Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Hunger Games: e-book version

Today I'm going to consider the kindle version of The Hunger Games. Here's the cover:

And here's the title page:

The value of a cover page for an ebook is debatable. On a kindle, when you click on the book's name in the home page, you get taken straight to the first page of chapter 1 and skip the cover page entirely. And if including a cover page is debatable, including a title page is even more so. In a physical book, the title page establishes the proper title and author of the book for cataloguing purposes. On its verso you would usually find further publication information and the book's copyright statement. But you don't need this in an ebook - you can have the page with all the publication information without needing a title page to go on the other side. In this particular ebook, the publication data and copyright is at the end of the ebook.

And here's the table of contents, where if you click on a chapter heading you'll be taken straight to that page:

This table of contents is ugly, with no regard for pleasing layout. It's also somewhat difficult to navigate, as you can't see the whole table of contents on one 'page'.

In terms of the page layout, this is pretty much up to the user. I can make the text bigger or smaller, change the typeface from regular to condensed or sans serif, change the line spacing, and even change the page orientation:

smaller text
larger text

sans serif typeface
regular typeface

landscape orientation
When the reader can change how the page looks at will, this defeats the purpose of designing a perfectly balanced page-spread. The downside is that the layout is not as nice as that of a print book. The upside is that it puts power in the reader's hands: they can read it in the format they find easiest. I think the ability to change the size of the text is probably the most useful, as many people suffer from eye problems that make reading smaller text difficult.

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