Monday, March 28, 2011

Aidan's Pensieve: Change II

I claimed in the previous blog entry that I dealt well with change (yes, time has escaped from me and when I wrote that blog entry; I'd already had this one planned as my follow-up), but I discovered that some things annoy me when they change.

I discovered my resistance to change when Amazon upgraded the Kindle recently and one of the hyped features included in the release was the addition of true page numbers instead of locations. I know when I first bought my Kindle I was uncomfortable with locations because I didn't know how they translated into time read. I like to look to see how many pages -- or locations -- I have until the next chapter to decide whether I'll read to the next chapter or stop for the night. However, within a couple of books, I had a reasonably accurate feeling of locations and I even had a rough idea of how many words fit in a location as well. I figured the addition of a page number feature to the Kindle couldn't hurt. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

I'm one of those annoying morning people who get up early and can have thousands of words written before other people wake up. Unfortunately, a morning person because once I wake up I don't fall back to sleep. One day I woke up around three in the morning and couldn't sleep so I went to another room and started reading my Kindle. However, I discovered that my locations no longer showed up on the display. My Kindle had changed. I realize that I can see what the locations are by pressing the menu key, but I felt like I should have at least been asked if I would accept the upgrade. Of course, I would've accepted the upgrade but at least then I could be upset at myself for accepting the upgrade and not upset at Amazon for upgrading my device without even asking me. Worse, I felt like they took away a feature since I no longer saw my locations and bizarrely, the change resulted in an empty spot on the bottom of my Kindle.

Of course, change got me thinking about some other things as well. Publishers claim that part of their value proposition is preparing electronic books. However, I already format my stories as electronic books (Kindle only at the moment, but it wouldn't be too difficult for me to support ePub as well) for my first readers. Therefore, I don't see this as a complex task.

One difference I've noticed between what I do and published books, is that occasionally I'll get a book that has a special font. I know an important decision in a physical book is the font. Yet, the electronic books I've read with special fonts (Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games, and Mingmei Yip's Peach Blossom Pavilion) have been annoying because they're not the same size as the fonts in other books and I must continuously fiddle with font sizes as I switch between books.

My office mate, a huge electronic book fan, appreciates these special fonts. He had an example of one book where the publisher had created inks spots and other special aspects to the fonts to enhance the experience. I began to wonder whether my discomfort with change was coloring my preferences. What are your thoughts about the fonts in books, electronic or not?


  1. I think I need to turn into "one of those annoying morning people" too to make sure I get writing done. :) I think early mornings when hardly anyone else is awake is a great time for inspiration. It's so quiet and calm, easier to focus and listen to your thoughts.

    I haven't read many electronic books but I think I agree with your office mate that special fonts enhance the experience. Often they are indicative of an aspect of the narrator's personality or help set the atmosphere of the story. Perhaps if I read electronic books I'd find it annoying, but I enjoy special fonts in paperbacks. :)

  2. @Zaiure, everyone is different. I blame my metabolism (not as fast as it used to be but still high) of waking me up initially because if I didn't get food into myself I'd starve ;) However, it means I got used to waking up early and getting things done. My brain likes to turn off in the evening... or rather wants to be entertained, since I would claim reading isn't necessarily turned off. I'm very likely in the minority on the fonts. We'll see.

  3. I'm a font fan, so though I've never read from nor had an e-book, the idea of changing fonts doesn't bother me. At least not in concept. Who knows in execution?