Reading Gibbon on an iPod
As it turns out, it’s less unpleasant than you might think. The application I’m using to read it, Eucalyptus, has reasonably good typography, and does a number of things to fake reading an actual book–including a mesmerizing page-turning animation which, after using it for months, I can’t stop playing with. It doesn’t do a number of things it should do, like providing a mechanism for searching in the book you’re reading, or allowing you to add your own bookmarks. It costs about ten dollars, which seems like a lot until you use Stanza or the iPhone Kindle reader.
The typography isn’t perfect, but it’s miles ahead of what you get with the other readers. Unlike the other readers I mentioned (and unlike the web browser you’re using to read this with), Eucalyptus hyphenates, which, sadly, is something of a rarity with digital text. Any typesetting system for print which did not hyphenate would be considered a toy, but, for some reason, if the text is displayed onscreen it’s considered perfectly excusable to leave that out. Even twenty years later.
The iPod Touch has a reasonably high-resolution screen, it fits in my pocket, and, because I already owned it, the only cost was the ten dollars for the reader software–which, as it turns out, is cheaper than buying Gibbon in hardcover.