Monday, February 22, 2010

7. Stanza

It’s been over four months since the last EOTW entry. Rather than bore you with the details of that period, we’ll simply try posting weekly again.

A number of topics were considered for this week’s post. We decided to choose one that’s unlike than anything that we’ve discussed before: an application.

How we discovered Stanza:

Several months ago, we read Nicholson Baker’s article on the Kindle in the New Yorker. Baker was unimpressed with the Kindle, but he seemed to enjoy reading ebooks on his iPod Touch. He mentioned a variety of reading applications, including Stanza. (His favourite application was Eucalyptus, which we haven’t tried yet.) Recently, we downloaded Stanza and have added a handful of free ebooks (via Project Gutenberg) to our library.

Why Stanza is worth using:

Stanza is a joy to use, largely because it’s so intuitive. Click on the right edge of the screen to turn the page. To turn back a page, click on the left edge of the screen. Click in the middle of the screen to see how much of the book you’ve read, to change the settings (e.g., to change the font or font size), to search in the book, or to go back to the list of titles in your library. You can also adjust the brightness of the screen by clicking in the middle of the page and slowly dragging your finger down (to darken) or up (to brighten).

We primarily use Stanza for reading before bed. (So far, we have read 27% of Moby-Dick!) When we get tired, we can simply turn off the device and place it next to the bed. The next time Stanza is opened, it displays the last page we were reading.

One of the only wrinkles in our Stanza-joyment is that when you turn the iPod Touch sideways, the letters on the screen (predictably) display horizontally. Therefore, you can’t put your head on the pillow and place the iPod Touch horizontally on the bed because the letters will look sideways. You have to angle the device diagonally. No matter. This is a small convenience for such a great application. Did we mention it’s free?

We tried to film a brief in-action video of Stanza. However, our camera isn't very good at focusing on objects that are under a foot away. So, here's a brief video we've grabbed from YouTube that sounds like it may have been narrated by Robert Forster (thanks butterscotchcom!):