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The Front Parlor > Does the book's format influence your enjoyment

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message 1: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (last edited Jun 01, 2012 08:34AM) (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
As I was flipping through my library copy of Aztec last night, I realized that this was probably NOT going to be a quick read for me. This copy has small print, narrow margins (you have to physically adjust the page to read the words near the spine) and there doesn't seem to be a lot of chapters.

I also know that despite recommendations from numerous people around the two Dorothy Dunnett series (Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo), I was so annoyed by the physical books (mostly the font in this case) that I didn't get past the first chapter.

Am I the only superficial person out there? Are there things that really bother you in the physical form of the book? What things do you like?


message 2: by Cheryl A (new)

Cheryl A | 937 comments Your comments make me understand why e-readers have fans. I'm a "book" person (and cheap!), so I've never considered an e-reader, but admit that in cases like these, it would be an easier read on a device.

I can't tell one font from another, but do prefer a bit of spacing in between lines for reading ease. The few books I actually buy are generally the trade paperback version - a large enough book to read, but lighter in weight (and cheaper than hardback!).


message 3: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments JoLene, I'm right there with you! The issues you mentioned are the reasons why I've put every copy of Aztec down every time I see it at a library sale. From reading the book description it seems like a story I would enjoy, but the physical book prevents me from picking it up. I haven't managed to find an ecopy or audio available.

I had the same issue with Shōgun. The only reason why I picked up a copy was because a good friend highly recommended it and a few of us had decided to read it. Luckily, I was able to get the audio for it as well. I ended up listening more to the audio than actually picking up the book despite not really liking the narrator. It was a great story though and I'm glad I was able to get through it.

I prefer physical books with a beautiful cover, soft buttery pages and the new book smell. I like a bit of spacing between lines, medium font and a nice margin. For some reason books that have pages cut into ragged edges, like The Night Circus, are quick to draw my attention.


message 4: by Nell (new)

Nell @JoLene - The 'raggedy edges' are called deckle edges and are meant to resemble handmade or handcut pages. I like the style.

I have a Kindle and like the feature that allows me to adjust the type size. I remain a fan of 'real' books. If I like the story, it usually doesn't matter which format (e-book or print) except where there are graphics. A map or tables or family trees don't show up well on Kindle.


message 5: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
Don't get me wrong, I like physical books as well. I have bought books based on the cover many times. Although I do like my ebook as well, there are some limitations.

I don't normally notice font but in the case of the Dunnett books, it was an uneven font --- I think they were trying to make it look old.

I now prefer to read long books on my Kindle because holding the mass market paperbacks that are 800+ pages is a pain.


message 6: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 277 comments Absolutely agree. I have to like the font, the text size, and a dozen other pretty-to-the-eye factors.

And funnily enough... on my ereader, suddenly those cheap, nasty-paper paperbacks (often non-fiction) that just affront the senses, were pretty. Look great on the screen, because there's nothing wrong with the type. Chalk one up for the ereader.

I'm meant to read Ulysses but I've rejected several on print matters - nah, don't like the pages; if I'm going to spend time with an 800 page book... Inner margins, lack of, seem such an easily-fixed problem. Why do they do that?


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments On the other side, as an author, I always wonder how the changing format impacts the reading experience for the readers.

I prefer to read electronically now. Yet there are disadvantages. It is not easy - for me anyhow - to flip through. As an author I put more effort now into making sure my readers will not get lost (especially as character names are difficult).

Unfortunately I think some work will be lost or not appreciated. In our trilogy we put huge effort into choosing titles for our chapters - most have multiple meanings - but it is easy to suspect no one will notice.


message 8: by Zoe (last edited Jun 02, 2012 10:20AM) (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) I'm with the superficial side ;)
I can be easily deterred by unappealing cover or strange font and margins. Can;t really explain why...

Jackie wrote: "...I had the same issue with Shōgun. The only reason why I picked up a copy was because a good friend highly recommended it and a few of us had decided to read it. Luckily, I was able to get the audio for it as well. I ended up listening more to the audio than actually picking up the book despite not really liking the narrator. It was a great story though and I'm glad I was able to get through it.
..."


It happened to me too. I hated its cover and the book seemed way too long (I'm ashamed to admit I can be deterred by that too...)
At one point my husband practically forced me into reading it, turning me into an obsessive fan of Clavell (there is no counting to the times I re-read this same 'Shogun' and all the rest of Clavell's books ever since).


As for the 'Aztec', I tried to get it for this month group read and it has no electronic version :(
(living overseas I dependent on electronic books)


message 9: by Nell (last edited Jun 02, 2012 11:01AM) (new)

Nell Victoria_Grossack wrote: "On the other side, as an author, I always wonder how the changing format impacts the reading experience for the readers.

