Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Picture books on Kindle

Kate and I just finished reading My Father's Dragon last night.  I spotted it in the Kindle storeand it was only 99 cents, so I thought it would be fun to read together.

We've read a couple of heavily-illustrated books on the Kindle.  It's been interesting to see how it handles the pictures. I took some screen shots, in case anyone else is curious about this.

Apparently the way the text splits around the pictures in the book is a bit different from what they chose to do in this ebook edition. I can see why they changed it, but for some reason they felt the need to insert "illustration appeared here" in the text, often right in the middle of a sentence.  I found this annoying.

These drawings are so cute and detailed. The small screen size is a bit of a disadvantage here. (The original illustrations are also black and white.)

Vertical pictures fill up the screen pretty well. Horizontal pictures come out much smaller, since of course they can only be as wide as the screen.

You can change the orientation to landscape, which increases the available width and makes the picture bigger, but it's awkward to flip back and forth. (Unfortunately there isn't a quick and easy way to do this--it requires multiple clicks each time.)

Kate and I both enjoyed the story (we read it in three installments). It was fun to see the pictures but I do think we would need to read the paper book version to really appreciate the drawings properly. We'll have to get the other two books out of the library to find out what happens next.

We also read Dick King-Smith's Funny Frank. Many of Mr. King-Smith's books feature animals behaving in unconventional ways, such as a pig who wants to fly,or a cat who keeps pet mice.This one is about a chicken who wants to swim.

There are quite a lot of illustrations--pretty much one per page. The drawings are small and simple, so I don't think you really lose anything viewing them on the Kindle screen.

The spacing of the pictures leads to large blank areas on some pages, which can make you think you're at the end of a chapter when you really aren't.

And there was this one egregious formatting error. Grrr.

This is a short chapter book for young readers. It's a cute story, if you can suspend your disbelief enough to accept that someone could make a wet suit for a chicken out of a hot water bottle, and that it would actually work.

Dick King-Smith is also the author of Babe,of course. He just passed away on January 4th. I have fond memories of reading some of his books to my siblings. I think Kate would enjoy hearing more of his stories. Another trip to the library!


MaryMary86 said...

I wondered how this would work as I find formatting changes annoying in the books I read (but I have Kindle on my iPhone.)

Do you think it's okay to replace regular books with e-versions for young readers? Do you plan to continue reading to her this way? Or will it be a mixture of the two?

Helena said...

We've only read these two ebooks, so far. I expect it'll be a mixture!

SAIDFRAZ said...

thanks for sharing, I've been trying to decide between a Kindle and a Nook. This gives me something to consider.

Amy B. said...

Very interesting, Helena. So far I've mostly avoided books for the kids on the Kindle. It's bad enough that steve and I have to share. I don't want to share with five more people. ;)

it's cool to see that it does ok with illustrations, though.

Casey Massey, Digital Scrapbooking Designer said...

I believe there is something wonderful and valuable in the touch and feel and smell of a book. Some of my fondest memories from childhood is of going to the library and choosing a wonerful book to pour over during the summer. What will a world be without beautiful hardbound books with pages to turn and pictures to marvel at? I will always want books, real books in my life, even if an e-book seems intriguing and maybe even more efficient at times. Casey

Heather T. said...

Interesting to see how that comes out! I really haven't been interested in getting one of those things yet. No hook for me, I guess--still like curling up with the real thing. Since most of my reading is science fiction, I'm not convinced a lot of my preferred reading material would be available through that medium in any case...

Kelly said...

I didn't even know pictures would show up on the Kindle. Great to know and how fun to read along together.


Wingnut said...

I *love* this book. I discovered it when my son was 5 or 6. I read it to him, one chapter at a time at bedtime. It is a wonderful, wonderful story :)

I won't comment on the Kindle stuff as I don't own an eReader yet :P

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Very neat! I didn't know those things had picture books, but I guess they would!

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