Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hyperlinked Infinite Jest: This is What iPads are For

When ebooks were in their infancy, Infinite Jest was the first book I thought of. Not only is it the size of a small dog, but it is also has end notes. (And no, you can’t skip them. I mean, no one is going to show up at your house and make you read them, but you miss out on a whole level of the story if you skip them.) This means, that you are constantly flipping back and forth between two bookmarks in a book that wouldn’t look ridiculous in a stroller.

But, now, the Google editions .epub version, at least read in the IndieBound Reader on a touch screen is hyperlinked. Just touch the annotation in the text and you are taken to the note. At the end of the note is another link that says “Back to Text” which takes you, well, back to the text. You can also search in the text, which for a book with as complex a structure as Infinite Jest, gives you another tool for keeping all the characters, ideas, and events straight in your head. And you can add linked bookmarks, like to the page that shows the chronological order of the sponsored years, that can take you back and forth between events. And you can add your own notes. And it's $9.99.

To me, this is what makes ebooks important; they can allow for a deeper reading experience than print books because of how they allow the reader to interact with the text itself. And, this means are there no longer any excuses for not reading Infinite Jest.

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