My trouble with ebooks

In a recent post I described my anxiety in deciding what to read next: Somewhere in Time with an irritating writing style but a nice plot and a discussion in the Goodreads time travel group, or An0ma1y with a fantastic promotional video, promise of solid time travel intricacies and a gripping start…but in e-book format which I don’t get on well with.

I chose An0ma1y.

I do most of my reading on my daily commute on the train so in the past few weeks week I’ve joined the fast majority of other passengers in gormlessly staring downwards at a phone screen.

First musings

The first chapter is fantastic! A superb blend of aliens, time stasis and a fascinating main character. I feel that every sentence has an incredible amount of thought behind it – there is real depth to what I’m reading which makes it feel solid; definitely not a superficial smearing of words to beef up a page count.

It’s written in the present tense – a style I’ve never read before. It took me some getting used to and at first I felt a little disconnected, but now I’m well settled in and find that it adds to the eeriness of the alien encounter.

The reason why I chose An0ma1y over Somewhere in Time is that after reading just the first couple of pages I wanted to know more.

But finding out more is taking too long! Chapters 2 and 3 are additional settings with additional character introductions which no doubt will tie together at some point. This is a bit of a distraction when I’m so eager to read the alien / time travel line, but I know it will make later stages of the novel a really good read when it all comes together.

The problem is the dratted e-book format, or at least, reading it on my phone. I’m somewhere in Chapter 3 with no idea when the chapter will end, or indeed, if the end of the chapter will return back to the alien plot. I can flick through easily with a paperback, but swiping one page at a time is…a snore chore.

But maybe I should be patient and wait it through. Everything in its own time, right?

A new start

Last week saw me attending a conference away from home. The funny thing about conferences is that despite the overall high level idea that they are a good place to mix and mingle with other like-minded professionals in your area of expertise, there is a significant underground sub-layer of introverted geeks such as myself who are most comfortable to simply be left alone.

So in the evenings after the talks, posters, discussions, etc. whilst some 25% of the attendees go on to visit the sights and sounds of the city, the rest of us retire to our hotels rooms and work on our papers, and after sobbing a little bit because we miss our family at home (the dust in the hotel rooms really gets in your eyes) we settle down with a good book.

And so I had time to return to An0ma1y.

Life after Chapter 3

So what happens after Chapter 3?

I can report that…I never got that far. The kindle app had updated and my place was lost. I swiped a gazillion pages to where I thought I was, read a couple more pages and hurled my phone on the chair on the other side of the hotel room in total and sheer frustration.

To be clear…not because of the book, but from reading on a phone.

I was never picked for sports at school. Here’s an example why: from 2 meters I missed the chair.

The phone sailed past the chair, and into the wall. And when I say “into” I mean “against and along”. The screen now has a crack. I thought with present tense reading I was disconnected…now the same was happening to my family too during my skype connection.

The author of An0ma1y, C. J. Moseley, mentioned in a tweet that phones aren’t the way to read ebooks. And I believe him.

Would a proper e-reader be better? Or would they, as I suspect, repeat the same kind of problems by providing a series rather than parallel reading experience, limiting the reader to swiping a single page at a time rather than flicking through whole sections in one go?

I must admit, I’ve never even held an e-reader, but I guess at heart I’m just an old fashioned tree chopping dinosaur who prefers paperbacks which give me a better overall view.


Edit: I’ve just read that C.J. Moseley has published an Omnibus edition in paperback; I’ve updated my Christmas wishlist!

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up to receive future posts sent direct to your email!


  1. Oh no.
    I can’t believe that you damaged your phone, because of trying to read my book (however obliquely).
    I understand your reticence over e-books, as I tried reading them on my iPhone 3GS years ago and never got on with them, and then I got a Kindle Touch.
    While not exactly a book, the touch to turn pages and incredible battery life really does feel like a similar experience, although you can’t flick through like you can in a real book. But they never forget your place unlike the apps and ebooks are very cheap (even free if you shop smart and check out the free classics on project gutenberg), which has made me a convert.

    Just to let you know, the story cycles between the characters every third chapter, and they all influence each other. By the end of the trilogy most chapters have at least two of the main characters in them, although you have a way to go to reach there. I hope when you get chance to read the Omnibus (my original copy of which will be posted tomorrow, as we discussed on Goodreads) you’ll enjoy the rest of the story. I just wish I could afford to send you a pristine copy, or better yet a Kindle Paper white…

  2. Yes, it’s ironic that taking my phone frustration out on the phone itself actually makes the whole phone reading experience even worse!!

    That said, I was desperate to find out what happens, so as you know I’ve returned to reading it…that’s a huge thumbs up to An0ma1y!! 🙂

    It’s really slow progress though…I’m somewhere in chapter 4 so I’m really looking forward to reading your paperback when it arrives – really really grateful for that! 🙂

    (And naturally no problem with non pristine…I have 2 young daughters who quickly see to it that nothing ever stays pristine for long! And besides…I have the kindle version if there’s a really unreadable page…I guess there’s a positive side to ebooks after all! 😉 )

What do you think? Leave a Reply! :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.