I prefer to read electronically now. Yet there are disadvantages. It is not easy - for me anyhow - to flip through..."


That is a drawback for an electronic book. I downloaded a book set in modern India that has a glossary of unfamiliar words in the back. I read the first in this series in print and flipped to the back glossary as I read. Reading the second on my Kindle is a pain. In fact, I set the book aside and am yet to finish it.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments @Nell

I expect things will become more sophisticated. However, readers may need training, too.


message 11: by Bryn (last edited Jun 02, 2012 01:44PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 277 comments Victoria_Grossack wrote: "...Unfortunately I think some work will be lost or not appreciated. In our trilogy we put huge effort into choosing titles for our chapters - most have multiple meanings - but it is easy to suspect no one will notice..."

I'd be sad to think that - sad and upset. You believe they won't notice chapter titles and epigraphs? These are too important to me to lose. As in, they'll see them once and forget about them?

Character names: can the search function be an advantage here?


message 12: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 234 comments This is one of the things that sold me on ereaders -- being able to adjust format. And it's something I didn't realize was preventing me from getting into certain print books until I was able to adjust those same books on my Kindle! Funny how these little things make a difference to readers.


message 13: by Patricia (new)

Patricia O'Sullivan | 17 comments Great thread. I love reading heavy books on my kindle. However, I do appreciate maps in a book. I miss having a map to flip to. I've gotten around that by reading on my ipad and clicking back and forth between my kindle app and google maps.

As for glossaries and family trees, etc. I'm at the point where I feel that if there needs to be so much information given to the reader up front or as reference material, I'm not sure I want to read the story. Maybe that is superficial, but I read fiction for pleasure. Detailed history lessons are best left to professional historians.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) Even though I'm an early adapter, I've noticed that I have a greater chance of finishing a book if it's a physical copy. Ebooks are very easy for me to put down.


message 15: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (breakofdawn) I never thought I'd be an ebook kind of person.. But once I went ebook I never went back. Now, if the book isn't available electronically, I usually end up skipping it. I like the convenience of having a 100 of so books stashed in my purse at all times ;)

I do still buy dead tree books though.. But just the ones I really want and they are just for decoration :)


message 16: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Here's an issue that isn't quite formatting, but is something for authors to think about: I've heard lots of readers complain that they don't care for huge paragraphs, i.e. a page with just one or two paragraphs on it. Comes across as more dense or intimidating, or possibly as something (like a big block of narrative or description) which might be boring. I admit, I'm not a huge fan of enormous page-and-a-half paragraphs myself - starts to look like some stream-of-consciousness diatribe with no breaks in the action!


message 17: by Patricia (new)

Patricia O'Sullivan | 17 comments Kate wrote: "Here's an issue that isn't quite formatting, but is something for authors to think about: I've heard lots of readers complain that they don't care for huge paragraphs, i.e. a page with just one or..."

Kate, excellent point. I don't mind those in a print book as long as the paragraph is not a run-on. However, they annoy me in the e-reader format because there are no breaks in the text on the screen. I've tried to break up paragraphs in my novels to avoid big blocks of text.


message 18: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 221 comments If the content is engrossing enough I don't care or even notice how it's formatted. I am in the world of the novel. I can be jolted out of it easily, however, when I'm reading on public transit and have to watch for my stop. That will always be the case whether I'm reading the print version or the digital version.


message 19: by Lana (new)

Lana  (LanaBells) As an English teacher who dislikes dealing with the constant texting and web surfing during class (against school rules bit a complex issue) an individual who collects rare and first editions of books, I dislike eReaders as well as accessing books on-line. I appreciate the many positive uses of technology but I prefer the thrill of walking into a bookshop and holding a physical book. I adore the smell of "musty" old books, the crackle of a stiff binding and the marginalia left by of previous owners.


message 20: by Victoria_Grossack (last edited Jun 04, 2012 07:38AM) (new)

Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Bryn wrote: "I'd be sad to think that - sad and upset. You believe they won't notice chapter titles and epigraphs? These are too important to me to lose. As in, they'll see them once and forget about them?"

