Pretending to be a medieval scholar

By | April 8, 2024

Today, I want to let you know about a tip that I discovered over the Easter break, when I was whiling away a rainy afternoon with a good book.

Since I was away from home, instead of filling up all my bag space with heavy paper books (which admittedly, I’ve done before and will probably do again), I decided to take my iPad to read some eBooks instead.  And as I was fiddling around with the settings trying to adjust the font size, I found a setting that I’d not seen before.

It’s called “Vertical Scrolling” in the Apple Books app, and “Continuous Scrolling” in the Kindle app, which you can get on any device.  Google Play Books doesn’t have this feature for some reason.

With vertical/continuous scrolling switched on, rather than “turning the page” by swiping on the screen or tapping on the right hand edge, the book is laid out like text on a website (or on a medieval scroll, if you’re feeling fancy!).  So when you finish what’s on the page, you swipe upwards to get more text appearing underneath, like you would if you were reading a news article or some other document.

To turn on vertical or continuous scrolling in either app is pretty straightforward – open the book that you’d like to read by tapping on the cover.  When it opens, tap in the middle of the screen to bring up some buttons around the edges.

Look for the “Aa” button and tap on that, then look for a switch labelled either Vertical Scrolling or Continuous Scrolling (you might have to tap on “Layout” first) and tap on that switch to turn it on.  If you aren’t a fan, then you can turn it off in exactly the same way.

It’s interesting, really – when e-readers first came out, the idea was to make them as similar to real books as feasibly possible, to try to persuade bookworms like me to try them out.  Now that things like smartphones and tablets have become more and more commonplace, it seems that the trend in eBooks is to make them feel more digital.

Continuous scrolling does feel somewhat similar to the “infinite scrolling” that was invented for social media like Facebook and Instagram, where you never actually reach the bottom of the screen, because it’ll just keep showing you more and more posts and adverts until you get bored.  Then when you put the phone or tablet down, you realise that you’ve wasted hours without even realising…

Of course, the key difference between continuous scrolling in an eBook and infinite scrolling on a social media app or website is that books aren’t typically endless (even if some series might feel that way).  Even the best stories will come to an end, so you can go make another cup of tea or do the laundry, or even go and download the sequel if it was a particularly good read…

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