eBook: e for experience?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Amazon Kindle raised awareness of e-ink and electronic books. Now there are a plethora of ebooks from the likes of Sony and Elonex and there is starting to be a mainstream corresponding marketplace in content.

I started reading e-books about eight years ago when I discovered MobiReader software for  and Blackmask e-books (since taken over by Munseys) and the joy of reading classic pulp fiction on the tube. The LCD screen was fine for reading books during a reasonably short commute into London from Luton.

Electronic ink paper provides an incrementally improvement over the LCD screen of a phone, but doesn’t have the convenience and size of a smartphone. The e-book is being targeted with college students. When I studied I used to spread relevant pages of text books around so I could cross consult with different books at the same time. This gets really expensive with an e-book reader like the Kindle and the secondhand book market largely puts a bullet in the e-textbook marketplace.

I was curious to see what an e-book experience would be like for comics. Comics are amazingly geeky like vinyl record collectors, they require an in-depth technical know how and very, very analogue. The enjoyment of comics like records is the scarcity, elitism by certain measures. How would e-comics measure up in comparison.

Terminator iPhone screenshot

To get a feel of what e-comics are like I downloaded the Terminator comic series from the Apple AppStore through iTunes. The screen was ideal for displaying an individual comic cell, but it loses the relationships between cells on a page. If you look at a typical comic page with the design of the cells relationship to each other and dialogue boxes which would span multiple cells.

E-comics can still tell a cracking yarn, but they lose much of the impact of the paper page. The e in e-book isn’t for experience but expediency is likely to be closer to the mark.