Yes, I do think that. But I have learned that some readers don't even pay attention to the title of the novel. One woman read Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus and said that she was very surprised (towards the end) to learn of the relationship between Jocasta and Oedipus.


message 21: by Shomeret (last edited Jun 02, 2012 09:38PM) (new)

Shomeret | 221 comments Re reader surprised about the Oedipus and Jocasta relationship--This person also isn't well educated in Greek mythology or psychology for that matter.


message 22: by Kit★ (new)

Kit★ (xkittyxlzt) I don't do ebooks. I prefer hardbacks, especially nice crisp new ones with that luscious new-paper smell, especially if it's got a nice binding under the dust-jacket, and those thick pages, either smooth edged or that ragged style, I like that too. If I can't have new hb, then used is cool. And likewise with the larger trade paperbacks, they're good too, especially if they've got a thicker cover and preferably the papery or that matte kind of finish than the glossy style. Regular pbs are ok too, but that's not my preferred format, especially if it's a book I really, really like and plan on keeping.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Shomeret wrote: "Re reader surprised about the Oedipus and Jocasta relationship--This person also isn't well educated in Greek mythology or psychology for that matter."

Yes, I did not know what to say! How could she have missed everything? We had even put it into the prologue, as a way of getting all the readers on to a relatively equal footing, and deciding that the incest could not be considered a spoiler. Obviously not everyone reads the prologue! (Note to self: start future books with Chapter One.)

But I'd like to know how people would like their e-reading enhanced.

For myself, I'd like a "You Are Here" key - a button you can push to see what book you're in, the names of the author(s), the number and title of the chapter, etc. I'd also like something that indicates how much remains of the story/text, as opposed to simply the entire book. Too often I think I am at 90% only to discover that the remaining 10% is either index or a chapter of another book. It is disconcerting.

It might be nice to know how much remains in a chapter, too. Perhaps my quant side is showing.

The graphics are of course sad. We always steer people to our website, where there are better versions of maps.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Kit★ wrote: "I don't do ebooks. I prefer hardbacks, especially nice crisp new ones with that luscious new-paper smell, especially if it's got a nice binding under the dust-jacket, and those thick pages, either ..."

I agree, real books are lovely. But I frequently change continents and can't schlep my library with me.


message 25: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments Victoria_Grossack wrote: "But I'd like to know how people would like their e-reading enhanced.

For myself, I'd like a "You Are Here" key - a button you can push to see what book you're in, the names of the author(s), the number and title of the chapter, etc. I'd also like something that indicates how much remains of the story/text, as opposed to simply the entire book. Too often I think I am at 90% only to discover that the remaining 10% is either index or a chapter of another book. It is disconcerting."



The NookColor already has these features. When the book is open you can click on contents and it highlights the chapter you are on. If you want to know what page you are on just tap on the page and it will tell you what page you are on, how many pages until the next chapter and how many pages you need to finish the entire book. I love this feature! Also with foot notes it highlights it in blue, just press it so it takes you to the footnote and then hit back on the top of the page. Very easy. I wish glossaries were easier. Now I just highlight the word glossary first and it remains at the top of my highlighted items. When I need it I just bookmark the page I'm on and then go to highlights for the glossary.

I agree that maps and graphics are hard to manage. I tend to go online for those if I really need them.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Ah, well, my kids got me the cheapest Kindle...


message 27: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments LOL. Tell them mama needs an upgrade! Just kidding. Both ereaders have their advantages. I wish B&N offered cheaper reads, but I like the Nook's features more than the Kindle's.


message 28: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments Victoria_Grossack wrote: "I have learned that some readers don't even pay attentiont to the title of the novel. One woman read Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus and said that she was very surprised (towards the end) to learn of the relationship between Jocasta and Oedipus."

Victoria, that is both funny and hair-tearing. Sometimes you absolutely want to shake readers who simply aren't paying attention. Similarly, for "Empress of the Seven Hills" I had four narrators, and I always tried to make it clear in the first few sentences of a new scene which character was doing the narrating. But just to be safe I also put the character's name at the top of each new scene, in capital letters, to make it absolutely clear that the point of view had shifted. And I've still had readers who complained that they couldn't tell which character was narrating. At some point you have to give up: no matter easy you make it for your readers, the ones who don't pay attention will always find a way to be confused.

The fact that someone could be surprised that a book with "mother-wife" in the title might have incest in it, however, is truly boggling.


message 29: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
Well --- maybe in this day and age, they thought mother-wife was similar to baby-mama ;-)

Seriously, I do appreciate things when authors do make it easier for readers to distinguish voice. I also agree that sometimes long paragraphs, especially on the e-readers are tiresome. I think that personally, I feel like I'm reading faster, if the book has shorter chapters or at least breaks in the chapters themselves (not sure what the formal term is) but it provides a stopping place. I am often "reading on the go" so it's nice to stop at a natural point vs just the end of a paragraph.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) Victoria_Grossack wrote: "Yes, I did not know what to say! How could she have missed everything? We had even put it into the prologue, as a way of getting all the readers on to a relatively equal footing, and deciding that the incest could not be considered a spoiler. Obviously not everyone reads the prologue! (Note to self: start future books with Chapter One.)

