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Over the past three months I have read seven books, maybe it’s eight but seven of those I read were not books in the conventional sense.

Three of them I read on the Amazon Kindle I was sent to review and four were audio books, which I downloaded from Audible.

That led me to think, the book I am reading at the moment, the second part of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque cycle ‘The Confusion’ is sitting on my bedside table with me only one sixth of the way through it.

The problem is that every time I pick it up I have to strain my eyes to read the rather small print. Now this may be a sign that I am getting old, but I honestly think that the print in that particular volume is too small to be comfortably read.

At over 800 pages, however, I am not sure how they could have fitted all the words into the space without reducing the font to the size it is.

The problem is that I am getting through a remarkable amount of books by listening to them in the car. Great books narrated by people who actually know how to speak English. Although I have to say that the chap narrating the book I am listening to at the moment ‘Dies the Fire’ by SM Sterling really needs a lesson on how to pronounce the words rations (rayshuns) and Edinburgh (Edenbura). The narrator of the latest Jasper Forde book, ‘Shades of Grey’ on the other hand was a real master. So I am getting through a fair quota of literature and just because I am listening to them instead of reading them directly doesn’t diminish my experience.

I would argue that my experience of the book is actually enhanced by listening to it. It may take a bit longer than my usual speed reading to get to the end, but many of the subtle nuances that I would normally gloss over in my haste to get to the next page I actually pick up while listening to an audio book. That and I hear it is frowned upon to read novels in traffic, especially when you have a tendency to get lost in a book like I do.

When it comes to reading on an ebook reader such as the Kindle I found that I was reading even faster than normal. Now, I am not sure if that was because of the number of words on the page or the novelty of the device or not having to hold the book open but I flew through the books I read on the Kindle.

The key to ebooks is two-fold, the ability to download books immediately from a library more massive than the largest Exclusive Books and to be able adjust the reading experience to what you find most comfortable.

I am particularly interested to see how the iPad fares as an ebook reader because the non-backlit screen of the Kindle and its ilk is particularly appealing to me. I get the feeling that the iPad is going to fail as an ebook reader simply because it will place too much strain on the eyes of the reader in low light conditions.

I hope that at some point in the future someone will come up with a screen that not only meets Apple’s demanding standards for display clarity as well as being able to switch into a non-backlit mode for reading the great, or not so great, works of literature.

Just for the record I don’t care who makes this device as long as it is easy to use and has access to a great ebook store. I have a funny feeling that it is more likely to run Android than any other OS and that will be great news for all of us.

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Save the trees