The Guardian has an interesting article looking at how ebooks have changed the way we read. In particular, writer Anne Baddeley questions whether the format of ebooks favours simply structured books with fairly linear narratives, at the expensive of more complex tales?
The argument is based on an unscientific but interesting observation regarding the physicality of books vs ebooks. With a paper book, readers are free to flick back through a book, re-check something from an earlier point, and take their time with the story; Baddeley argues that with an ebook, however, there’s that percentage counter indicating how far through the book the reader has reached, and that this counter encourages the reader to go faster and to spend less time looking back. Complex plots might interrupt this speed and cause a negative reaction from the reader.
Genre fiction fits into the argument because genre fiction tends to have certain conventions that make it easier for the reader to understand the structure that’s being used, whereas non-genre or literary fiction might be more experimental. Purists might be aghast at the idea that ebooks are having this effect, but at the end of the day the paper book is no more valid than the ereader as a medium. They are, though, very different, and it’s clear that reading a book on an ereader is by no means the same as reader the same book in paper format.