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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Reading fiction on or offline

bethbethbeth had a poll about saving stories. It made me wonder about reading them on line in general.

Poll #557098 Chapters vs. Single Pages

How long have you been reading fanfiction online?

Just started this year
13(4.7%)
Five years or less
130(46.8%)
5 to ten years
111(39.9%)
Ten years plus
20(7.2%)
I don't read fan fiction.
4(1.4%)

How do you prefer to read it?

Online
202(73.5%)
Offline but on my computer
20(7.3%)
On my pda
5(1.8%)
Printed on paper
13(4.7%)
A combination of things - see comments
30(10.9%)
Still not reading fanfiction
5(1.8%)

When it comes to long online stories, do you prefer:

In chapters as it was written
127(45.7%)
In two or three large chunks
27(9.7%)
All on one page
73(26.3%)
It depends: see comments
12(4.3%)
No preference
35(12.6%)
Once again, not reading
4(1.4%)

Why do you prefer that method of posting?

Ticky?

Ticky!
36(14.5%)
Tickytickyticky
66(26.5%)
Tik-tok
38(15.3%)
I don't do ticky boxes, either
32(12.9%)

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Comments
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I also prefer to get things in one part because I don't like to read WIPs and I've worked my way through a story before and then found it was a WIP and hadn't been labelled or signposted as such.

I don't like reading stories online, I'm not sure why, it may be because when we first went online it was on pay-per-minute so I learnt to be frugal. Which is also why I'm really bad at feedback because the recipient isn't *right there*, I have to search them out and I'm lazy so I don't!

Oh, I'm awful at feedback. Which is probably one of the reasons I don't get as much as some. Karma, you know?

I wonder if reading online is also physically difficult?

I like reading on line if the story is short. I prefer printed or on my pda if the story is long.

Format really depends -- I read online if I'm sitting in front of the machine for extended periods; I read on my handheld for commuting reading; I'll print out if I'm expecting to not be online for extended periods. I'll also print out stories that read best in hard copy (there are stories that have formatting that don't translate well to handheld).

I'm not overly picky about chapters vs. chunks vs. all one page, as long as I can make it manageable if I'm doing it in my handheld. I've got lots of capacity, but sometimes the really, really long stories don't translate cleanly to handheld format.

I find that iSilo can handle some chaptered stories *if* the link is at the bottom of the page, and I've also found that I can make up a page of links to download with iSilo for some stories, but there are archives that make that impossible and I end up pasting a story together.

(And paper, of course, has the advantage of being useful on Shabbat and Yom Tov.)

For HP fic I generally prefer to read it on-line the first time. If I like the story well enough to re-read I'll print it out, bind it like a book, and take it along with me to read when I have a few spare moments.

It doesn't bother me to sit in front of a screen and read for hours at a time. But I'm on dial-up (nothing else is available where I live) and I hate to tie up the phone lines since other people live here and I try not to be outrageously selfish. If a fic is posted all on one page I can read and my daughter can still be connected to the outside world.

My husband has set up a minibookbindery. He doesn't like reading on line (yes, he reads fanfic. He's a Cassie Claire fan, and he's discovered the world of gen SG1 and HL stories. He'll also read slash if and only if I recommend it. Or write it.) so he makes up little books that fit in his pocket. But he'll do it at work where there are paper cutters and such.

My favorite is the zine format. I'm old-fashioned.
Barring that, I'll read on-line.

I like long stories in 2-3 chunks. I hate getting caught in the middle of a WIP.

Zines. Paper you can curl up with! Sometimes edited I remember those.

Chunks absolutely have their advantages, and my pda seems to like them.

I said "see comment" on the question about why I prefer long stories all on one page. So, hey, here's the comment.

