Embracing the digital book | via Craig Mod
Another excellent, insightful piece by Craig Mod on the current state of e-book readers and what they should aspire to be.
Physical books and e-books are both text at their cores. Book designers long ago established rigorous rules for laying out text blocks so they disappear to the reader. They took pride in turning the physicality of a book into a tool for efficiently and elegantly getting information into the mind of the reader. As any good typographer knows: the best typography goes unnoticed.
Our e-readers seem to have forgotten this heritage. They’ve forgotten that their core purpose is simply to present text as comfortably as possible; to gently pull the reader into the story. Every other aspect of experiencing a book is predicated on this notion.
I don’t have my own iPad yet, but I do have a demo unit that I’m using for a review and there are many things that I love about it and more I’m finding everyday. Reading is definitely different, and I think better, on the iPad than it is on either my iPhone or my Macbook Pro. I’m particularly in love with Instapaper Pro, although I’ve probably saved more items for “reading later” than is possible for me to read in the next few decades. While iBooks is interesting, I’m not finding any of the books that I’m interested in reading at present and I, like Mod, can do without the page turning animations and the book-like look of the interface. I’d also like the option to use white text on a black background so I can read in bed without waking my wife or feeling like I’m using an emergency locater beacon. The Kindle app, at present, offers far more, both in terms of what’s available book-wise and display options, than does iBooks.
The one app that I’m supremely impressed with is Outside Magazine’s iPad Edition, which seems to me to have spanned the gap between print and digital editions in a pretty stellar fashion. The quality of the text mirrors that of the magazine and, while I think that as they continue to work on the layout it will only get better, I feel that in its present state it’s already a pretty darn good replacement for the print edition and one that I’d gladly subscribe to in a digital format. It also appears that Outside has designed this version to work in the way that I hoped iPad-based magazines would work, a single application with which you’re able to easily access older issues of the magazine and your latest issue without having to download a separate application every time a new issue is release. I’ll also add that the quality of the photography in the iPad edition is stunning. There’s a depth to it that you just can’t get in a print magazine and it’s truly beautiful to look at.