Flipback books: I don’t get it.

These odd little things have started showing up in Waterstones, having taken the Netherlands by storm (I’m not sure if a million copies sold really qualifies as a ‘storm’ but I guess that depends on the size of your country). Amazon sells them too, and I’m still not sure I see the point.

The Guardian's Dominic Kinsey reviews flipback books

The flipback website touts the new format as a ‘reading revolution’. Your actual book ‘opens top to bottom and has sideways-printed text, so you get a full length novel in little more than the size of an iPhone.’

It’s probably the size of a lot of things, but having the word ‘iPhone’ in your ad does make the punters’ eyes light up.

Okay, it’s smaller than a Kindle so it fits in your pocket. That’s fair enough, but the Kindle’s size is down to its screen which is big enough to read comfortably. The flipbacks aren’t bad, though I’d still like to be able to hit a button to make the text bigger. No? Okay, maybe in the next version.

And doesn’t ‘pocket-sized’ depend on the size of the original book? Any one of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy would surely cause an unsightly and uncomfortable bulge. With a Kindle you get a few hundred books in your bag, and the size of the device stays more or less the same.

Your flipbook never needs charging. That’s also true, but the wireless switched off, you should be able to get a couple of weeks reading time out of a Kindle; plenty of time for most people to find a power point somewhere.

The biggest disadvantage of the Kindle is not its size, or its need for that rare commodity known as ‘electricity’; it’s the fact that it isn’t a real book, and folk still like real books. Like most people, I have two books shelves: one for the books I want friends to see that I read (anything by Ann Patchett and Lionel Shriver), and a shelf (lower down) for stuff that I don’t want them to know that I read (Wolverine: Origins and dodgy Victorian ‘literature’).

The Kindle doesn’t look as good as a flipbook on either shelf … 🙁

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