But I'd like to know how people would like their e-reading enhanced.

For myself, I'd like a "You Are Here" key - a button you can push to see what book you're in, the names of the author(s), the number and title of the chapter, etc. I'd also like something that indicates how much remains of the story/text, as opposed to simply the entire book. Too often I think I am at 90% only to discover that the remaining 10% is either index or a chapter of another book. It is disconcerting.

It might be nice to know how much remains in a chapter, too. Perhaps my quant side is showing.

The graphics are of course sad. We always steer people to our website, where there are better versions of maps.
"



I would love those features to be available in all readers. I don't have a Nookcolor (I needed an eink screen) and the nook STR was horrible.

I want maps. I love maps. I want to be able to flip to a map and flip back again without losing my place.

I also want easy to access glossaries - to be able to flip to the glossary and back again without loosing my place. I'm one of those people who has no problem with a gigantic cast of characters...as long as I get a glossary. Want to make up your own language or write a poem in Ancient Greek? Fine. Just, glossary please.


message 31: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Gleeson I love the hard copy nature of a book. To be able to flip back and forth, to look at the cover now and again, to refer to the back if their are endorsements or blurbs, or dustjacket to see what the author looks like. Then I pick up Aztec and my eyes cross. I've had this book on my shelf for 15 years. It's taken this online book club to make me consider reading it and it's a subject I know I'll enjoy.

I have an ereader and in this case, I wish it were on there. My husband finds that he can now read again when he uses his ereader. He realized that all these years he was probably slightly dyslexic and the 'rivers' that he saw on a conventional page full of text don't happen on an ereader.


message 32: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
That is awesome that the e-reader allows your husband to read again. It is the same for my mom --- she has severe arthritis in her shoulders and wrists. The e-reader allows her to read again.

I still go back and forth between my e-reader and "real" books. I love getting a book and seeing the cover, looking at all the pages before and after the actual story. The Kindle just drops me to the first page of the story and I find it jarring. I still page back to title page and look at the TOC to see what's after the story (author biography, Q&A, discussion questions), but often I don't go there because I don't want to mess up the "sync to last page read" function.

I also LOVE maps!!! Unfortunately they aren't that great on the Kindle (assuming the same for other e-readers). For Game of Thrones that I just read, I went out to the web to view/print. I did the same for Jocasta (thanks Victoria/Alice).

I really wish that Aztec were available on e-reader because I really am not motivated to read even though I like the story so far (page 27) -- but it is going soooo slowly. I'm about to leave for a trip and will NOT be lugging it around :-(


message 33: by Victoria_Grossack (last edited Jun 04, 2012 10:27AM) (new)

Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments The difference e-readers make when you have physical ailments is enormous. I was treating my Kindle as simply a convenience - good for those international flights - and then I had my ski accident.

I was stuck in a back brace, one arm completely useless, for a couple of months. At first I could not even turn on my side.

The Kindle, which was light and could be manipulated with one hand, became very dear to me during those months. The stories helped me get through the pain.

@Jolene - so glad you made use of our maps!


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) Victoria_Grossack wrote: "The difference e-readers make when you have physical ailments is enormous. "

I agree. My blind cousin has a kindle and she loves it! Amazon's site isn't really 100% accessible but she can use the kindle text 2 speech function. Its really made a big difference for her.


message 35: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 544 comments My mom has both arthritic wrists and bad eyes - Kindle has been great for her, especially since she finds it hard to hold big books up close enough to see. I've often thought that people who had to rely on large-print books really got screwed since the selection there is much smaller - but now they can get a Kindle or a Nook and blow the print up as large as they like. It really is a boon.


message 36: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 93 comments Font is big thing with me. I've been struggling through Sarum: The Novel of England and took one look at Dorothy Dunnett's book when it arrived and sighed very loudly. The over saturated ink look bothers me a lot. Add that to the darker paper.... meh.

I loved Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery but it took me nearly a month to read solely because of its weight.

As for ereaders, mine offers different fonts, but none that I really like. I'm a sarif girl, and the only option is Times New Roman - which I'm really NOT fond of. Not that I use it much. I prefer the challenge of avoiding paper-cuts, being able to get the next page ready to turn, the scent, and finding new positions to place my page-marker.


message 37: by Moon (new)

Moon | -48 comments I could not read the paperback of Jack Whyte's Templar trilogy due to the format of the book. It's a thick book, but the way it was made was so bulky and hard to hold that I couldn't finish it. It was one of those mass market paperbacks that seem rather taller than normal, you know what I mean? Ugh, don't like those kind!


message 38: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
Moon wrote: "I could not read the paperback of Jack Whyte's Templar trilogy due to the format of the book. It's a thick book, but the way it was made was so bulky and hard to hold that I couldn't finish it. It ..."

