I’ve been a massive fan of the online publishing model for writers and have indeed made my living doing this since 2004. Between websites, ebooks and some other projects, I’ve kept the wolf away from the door and indeed, managed to build a better door.
But my sense of the online reading experience has been shifting in the last few years and over the last two months, it has landed, “Plunk” into a totally unexpected (for me) kind of pattern.
I really like reading modern fiction – the easy to read action or sci-fi stories that can be best described as “dock books” on my ipad or ereader. I still see the odd print one roll through the house -mostly presents – but anything like that I buy, it’s now electronic.
Deeper fiction or more involved thinking works (anything by Joyce for example ) are now best served up in paper. Good non-fiction falls into that category as well – I’m currently reading Al Gore’s “Future” and it works well in paper given the copious notes in the index.
Informational reading – and let’s use garden writing as an example – falls into both camps. Anything I want to know “how-to-do” is an electronic task. Look up, read, watch, browse, flip, and the skill or info is readily available. Subjects normally covered in magazines belong online in my new world as the information is normally easily digested. (Whether magazines should try to be more like online content with the short info is a subject for another time)
More complex subjects deserve print and paper.
This was brought firmly into my worldview when I tried reading a Timber Press book on my iPad (I’m a huge fan of their high-end line and not so much one of the newer consumer direction) that is laid out with multiple pictures on each page, It was the absolutely worst reading experience in my life.
Each image had to be expanded and contracted individually, the easy flipping through pages wasn’t easily done simply because of the layout – resembling a print book. I was supposed to be reviewing the book and found the chore of getting through the content to be one step too far and I never did finish reading it (much to my regret because I wanted to read that book)
The bottom line here is that I now believe each “book” and the distribution system for it will have to be determined by the contents of that book.
Having said that, I will hedge my bets about what the generation being raised on ebooks is going to think or do.