The biggest growth at this year’s show comes, not surprisingly, in the Digital Market Place in Hall 4.2, which has grown by a third. Boos claims that at the Fair, “about 42 percent of exhibited products are books, while 30 percent are digital.”
This quote, from Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos, kicked to the front of my brain a thought I’ve been pondering for a few days now, since I put down the Kindle and picked up a paperback. It doesn’t surprise me that the Digital Market Place has increased by a third, because, and this was a surprise, there are a few elements to ebook reading that are a step above paperback reading for me.
I carry the Kindle everywhere. I love how it fits in my bag, I love that it’s lightweight, I love that I have eleventy-twelve-billion books on there, and that with two seconds and a location that’s not underground, I can get more. I love that wireless connection, and the feeling that I’ll never be caught without reading material again. This makes me sound like a melodramatic nutball, but it’s true. The absence of reading material makes me twitchy at the least and full on psychotic at the most.
But I’ve noticed, particularly when I grabbed a paperback and tossed it in the car one afternoon this week when I realized I’d been a slacker about letting the Kindle charge every now and again (BAD SARAH BAD) that the way in which I read paper is noticeably different from the way I read the Kindle.
When I read a digital screen, be it a monitor, a laptop screen, or the Kindle, I read very, very quickly. While the Kindle is very different from the eyestraining LCD screens, I still read the digital words much faster than words on paper. Of the three, the Kindle is far and away the easiest on my eyes – and I’m crosseyed so focusing my eyes is all kind of wonky.
But when reading a paper book, I have to go much more slowly – and I was thinking that the reason I have to slow down and focus much more intently, sometimes even using my finger or a bookmark to mark my place and move it along the page, is because of the weaker contrast between the cream/beige paper in a mass market paperback and the black ink on that page. The Kindle has a much greater constast, which I believe is also adjustable, as is the text size, and for that reason it is far and away easier on my eyes to read, as the words themselves are in focus and larger and clearer.
That increased contrast makes a huge difference to me. When reading the Kindle, even at a reduced text size, I don’t make the mistake of jumping down a line in the middle of a sentence and coming up with descriptions that make no sense. (He placed her shoulders on the table!? What?!) I do that all the time with paperbacks. While I do sometimes think I’m reading too fast on the Kindle at times – usually at times when the text at hand has failed to grab me and I’m scanning and not reading – I am able to read without raising my eyes from the device for much longer periods of time vs. a mass market paperback, where I have to focus on something far away from my lenses every now and again.
So it’s not just the moar-moar-moar that makes me an eager Kindle-ade drinker. It’s the increased comfort and facility with which I can read books, and really, I didn’t expect the ebook reader revolution to change the way and the comfort of my reading as much as it did. And while, no, I won’t give up paper books because not every book that I want is available on the Kindle, I do eagerly look for solutions that allow me to convert and send books to the Kindle, especially from file types that aren’t Mac-friendly (which is why Stanza is rocking my tights. Thanks Teddy Pig!).
I know many, many people have yet to take the ebook plunge, and I didn’t think I’d be such a squeeing fangirl so quickly. But when it comes to the physical limitations of my vision coming up against my desire to keep reading as long as possible, my eyes have it bad for the Kindle.