; etc. If I remember right there's more than 300 touch points.  Her Dad told me that each of the book's characters would be tweeting but I haven't checked that out yet. :-)  She is stretching into several forms of custom developed multimedia and then embedding them in this new way - very interesting and adds to the reading experience. I've attached a screen shot from my iphone by way of example. (I couldn't figure out how to upload more than one?)

Attachment Watermark.PNG
In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Scott Leslie -

I definitely hope people don't self-censor offering their favourite eBooks simply because they are not conventional "books" - I think that's the exciting part of what we are seeing, the innovation in the form itself, not just a shift of text from print to electronic.

It is also, though, the place where things start to get all messy too - think about the web and how Flash and Java were the early answers to incorporating richness, and only much later did full open standards and web-native capabilities come along. We're seeing similar happen here to in the ruch to richness. Interesting times indeed!

In reply to Scott Leslie

innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Sylvia Riessner -

I've been following the conversation with interest. I'm a foot-dragger when it comes to switching to reading on my mobile device. I'll do it when I travel but when I have a choice, I still prefer to read for enjoyment with a physical book. I load all my work-related reading in PDFs into GoodReader on the iPad. That lets me read them easily and annotate them and save out or share chunks of them as I wish. Very handy

What interests me most about ebooks is when they start to transition/morph into something else that is much more useful, interactive, engaging. My grandaughter loves some of the immersive reading experiences you can get on the iPad. Some of them are fun for me too. The travel books are more interesting to me. Haven't had time to go much beyond that yet.

I followed some of the web-based conversations about e-books when the 2011 Horizon Report targeted them as a technology that would impact education within one year

Modern ereaders support note-taking and research activities, and are beginning to augment these functions with new capabilities -- from immersive experiences to support for social interaction -- that are changing our perception of what it means to read. (Horizon wiki )

A really thought-provoking video by IDEO (I didn't make up their name) - shows some of the ways technology and connectivity could enrich and change our reading experiences.

I'm not sure how I feel about the much-publicized possibilities of e-texts as being more affordable for students. I don't believe that publishers are likely to give up the healthy profits they earn in this sector; if it wasn't going to make them even more money I doubt they'd be so proactive. However, I know that our nursing students love having their textbook on the iPads because they can look up information in clinical without having to lug around a heavy book.

I've also been meaning to explore some of the supposed interactive elements of e-texts (take a look at Inklings site or check out their Raven Biology text. ) These books supposedly encourage exploration and interaction; whether they actually achieve those possibilities I have yet to hear from any teacher.

Have any of you tried anything like this - interactive texts?

 

 

 

In reply to Sylvia Riessner

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Richard Schwier -

The engagement and interaction pieces are important.  Like you, I love how some of the children's books I've seen are so playful and immersive. It would be great to see some adult examples that reach for the same level of interaction and even playful tone.  Know of any?

Of course, I have also had some deeply immersive experiences with traditional books--most of us have, and can name those books that changed us somehow. it is almost a cliché that a great book starts with a great story, and then it is shaped by skillful writing and storytelling. 

In reply to Richard Schwier

But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Valerie Taylor -

As much as I love eBooks (Kindle, iPad, iPhone, laptop), I have to wonder how these will hold up to the test of time. We visited a wonderful library in Switzerland and viewed books written in the 800's.

Having worked in IT for many years, I have seen data lost forever because technologies changed or destroyed the media rendering this information useless or unreadable - paper tape, magnetic tape in all formats, floppy discs... Just thinking.

