As much as I would love to keep mucking around with my writing and drawing until I go back to uni (middle of July), it will soon be time for me to start working on my fantasy eBook prototype for my thesis.
I want it to address some of the problems people commonly have with fantasy books. For example, some readers of large fantasy books complain that it is too difficult to keep track of different characters, especially if they have similar names (though this is probably more of an issue with the actual writing than with the format itself). Others find themselves lost in the fantasy world, unable to follow where the characters are travelling (some fantasy books provide maps, but it can be annoying to have to flip back and forth between the map and your current chapter, so many readers don’t bother and choose to simply “go along” with it). There are also those who have trouble imagining what the places and characters actually look like (again, this is sometimes more of an issue with the writing), and wish for at least some visual representation of the world they are exploring. Since eBooks have the capacity for interaction, it should be easy enough to come up with features to reduce or remove these problems. Some features I’ve already come up with include:
- Pop-up glossary.
- Ability to click and hold a character name for more information, eg. click for name, pronounciation and picture, hold for brief description.
- Ability to click and hold a place name for a pop-up map, eg. click for basic map showing borders, towns and landmarks, hold for more detailed view of terrain.
I’m aiming to have it ready for user testing by week 1 or 2 of second semester, so I’ll be spending the last three weeks of my mid-year break working on it. I suppose there are heaps of awesome features I could potentially include in my prototype – and would, if I had more time – but I’d rather it have a few well-implemented features than a bunch of features that are a bit buggy or don’t really add that much to the reading experience.
Anyway, now I shall throw it open to anyone who happens to read this blog. What problems do you have when reading printed fantasy books, if any? Are there any features you would like to see in a fantasy eBook that you think would make reading it easier or more enjoyable?