Papering over the cracks

May 15, 2007


With new technology comes the need to rethink certain conventions. The above is clipped from a Macmillan ebook (link), and while I don’t wish to do anyone in particular down, and the technology is young, I think it speaks to a disparity in the understanding of ebooks: they are not simply paper books, scanned page by page and uploaded – or at least, they have the potential to be so much more.

Does anyone know, for instance, if there has been any research done into the difference in reading quality between pages and scrolls – that is, documents which fit the window, and are updated in blocks, and long documents which you scroll down to read? The page-turning problem was Andrew Marr’s greatest quibble in his article in the Guardian last week, and it strikes me as a ridiculous hangover from paper books. Why this need to turn a page of an electronic document?

That said, I know the difficulty of reading scrollable documents – I frequently find that I lose my place when it is time to scroll down, whereas a page layout seems to help the brain keep its place, knowing that the physical position of the reading point is not going to change in relation to its frame. But surely, there must be a compromise? Does anyone know any alternate methods (such as RSVP)?

All thoughts gratefully received, as ever.


And later the same day, as if by magic… here’s an example of the kind of thing I was talking about, made possible by ebooks: Live Ink (VentureBeat article) (Via).


  1. It sure seems crackers.

    This reminds me of something that is just outisde my memory. When I remember I will comment again.

    I hate when that happens,

    Comment by Eoin Purcell — May 15, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  2. Thanks for that Eoin :)

    Comment by James Bridle — May 16, 2007 @ 12:17 am

Comments are closed. Feel free to email if you have something to say, or leave a trackback from your own site.