In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Richard Schwier -
Thanks, Valerie, I think this is an important and difficult issue. Format migration has plagued all of us over time (want to see my 1/2 Sony beta cassette collection?). I hope, but don't always trust, that reformatting options will be available as we move from format to format. And this is also related to publication standards, the very kind of thing Apple seems to be trying to deal with in publications offered through their store. I'm really glad you brought up this issue, and I wonder if it shouldn't be a topic for a discussion thread all of its own. This also raises another interesting question about what we mean by "book" again. One of the characteristics of traditional books is permanence. We gather them, store them, and in many cases display them almost as trophies in office spaces. I wonder if e-publications will receive the same level of reverence and attention to permanence? Is an e-pub, by its very nature, considered to be less permanent and more effervescent? Do we have different expectations?
In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Julia Hengstler -
I would argue permanence: think fire at library in Alexandria. Only security our books have over that form is that the printing press ensured various copies stored at various locations. I think that the capability of replication & distribution is far greater with digital formats. Julia
In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Julia Hengstler -
I think that those loses occur because the data is not replicated & dispersed. How much effort & cost does it take to duplicate data? It's marginal. A few years back I had a catastrophic computer failure--lost the final version of my Thesis per-UMI submission. Thankfully, I shared copies with several friends & colleagues--a few fired a copy back to me. Imagine the value in a important book or manuscript where only 1 copy exists? Julia
In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Edward Mokurai Cherlin -

Data loss comes in many forms. We have the sacking of the Library at Alexandria by Christians and later by invading Muslims, and of many other important libraries, including Baghdad in Iraq, in Buddhist monasteries in India, in various dynastic capitals of China, in the various kingdoms of Spain as a result of local wars, changes in prevailing religion, barbarian incursion, and other causes. We have the reuse of ancient manuscripts by Christian monks by erasing the ink and writing over the older work (but many of these palimpsests have been recovered through modern technology). There is the decay of paper and many other writing materials over the centuries.

We know that our present digital media are not good for a thousand years. If we want materials to survive, at some point we have to put multiple copies onto durable media in safe locations. The Long Now project has started to address these issues in terms of 10,000-year survivability and variety of languages and writing systems, but has not even begun to address the quantity of data we are generating, and how much of it we are already losing.

In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: But will they be readable in 1000 years?

by Julia Hengstler -
I think that those loses occur because the data is not replicated & dispersed. How much effort & cost does it take to duplicate data? It's marginal. A few years back I had a catastrophic computer failure--lost the final version of my Thesis per-UMI submission. Thankfully, I shared copies with several friends & colleagues--a few fired a copy back to me. Imagine the value in a important book or manuscript where only 1 copy exists? Julia
In reply to Sylvia Riessner

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by LaDonna Coy -

These are amazing resources, I'm still taking it all in but wanted to say thank you for sharing these. I am remembering my own school experience and wonder how my learning experience would have been different with books like these?  I'm a visual learner so these really appeal to me. 

In reply to Sylvia Riessner

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Edward Mokurai Cherlin -

For interactive immersion, Raymond Smullyan's logic puzzle books, such as The Lady or the Tiger and To Mock a Mockingbird, come to mind, along with Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach. Polya's How to Solve It tries, but I think does not really succeed.

Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, eBay, and indeed the entire Web have succeeded precisely because of their aspect of interactive immersion.

At the school level, have you seen my e-pub, Discovering Discovery? It is far from finished, but I think it shows what we could do if we take interactive immersion seriously, and do not suppose that children can only learn what teachers teach.

http://booki.treehouse.su/discovering-discovery/

This version assumes that you have an XO-1, but most of it would work with Sugar on any computer, and it could be adapted to a variety of other education software. My approach depends on analyzing the software to see what children can discover for themselves, what hints would make most of the rest discoverable, and what we simply have to tell children. For example, there is no way to discover the arbitrary commands and syntax used in most programming languages, but almost all of Turtle Art programming is discoverable

I mean to expand Discovering Discovery considerably after I finish the set of computer math books I am working on (Arithmetic, Algebra, and Calculus) where every math statement can be pasted into a software session and executed, or can be dissected and analyzed with the help of software that can execute any of the pieces.

