21st Century Literature discussion

Question of the Week > What Is Your Preferred Format For Reading? (12/16/18)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2713 comments Mod
Let us know what formats you use to read (hard copy, e-books, laptop/tablet/phone, audio, hired assistant who reads to you aloud, etc.). Do you have a preferred method? If you've tried any/all of these, what do you see as their benefits and drawbacks to you personally?

message 2: by David (last edited Dec 16, 2018 08:12PM) (new)

David | 242 comments I mentioned this a while back in another discussion on GR. My ideal method is pretty idiosyncratic. And weird. Very weird. The ideal for me is:

1. The text of the book in a word processor file at 24pt font.
2. As I read, I delete the text from the file so the words I am currently reading get pulled up to the top of the page instead of scrolling down to them.
3. Simultaneously, I listen to the audiobook, but sped up to at least 1.5 times normal speed and more often around 2 times normal speed. This is so it plays at the speed I would read if I just had the text alone.

The size of the font isn't a vision thing. I can read 12pt font just fine. But the larger font size as well as the text + audio together both help keep me maximally focused on what I am reading. The speed of the audio sounds really weird when you're not used to it, but again, it is being used as a guide and I still regard my own reading of the text to be the primary way I access it.

Actual physical books + audio is something I do often as well. I sometimes listen to audiobooks alone without text, but not often. I will usually get some text version to go with it.

message 3: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2713 comments Mod
May I ask how you came to develop this process, David? It seems like something that would take a bit to fine tune as you've done. Also seems like it could be either expensive or just frustrating to get a text and audio version of each book (I understand you don't do this with every book).

message 4: by David (last edited Dec 16, 2018 08:52PM) (new)

David | 242 comments Marc wrote: "May I ask how you came to develop this process, David? It seems like something that would take a bit to fine tune as you've done. Also seems like it could be either expensive or just frustrating to..."

Let's take the last part first (because it's easiest). I don't ever buy audiobooks. Some I get from the library, some through Librivox, and I've even found some on youtube. Most weeks The New Yorker provides an audio recording by the author of their short stories, too. But also, the audio + text is the ideal, not necessarily a method I use for most of my reading.

As for how I came to put this Frankenstein's monster of a method together, it was a process :-)

Years ago I noticed that sometimes people reading papers at academic conferences printed their paper using very large fonts. This primarily helps the reader not to lose their place when looking up and back down and not to misread anything. I can be a distracted reader, so about 20 years ago when I first started reading electronic texts occasionally, I tried the very large font and it helped.

A few years ago, I read about some software that was designed to help people learn to speed read. What it did was have you set a pace for your reading and then the text would appear in the same spot on the screen. The idea was that if the text moved, and not your eyes, you can't lose your place. And if the software controls the speed, you learn to keep up. I tried playing around with the idea, simulating it by deleting text as I read. I was not really interested in reading a lot faster, but just playing around with it. I didn't find it increased my speed at all, but with 24pt font you do have to scroll a lot and I found that deleting just made it easier.

As for the audio + text, this was an idea I came up with a number of years ago when I decided to read every one of Shakespeare's plays, one per week, over the course of a year. His language can be tough at times, so I decided it would help to get the verbal cues of an actor saying the lines - all the intonation and emotion of them - to go along with the reading. It worked great, except the audio was a lot slower than reading, so that's when I decided to try goosing the speed. It started off as just a small boost - 10% faster, then 20%, then 30%. With Shakespeare, I was happy not to accelerate too much, but when I carried it over to more modern writing faster worked better.

I'd say less than a tenth of my reading is done in this ideal form. It is still most common for me to read the old fashioned physical book, but even then I will get a large print edition from the library if they have it. The most recent book I read with all the elements in place was The Martian Chronicles, although more recently the 50 or so pages of Belinda Bauer's Snap I read before I abandoned it were also read this way. I keep not getting around to re-reading Wuthering Heights again, but when I do I already have both the audio and the word processor file of text ready. Maybe soon we will get some deep cold and snow that will inspire me to start it. I hope so.

message 5: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
My answer will be the most boring! I still don't have an e-reader and I prefer print to audio so for me it is paper for everything except short online articles (phone or laptop)...

message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert | 437 comments I'm boring as well. Print, as for format, for thin books I like hardback but for thicker ones, I prefer paperbacks as they are lighter. I really like thick small paperbacks, for some strange reason I find them fun to read.

I also like reading and listening to the audiobook but I haven't done that in a while.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments I have a small tablet that I use sometimes for (fre)e-books I download--a lot of times it's easier to find pre-1900 books in a downloadable format than in the used-book stores I shop. But twice now in the last year I've begun with the tablet, and then found the print version mid-way through and switched. When I did, I found that I responded much better to the print version--with both books I felt as though I was able to grasp the material quicker and with less effort. I don't know if I simply convinced myself of that, or if there really was a difference. I still use the tablet, but it's more of a last resort thing.

I usually listen to three or four audiobooks I year--I make a dozen 8+ hour car trips a year, plus twice as many 2+ trips, and I've found audiobooks to be a godsend.

