Touchy, Touchy: Links in Ereaders

I don’t care all that much for touchscreens. I love my Kindle Paperwhite and am enchanted with the Kindle Fire, but the touchscreens? Not so much. It’s ingrained in me to keep my greasy fingers off glass–the tv, monitors, windows, cabinet doors–and I’ve spent a lifetime cleaning greasy fingerprints off glass. A part of me recoils at the idea of using my fingers on a glass screen. I haven’t figured out how to read one-handed either. I have to use one hand to hold the device and the other to manipulate the screen. And there are the cats, who love to interfere with my reading to the extent that little paws are always sneaking around to explore whatever device I’m holding.

Given the manual dexterity of my kids, their fingers flying and twitching over tiny smartphone screens, I imagine they laugh at my preference for buttons. So my personal problems aside, touchscreens are here to stay.

One area that really drives me nuts, though, and I doubt I’m the only one, are hyperlinks. I use the tables of contents*** in ebooks, and when I’m using the Kindle Fire, I like to follow links around the internet–that puppy is fast! What I don’t like is when the links are so close together it’s hit or miss as to whether I touch the right one. I also don’t like touching them accidentally. You know, reading along, touch to turn the page, then zip, I’m somewhere else in the ether. I suppose with practice that won’t happen as often. I hope.

The problem with tables of contents will remain. I’ve started increasing the line spacing whenever I have a list of links. Not a lot–unless one has elephant foot sized finger pads, even a millimeter or two can make all the difference.

Look at these tables of content side by side. The difference in line spacing isn’t major, but with the ToC on the left, I have a tendency to want to go to, say, Chapter 12 and end up on Chapter 13 instead. The slight difference in spacing in the ToC on the right eliminates the problem.

link2The Kindle Fire defaults with wide spacing (if the ebook is built properly) so lists of links aren’t much problem for less than dextrous fingers. Not so in the Paperwhite. I’ve started adding space around links to author websites and other links. Again, the difference is subtle, but it does help.

link1It’s a small touch, but given that many readers who’ve turned to ebooks are in an older demographic and their fingers aren’t as adept as the young’uns are, spacing the links can be helpful.

I’ll figure out the greasy fingerprint problem another day.

***Tables of Contents for a novel? Yay or nay? Even though a properly built toc.ncx (the internal table of contents that allows the device to jump from section to section) serves as an excellent table of contents on some devices, it doesn’t show up on every device. A table of contents doesn’t take much time to build, it doesn’t take up much space, and it’s one more thing to make navigating the ebook easier. My vote is Yay, always include a table of contents.