Ken Iverson, Seymour Papert, and others tried to create interactive teaching materials under some rather severe technological constraints. and I am trying to expand on what they did now that we do not have those constraints. The Turtle Art tutorials at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/TurtleArt/Tutorials by Tony Forster and me are another approach.

Outside the realm of books, I would cite the Montessori learning materials and Cuisenaire rods. Both require guidance, but at their best the guidance is merely hints leading to total immersion in deep discoveries that the children make themselves. The way little children learn language, physics, society, and so on naturally.

For those who can stand it, the language games in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake are of interest, but that is very much more than most people would want to commit to, even aided by all of the literature explaining what Joyce was up to, sometimes word by word, including http://www.finneganswiki.com. Joyce commented that if you can find a meaning in the Wake, whether he put it there or not, you are correct. He meant to incorporate all of human literature and experience into the Wake (at least by reference), in somewhat the same way that some of John Cage's compositions invite you to listen to every sound in your environment with the musical ear, not just let them pass by, or worse, actively filter them out. There are also a number of religious practices that invite you to take everything that enters into your consciousness as the subject of your meditation/contemplation/koan.

In reply to Edward Mokurai Cherlin

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Richard Schwier -

Thank you for these wonderful suggestions and observations, Edward!  I haven't yet explored Discovering Discovery, but I plan to dive in soon.  Your expansion of what we can include in immersion and interaction is very valuable.  Indeed, Montessori materials and Cuisenaire rods are indeed powerful technologies. I remember suffering through some James Joyce when I was an English major many years ago.  Maybe I'm in a better place now to tackle Finnegans Wake, and should give it a second chance.

You offer an important lesson that we should pay close attention to things in our environment, and not filter them out, but rather find ways to sue them to create meaning. And we should develop learning resources that invite learners to do the same thing.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Susanne Nyrop -

Edward, these are very inspiring thoughts. I'd like to share my personal experience with a grandson, age nine, who was desperately trying to avoid learning how to read! As we only meet once in a while, this happened to be the very first time I was going to have all three of my grandchildren for an overnight in our house, and I was thrilled. First of all, I cleared up the big room downstairs where I kept many of my less actual but still very important bookshelves, my laundry and ironing, and a lot of leftover furniture, all in all, a mess! Then I started to fill the room with whatever I could imagine the kids would like.  Apart from the very sparse toy collection, these were my own things. On the top of the table there was soon heaps of assorted stationery, in a total disorder. Then I realized this would just bring confusion and stride. So instead I made a special place for each of them, with place mats,  two relevant books well chosen for each of their actual interest, two sharpened pencils, a rubber and blank notebook, and a magnifying glass. All of the rest, I stored on shelves in boxes and tins, away from their reach. The noisy book shelves were hidden behind large sheets on the laundry string, like a theater, This way, the unfamilar room was made smaller and the distraction factors left out! I had to do some organisation and mindful preparation to set the stage.

One major reason is my mentally fragile husband who had resisted for a very long period to let the children into our life. No uncontrolled noise would be acceptable!

Another must in  these considerations is the children's overall learning disbilities, the older, a boy age 9, was in a special class for children with asperger; the twin girls age 7 also had their share of attention difficulties. Plus the usual power game among (half) siblings. Who meet only every second weekend.

Best of all this was the small brass bell that is a heritage from my grandmother's home, for the maid. Whenever they needed a break, I rang the bell!

Ok, so now you have the stringent setting - a perfect old fashioned home-schooling classroom for the weekend. And then, they loved it! Back to the boy whose ambitions on how to learn to read ere frustrated to despair! He was desperately shouting, kicking and crying with rage, because he was unable to read anything! And never would learn, it was all too complicated! The litlle ones were listening with awe. If their beloved role model could not learn this, how would they? Then, the magnifyers came in handy! Reading out alphabet and make it onto words you can understand is like a code you need to break, I said. I have in my possesion a clay tablet from the ancient Crete, the Phaistos disk, with a very intriguing message that has never been decoded! (Well - mine is just a copy :-). I showed him this, and told him about the Rosetta Stone where three different languages were found and dechiphered. Now he was really interested! Do you think I could break the code? Aha! he spent hours on this project with the clay tablet, we found some more about this ia books with photos, and the whole weekend it was all about code breaking in many ways, including how to open a safe with asecret code (as in the fabulous Olsen gang movies that are very popular here in Denmark).