But for last year, 85% of my reading was done with print books.

message 8: by Neil (last edited Dec 17, 2018 05:33AM) (new)

Neil | 309 comments I have three formats I use:

1. Paper books (about half done this way)
2. A kindle (about half done this way)
3. An iPad (just a few for reasons explained below)

I like paper books for the feel of them, but I don't see them having many advantages over the other formats. I do acknowledge, though, that there is something very pleasurable about sitting down with a paper book. I like Kindle books for the ease of highlighting, searching and sharing. I also like Kindle books because I can take 100 books on holiday with me and decide when I get there which ones I will read (or, if I have Wi-fi on holiday, take NONE with me and decide when I get there which ones I will read). I read a very small number of books on the iPad - this happens when I get a PDF from NetGalley because the "send to Kindle" option on NetGalley is very unreliable and often produces unreadable results, so I prefer to read the original PDF on the iPad.

I've tried a couple of books on audio and I don't like doing it that way. It takes way too long to get to the end of a book and if you speed the voice up it sounds silly (and still takes too long). Just an opinion, of course - other opinions are available.

message 9: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 27 comments Well I have tracked this this year so I can give exact stats.

Hardback 4 8%
Paperback 19 39%
Kindle 18 37%
Audiobook 8 16%

So I'm fairly equal opportunity with my reading.

message 10: by David (new)

David | 242 comments Just to add one advantage of the electronic copy - I'm sure we have all had the experience of reading a book and a character shows up on page 300 having been absent for the last 250 pages and we can't quite remember who this person is. Being about to search for a name or other words to find where previously in the text something was mentioned is very handy. It's also useful when discussing a book after finishing reading it.

message 11: by carissa (new)

carissa I prefer to read Hardcover and Paperback, but use my Nook often.
If a book I want to read via the library system has an e-book available without a wait, I download it.
I don't care about owning books, so that doesn't factor into most of what I buy and read. When I need to own something, I prefer Hardcovers.
I get an equal amount of arcs and drcs, but reading the physical arcs is usually easier.
I don't listen to books. I tried this year, because a GoodReader raved about one of Hardy's audiobooks as being unbelievably good, but the format doesn't work for me. (I'm sure I'd adapt if audio was all that was left to me though...)

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments David wrote: "Just to add one advantage of the electronic copy - I'm sure we have all had the experience of reading a book and a character shows up on page 300 having been absent for the last 250 pages and we ca..."

I agree completely. Having a searchable text can be enormously helpful

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 456 comments Bryan wrote: "David wrote: "Just to add one advantage of the electronic copy - I'm sure we have all had the experience of reading a book and a character shows up on page 300 having been absent for the last 250 p..."

I stopped reading electronic ARC's because often the search function didn't work/wasn't enabled.

message 14: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2351 comments I read books in 3 formats:
Paper (including hardcover, paperback, printed stories)
Audio (using an Audible app on my phone)

I prefer paper. I love a hardcover that falls open on the counter and stays open most of the way through. I like its feel. I like to be able to see the cover whenever I want by just tipping the book. But I probably read as many in audible as on paper because I listen to audiobooks when I bike, walk, clean house, drive, fold laundry, braid my hair, play freecell, exercise, etc. Kindle use is primarily for travel for space reasons, and I read the fewest books on Kindle. Some books are easier to follow in audio and some are harder but most work fine in audio or print. If I read an audio book or a Kindle book that I think is outstanding, I have been know to buy the hardcover for my keeper shelves, although I do that far less frequently now than in the past.

message 15: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Hobson | 77 comments I collect as well as read books, so I love to end up with a hardback, even if I only find it years after first reading the book. I replace my paperbacks with hardbacks and first editions and donate the paperbacks to the local hospital for other readers.
I like to be able to see them on bookshelves throughout the house. My daughter and I play a game where she will run to shelf and cover a spine and then ask me the title of the book. She marvels how I remember each one, but I don't tell her that I can work it out by looking at the titles by the same author on either side.

The only time that I resort to any sort of eReading (via my iPad) is for very old books that are hard to find a copy of. Sometimes it is possible to download these for free, which is preferable to buying them new for a high price.

message 16: by James E. (new)

James E. Martin | 77 comments I strictly read ebooks downloaded from the excellent collection at Singapore National Library. Its free, eco-friendly, and very convenient. I can read on multiple devices, borrow up to 15 books at a time, and read on the train, bus etc. Forget buying or borrowing paper books.

message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I read linear texts (texts I read from start to finish without jumping around) with few or no little illustrations either on a kindle or in print (whichever is cheaper). Linear texts are mostly fiction (although some fiction isn't that linear), but occasionally history.

I read non-fiction (and some non-conventional fiction) mostly in print so I can flip back and forth more easily. Search isn't the same thing. (The luxury option, of course, is to have a book both in print and in electronic form, so you can flip around and search.)

I listen to audio books pretty much exclusively in the car.

And sometimes, a book is such a bookish book, that it has to be in print. The most recent case of that was Forbidden Line.

message 18: by Franky (last edited Dec 19, 2018 06:35PM) (new)

Franky | 110 comments I am with some of the "old schoolers" in that I love either the paperback or hardback. Something about a physical book, holding it, looking at the cover, and of course the book itself that really resonates with the entire reading experience.

However, I do have a decent amount of Kindle books that I read through my Amazon Kindle. Sometimes hard copies of rare books are either non existent or very expensive, so having that option is great. Some of the Kindle deals are pretty cool and I find reading that way fairly convenient too, even if I do prefer a physical copy of a novel.

I'd say I'm about 80% hard copy of a book, 20% Kindle read.

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