Truly Readable E-Books (Thanks to HTML5)

Screenshot of Bluefin e-book

Reading a book on a website is a bit like holding a book upside down and turning pages with your nose. Because most websites are designed with standard HTML, there is no easy way to give a user true page-by-page performance. The result is the incessant scrolling and clicking that you do with normal web pages, only magnified by however many hundreds of pages the book has.

The ideal solution to this problem is to construct some type of interface that allows natural page turning, avoids scrolling, and presents the user with readable text. It should be something that works equally well on a desktop, laptop, and tablet.

One possible way to accomplish this was to use a third-party plugin like Adobe Flash Player. As a parent, I’ve seen numerous sites for children that rely on Flash to give early readers the page-turning book experience. But Flash brings its own problems. For one, it is proprietary, requiring users to download non-free software. In fact, having to download anything at all is enough to turn off some people. There is also the problem of device support. Tablets like the iPad, would be excluded, as would screen readers for the visually impaired. Flash text is not real text, and basic interaction (copying, pasting, right clicking to get the browser’s menu for tasks like searching for words, and interacting with extensions) are not supported 100 percent. This leaves users with a less than pleasant experience.

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