Chalk and old blackboard was also part of this plot, as well as some very old ABC books that might tell them how many ways there are to learn the ropes.  Well - three months later I saw my grandson again. He said, with a natural nonchalance I will never forget: I started to read Harry Potter, and now I am halfway into the book!

These kids are digital naturals, in a manner. Actually, they were already spending hours and days playing WOW with their daddy online!!!  So why is it that the paper based book as such had become an intimidating obstacle?

 

 

 

 

In reply to Susanne Nyrop

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Richard Schwier -

What an inspiring post, Susanne!  We so often face the same kinds of challenges, although in varying degrees, and your story reminds me that we have to be thoughtful, patient, and focused on the learner's needs to find solutions that may be right in front of us.  I love how you created a cozy space for learning, as distraction free as you could make it, and then threw in the considerable challenge of making reading a puzzle to be solved.  I'm so pleased to hear your grandchild is becoming a voracious reader and that you found the trigger that he needed to learn how to read in the first place.

In reply to Susanne Nyrop

Re: innovation in e-books (epubs)

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

I initially got into technology because I worked with a lot of students and my own children who had learning issues. Many of my students gave a tremendous sigh of relieve when first allowed to compose documents on a computer (spell checker, lack of fatique from handwriting for people who had dysgraphia, ease of reading computer text, coloured text is easier for some dyslexics to read).

My daughter is severely learning disabled and her first computer allowed her to write stories and screen plays that astounded her classmates and teachers who had viewed her up to that point as stupid. Today she is a film maker who reads voraciously but still prefers to do it online. Her 2 year old daughter recently was given her own iPad because her parents were tired of sharing their's with her. She moves freely between her iPad books and her paper books.

So based on my unscientific observations, e-books may make reading more accessible to those who find reading difficult.

In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

You reminded me of my favourite children's E-book Harold and the Purple Crayon which gives toddlers several options for reading/drawing. My 2 year old grandaughter reaches for my iPad on long car trips and happily "reads" for about 1/2 hour before dropping off to sleep.

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Barbara Schindelka -

Oh, Diedre, that book (the paper version) was my absolute favourite when I was little. You just made my day be reminding me of it. I had no idea there was an e-book version. I am going to draw myself a fleet of classic muscle cars in my garage and a lakefront cabin at the lake.

In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

Very cool. Thanks for that. I think that text--as we know it in a book-like form--is evolving. What it will look like in 20 years? Who knows?

In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Don Beadle -

I wonder if scholars had this discussion 1000 years ago.

Or even earlier, when paryrus was taking over from cuneform clay tablets

In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Sylvia Currie -

LaDonna Coy wrote,

I've attached a screen shot from my iphone by way of example. (I couldn't figure out how to upload more than one?)

 Oops! Just realized the default forum setting is to add 1 attachment. I changed it to 5. Still figuring out Moodle 2 (like, for example, what happened to the emoticons! I could use one about now!)

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by LaDonna Coy -

Thank you Sylvia.  I thought maybe I was missing something.  I too keep wishing there were a "like" button or a thumbs up :-) LOL

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by LaDonna Coy -

Hi everyone.  So happy to meet this group and thank you Sylvia, once again you rock my world :-) This is the kind of course I've been looking for - a topic I want to learn and a great place to learn and contribute.

I read mostly from my Kindle and the book I've most enjoyed is Thomas Crum's, Three Deep Breaths. He tells a story to teach the concepts of breath and stress relief and since I've actually seen him present (online) I could hear his voice in my head teaching me and helping me practice the breaths.  A great read and wonderful practical application. I do wonder if part of what made it such a good experience, compared to other books, is the easy conversational writing style of the author? It just flowed.

