Digital Domain – Texting? No, Just Reading My Textbook on the Phone – NYTimes.com

Digital Domain – Texting? No, Just Reading My Textbook on the Phone – NYTimes.com.

To read a textbook on the iPhone, students may need to do a lot of scrolling left and right.

To read a textbook on the iPhone, students may need to do a lot of scrolling left and right.

This is the post that got lost in the cloud on Sunday. I’ve finally found the time to re-write it.

I think this NY Times article about the difficulties of reading textbooks on tablet computers and smart phones is missing a point.

Textbooks authors, their editors and designers design the books for print. They artfully consider the layout, the diagrams, illustrations and white space for a large (expensive) printed work. The versions available for readers are typically PDF files of the printed work.

There’s an opportunity for authors and publishers to re-design their books for easy reading on a screen. The Kindle does not have colour but you can get around that with careful design as newspapers do. I think an iPhone or its ilk may be too small to read a full textbook, but I am sure designers could improve the experience a lot if they focused on it.

There needs to be a business case for the publishers to invest in this of course. But once one publisher shows how to profit from truly superior electronic versions of their books I expect the field will take off.

Newspaper internet sites don’t make me browse a PDF of the newspaper. The articles and pictures may be the same but they present it differently. I doubt the journalist who writes an article does anything differently knowing that her work will be displayed in the print edition and on the web.

We are just at the start of the move from paper books to electronic and we’ve got a lot of learning to do. But the principles of separation of presentation from content are well understood.

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One Response to “Digital Domain – Texting? No, Just Reading My Textbook on the Phone – NYTimes.com”

  1. Kindle Drawback « Bkkphotographer's Blog Says:

    […] is inexcusable on the publisher’s part. Even a PDF of the book with no consideration for the best format for a mobile device, would be better than what hes […]

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