I must confess, I dragged my feet on getting an eReader. I even bought eBooks and read them on my desktop for a good year before hesitantly hinting that I’d welcome an eReader as a gift. Ownership of said eReader transformed my opinions on these wonderful little devices completely. I really do love my eReader (though I hope one day they require less charging), but lately I have noticed something that eReaders don’t do quite as well as print books.
I was reading a new-adult novel told using several different first person point-of-views. As is custom, the author kindly provided the name of the point-of-view character at the top of each scene. I didn’t know anything about the book structure before starting the book and it took me a while to figure things out. Admittedly, I don’t generally read books using these techniques, but I was surprised to have the trouble.
This particular book (which I enjoyed enormously despite these problems) also included a phrase at the top of each chapter. Not all that unusual. The phrase was nicely set off in italics. However, this book also featured a character whose dialog was italicized. In this case it represented someone using sign language, but I see this a lot to indicate telepathy so it shouldn’t have thrown me.
All these things together formed a perfect storm of sorts. One that I don’t think would have even his the radar if the book had been in print.
A printed page allows for white-space and page layout to help the reader quickly identify such things. The phrase at the beginning of the chapter would have been centered and indented. The point-of-view labels could have been set-off better with a bit of white-space.
Does this make me want to give up my eReader? No. But I do hope that publishers and eReader manufactures are aware of these issues and are working on ways to improve them. Or is it up to authors to come up with some innovative new way to give readers clues? Or will the technology outpace the problem…haloBooks, neural implants, virtual reality?!
What do you think? Ever had this problem? Or do I just need to break down and get reading glasses? 😉