The other thing I like is the Whispersynch for Kindle to iPhone so when I travel I don't really need to take the Kindle, I can read on my phone and when I turn the Kindle on the next time it lets me move to the furtherest point I've read on the other device. I've grown accustomed to the small screen and really don't mind it so much since I can set the type size and its back lit so I can read without having to have an extra light source.

In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

How cool is that?  I had no idea about the Whispersynch feature between the Kindle and the iPhone. You just changed my life.  Cheers, LaDonna!

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Alice Macpherson -

I am another one that reads electronic texts all the time, but on a laptop. I must confess that I do not see the attraction to an e-reader. (sorry)

Have been reading all manner of books and really love Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In reply to Alice Macpherson

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Julia Hengstler -

I started with my laptop, but moved to my iPhone--screen was too small--then on to iPad when I just wanted to hang out in bed, on ferry, etc. reading. Much smaller--fits in my purse--much lighter & even self-illuminating in a car at night when my husband is driving.

Have to say, though, the nights in the car, I have to lower the illumination as it can be distracting for the driver.

I also really like the haptic interface of touch & swipe while reading. My HP Touchsmart 2 had that, but much bigger/heavier.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Clint Lalonde -

I'm a Kindle guy and very happy with it. Like you, Richard, I like the idea of one device - one purpose. It's distraction free reading, which I didn't realize had gone missing from my life until I got my Kindle last year. 

There is a lot I like about the Kindle. The form factor works nicely for me - light and I can read with one hand. Less bulky than a paperback. I can read outside in the bright sunshine - something I can't do on an LCD screen very well. Resizeable fonts for aging eyes :).

But the way the Kindle has transformed my reading is that it gives me a place for reading long form articles I find on the web. I use a web service called Klip.Me in conjunction with Google Reader. I have a special folder in Google Reader called Kindle. In this folder I place the RSS subscriptions to sites that I subscribe to that publish longer form articles. Anything in that folder in my GReader gets pushed to my Kindle once a day - no ads, nicely formatted, ready to read, usually when I am in bed. And when I read with the Kindle, I read. I don't skim.

Finally, the price. At around $100, I take my Kindle with me everywhere and never think twice - to the beach, to the playground with my kids. I read in the bathtub. If I lose it or it gets broken, I am out $100. A loss, but not a huge lose. With a tablet at 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) times the price (and with 10 times the private info on it as my Kindle), I am much more selective about where I bring those devices. 

Looking forward to this session!

Clint

In reply to Clint Lalonde

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Scott Leslie -

Clint, good points, making me re-consider readers, well a little bit at least ;-) The integration with RSS and web clipping services definitely seems like a plus for the Kindle and something the Sony Reader I use doesn't do at all (I use the hack of printing long pages to PDF but and reading them on the reader, but that is extremely kludgey.)

Cheers, Scott

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Jaymie Koroluk -

I'm an iPad user, and am slowly getting to the point where I do most of my reading on that device (except for comic books - this could be a whole other topic of discussion). I think the best example of an e-book would be on that got quite a bit of hype a little while ago - the Alice in Wonderland e-book published by Atomic Antelope. They created it as an example of the potential e-books have, if they've been created and tailored to the medium:

EDIT: looks lik the video embed didn't work :-( Here's the YouTube link: 

What this brings up for me though, is the bigger question about what a book is. I could see some people arguing that this isn't a book, simply because it's not what they're used to.

Having said that, some of the WORST e-book experiences I've had come from situations where publishers think they can copy-and-paste material from "traditional" books straight into e-book format without considering the medium. Formatting gets lost, punctuation doesn't work properly, pagination is crap... drives me nuts. It reminds me of people who try to take f2f courses and learning experiences and dump them into online formats and expect them to work. New environments/platforms call for new thinking, and this applies to books too. So maybe I need to start at the beginning, and ask what an e-book is, and how that's different than paper books? If anyone can point me to some good writing and discussion on this, I would appreciate it.