I recently noticed that a couple of the books my husband had bought were this new mass market paperback format --- they are taller and a bit thinner. If it's a long book, I prefer hardback or trade.


message 39: by Amy (new)

Amy (arb26) | 8 comments I like the feel of a book in my hands. Although I do use my kids e-readers, I like books, but it's important to have a good quality font and paper.

@ Nell- Thanks for the name of the rough edged books. I knew they were to resemble an older handmade book, but never knew it had a name!


message 40: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 341 comments Yes, the format does influence my enjoyment. I could never get used to "reading" off a screen. Using an e-reader would be too much screen time for me; I read to get away from computers and other electronic gadgets, not to use them even more.


message 41: by Diane (new)

Diane Lewis JoLene wrote: "As I was flipping through my library copy of Aztec last night, I realized that this was probably NOT going to be a quick read for me. This copy has small print, narrow margins (you have to physica..."

I am influenced by the look of a book. I really dislike it when there are no quotes around dialog which some authors love to do. You have to work harder to carve out the exposition from the conversations.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Melissa wrote: "Yes, the format does influence my enjoyment. I could never get used to "reading" off a screen. Using an e-reader would be too much screen time for me; I read to get away from computers and other el..."

I think a lot of people felt that way, oh, say a decade ago, during the first wave of e-books. But since then many have become used to screen-reading. And the lighting of the Kindle is softer so it doesn't hurt the eyes (at least not mine).


message 43: by JoLene, Mistress of the Challenge (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1287 comments Mod
I don't think of my Kindle as an electronic device because the screen is not back-lit and more importantly, it doesn't have the ability to distract or interrupt me --- meaning no emails coming in, good Internet browsing (I have an older model).


message 44: by Martin (new)

Martin Turnbull (martin_turnbull) Shomeret wrote: "If the content is engrossing enough I don't care or even notice how it's formatted. I am in the world of the novel. I can be jolted out of it easily, however, when I'm reading on public transit a..."

I agree with Shomeret. 20 minutes into my first ebook and I was a covert. As a reader of loooong HF, reading them as ebooks is SO much easier, esp when traveling. The format--electronic or paper--makes no difference to me when it comes to continuing with a novel. It's about the prose. It's always about the prose.


message 45: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Graham | 9 comments I never thought I'd say it it but there really is a place for a Kindle in your life, especially if you travel. My shoulders now thank me for not carrying a bag full of rocks. But has anyone else noticed a tendency to scan-read stuff on a screen? I think I pay much closer attention to a paper page.


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -52 comments Laurie wrote: "I never thought I'd say it it but there really is a place for a Kindle in your life, especially if you travel. My shoulders now thank me for not carrying a bag full of rocks. But has anyone else noticed a tendency to scan-read stuff on a screen? I think I pay much closer attention to a paper page."

As an author, I do worry about how it changes the reading experience.

As for my own reading habits, if it pulls me in, then it doesn't matter.

I do get annoyed by authors/publishers who don't put any effort into formatting their text.


message 47: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) JoLene wrote: "I don't think of my Kindle as an electronic device because the screen is not back-lit and more importantly, it doesn't have the ability to distract or interrupt me --- meaning no emails coming in, ..."

That's what I love about my Kindle best.
It's no computer, no cell phone, no pad-of-any-sort. It's just e-reader and nothing else. And very comfortable at that, with no sensation of reading off the computer screen.
I was fond of paperbacks, reluctant to try e-readers, but I was pleasantly surprised :)


message 48: by Jackie (last edited Jun 07, 2012 12:15PM) (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2231 comments I thought the wi-fi would be a big distraction, but once the shine of it wore off I only use it in a pinch or when I'm too lazy to fire up the laptop. Since I'm like the only person in the world that doesn't own a smartphone or own an iPad having the wifi on my nook is very convenient when traveling.


message 49: by Zoe (last edited Jun 07, 2012 09:48PM) (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) Jackie wrote: "...
Since I'm like the only person in the world the world that doesn't own a smartphone or own an iPad ..."



Oh, I thought I was that only person with no smart phone.

*sigh* There goes my Guinness World Record
:D


message 50: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 221 comments I also don't have a smart phone. My only phone is a landline. Having personal conversations in public is not for me.


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