Dr. Boli would not have imagined that the mere mention of ebook readers could lead to such spirited discussion among his regular correspondents. Clearly the topic is one that provokes strong opinions, even among those who do not use ebook readers.
If everyone else has strong opinions on the subject, it will come as no surprise that Dr. Boli has some opinions of his own. To carry around a whole library in an object smaller than a single book is a wonderful advance in technology, but far too little attention has been paid to elementary considerations like type. Dr. Boli is looking at one of the most popular ebook readers right now. It right-justifies lines, but cannot hyphenate words, making pages look as if they were laid out by a third-grader with a home printing press. It counts all hyphens as nonbreaking hyphens, and two words separated by an em dash as one unbreakable word, which makes the page look even sloppier. One has the impression that the thing was designed by people who had heard of books at second hand, possibly by watching a short television documentary on the subject, but had never handled a book themselves.
For this reason, Dr. Boli prefers to read scanned books on a tablet computer, which is probably as close as one can come to having the experience of a paper book without any paper. Fortunately there are thousands and thousands of such books available from Google Books and the Internet Archive. Google Books even makes scanned pages searchable; Dr. Boli has no idea how such a miracle is accomplished, but he imagines it has something to do with slave labor.
Finally, Dr. Boli is pleased to report that, since he last wrote, he has found a simple and elegant solution to the problem of synchronizing an ebook with the paper copy at home. With most of the popular ebook readers, it is a simple matter to synchronize the book across multiple devices—in Dr. Boli’s case, various Linux computers, ebook readers, and Android devices. Having set up that synchronization on the desktop computer at home, one simply instructs one’s valet to check the last location read in the ebook a few minutes before one is expected at home, and then find that place in the printed book and insert a bookmark there. Similarly, before one leaves the house, the valet checks the position of the bookmark and advances the ebook to that location. Thus the synchronization is accomplished with no effort at all on the reader’s part.