In reply to Jaymie Koroluk

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

Great stuff, Jaymie.  Thanks for pointing to "Alice".  Yeh, the good 'ol cut and paste doesn't begin to cut it with this new medium, does it.  As for what is an e-book and how is it different from a paper book, I think that's going to be a good part of what we discuss here!  It sounds like we're reaching a general agreement that there's something different going on with e-pubs generally, and probably e-books specifically.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Deb Carter -

Hi,

When eReaders first came out, a friend introduced me to Mirasol Technology -- and I decided I would wait for what I would consider my 'first' ebook experience until this technology -- or something similar- came to Canada. 

As I wait, I regularly visit The Digital Reader and Good E-Book Readers -- amazed at the choices available. So many choices, in fact, O'Reilly's Annual Tools of Change for Publishing Conference is offering a Petting Zoo to "get up close and personal with the latest and greatest reading devices and platforms".

As I wait, I use many of the tools mentioned in other posts with my PC desktop and Mac laptops. And with all the options, I can keep myself very busy.

And now I have been presented with this opportunity to collaborate on authoring and publishing -- what fun!

Looking forward to our time together -- a memory trove to keep for my first eBook download - whenever that opportunity comes. What fun!

Deb

 

In reply to Deb Carter

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Terrie McAloney -

Our local library loans Kobos to use and download books from the library... just like you take a book out of the library you can now sign-out the Kobo and e-books.

T

In reply to Terrie McAloney

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Deb Carter -

Hi, Terrie:

What a great choice of eReader - Kobo eReaders were chosen as #1 Editor's Pick by Wired Magazine 2012.

Always great when I am able to borrow technology before I decide if it is something I want to add to my collection. One step better than the 'Petting Zoo' idea -- I have the option of taking the eReader home and trying it out.

Our library is always looking for ways to include technology into their lending options as well.

D

In reply to Deb Carter

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Terrie McAloney -

This was at the Smithers Public Library  -- so not sure if all of BC is doing this... but it is truly a great way for the public try out e-readers and also increase the downloads on the e-books at the public libraries... 

T

In reply to Terrie McAloney

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Richard Schwier -

I love the idea of e-reader loaners. For me, this is another example of how we are really lucky in Canada and some other countries to have the kind of access to public libraries we do. I'm a pretty heavy user of public libraries wherever I go, and it came as a big shock to me when I was living in New Zealand that I had to pay to borrow resources.  It was still a good deal, but it did remind me that public support of libraries isn't universal.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Reading experiences with e-pubs

by Sylvia Currie -

I can relate to so many things that have already been said about experiences with e-pubs. I read all the time -- on the desktop, on the laptop, on the ipad, and I also continue to buy print books.

I sort of feel like I need to make a decision to STOP buying print books because my house is getting full. But as I look around I realize that there are some books that I would never want to give up. Most of these are reference books, and I can often remember where I read something just by the placement on the bookshelf and the cover. The author and title might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Cookbooks are a good example. But I've often joked that it would be nice to have a CNTRL-F function in my house, because my visual memory is not always reliable!

On my iPad I use Kobo, Kindle, IBooks, GoodReader, Instapaper, and various magazine apps. I still don't have that CNTRL-F function. Is anybody else experiencing this problem -- not able to find something you want to return to in an e-pub? It seems that would be solved by now.

That issue aside, I absolutely love reading on my iPad, and while I don't necessarily read more, I do read at different times and locations than I did before. I like that I can put my feet up while reading the PDF that was just sent to me by email. And, like Clint, I read more in bed. I think one reason is the backlight, and a design flaw in my bedroom; I have to get out of bed to turn off the reading light. Now I can just touch the iPad off button and roll over. :-)