First, I should note that that isn't *always* true. If we're talking about something that's 200k words, well, that likely should be in chapters. But if it's even remotely reasonable to do so, I like the story to be all on one page. Reasons include, but are not limited to:

1. I use the scroll bar to track the length of the story and where I am in it, and it's important to me to be able to do that. If, for example, something terrible is happening in the story, the scroll bar becomes my reassurance that the author still has time to resolve this terrible thing - or it warns me that there isn't enough space left, which braces me for a tough ending. If the plot pacing and the arcs don't match the scroll bar progress, I get slightly antsy, wondering if there's some big surprise coming up, or if the author is going to do a late-story derail, or if this is an unlabeled work in progress (or if it's one of those works in progress that the author thinks is done). When I read books, I know how much longer until the end. I want to know that online, too.

2. It's easier to bookmark and recommend a story that appears all on one page. (If the story is too long for that, well, recommenders love authors who have jump pages for their series and novels. For the record.) I know that at least one person will not see the continuation link at the bottom of a split story (assuming there is a continuation link; there isn't always, which is yet another reason I'd rather stories not be split) - so I have to decide if I should link to all the sections. (Answer: no, but I might warn if the continuation link is easier to miss.) And, seriously, I've bookmarked the first page of split stories and come back to find (or found out on my first read-through) that only that first page is still working, which is just insanely frustrating. If it's all there, I don't have to worry about any of this.

3. A lot of authors do not understand the effect that splitting stories has on the reader. People divide the story into, say, three roughly equal parts, and don't realize that a split is a fairly major piece of punctuation, so to speak - that it puts a very aggressive full stop under the last line on that page. So there's this jarring feeling when I click to the next chapter and find out - whoa, wait, this *isn't* the next chapter. It's still the last one. And now I have to page back to see if this transition makes sense, because it was *so* not what I was expecting.

Also, I don't understand the point of splitting stories. I get why people do it on LJ - works in progress, posting character limits - but we expect and accept that things will be rougher here. But there are archives that require you to hit a link for every single page, by which I mean - read 500 words, hit a link. Repeat ad nauseum. Why?

So, basically, to me there are good reasons not to split and no good reasons to split. The single one that I can think of - load time - is antiquated; a text-only story should not take long to load, even on dialup, no matter how long it is.

I have a problem with the post-in-chapters thing, because it only encourages long,long works with tiny chapters that never get edited into a coherent whole. I've done it myself (thinking about Lupin/Snape story series.)

I feel that if people were encouraged to post stories in one piece, as it were, we'd have less of that. Or not. :)

And, yes, I agree with you about the chapters, and that then you don't know how long the story is.

Since I started having dsl and not a dial-up connection, I am online once my computer is on anyway, so I mostly read online as well, but I do transfer fanfic to my pda, especially to read stuff while commuting/travelling. Back when I didn't have a pda I printed out fanfic much more often, but these days I rarely do that.

I answered that I like long stories in one file, which is true when it's a finished story, though other formats won't prevent me from giving a story a try, however for WIPs, which I like as well, the posting in chapters is more convenient, because it's easier to find and read the newest part only.

I can see how chapters are useful for WsIP. I've been using my PDA for commuting, though, and it's made a tremendous difference.

If I have time to read online, I do, but if I don't I like reading on my PDA. That way I always have something to read.

Sometimes I read in chunks or chapters as posted. I depends on my mood.

It's good having the options, though.

In response to "How do you prefer to read it," I clicked "Printed on paper." (Preferably curled up on the couch, with a cat napping next to me.) However, the way I prefer to read and the way I most often actually read aren't identical. In practice, I mostly read new stories on-line. Printing them out first takes extra time and attention (as well as lots of paper and ink).

I read on paper on the Sabbath and Holidays, but more and more I read on my PDA the other times. (And lately, of course, our printer has been offline because of the harddrive problems,so I can't print at home and I'm loathe to use office equipment. I purchase the supplies; I know how much they cost.) But it's nice getting into a comfortable position instead of sitting up straight.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Choice is key.

Possibly courtesy as well, but if the writer herself is more comfortable reading chapters on line, she's going to post that way out of her own courtesy.

How I like to read mostly depends on the length of the story, and how optimistic I'm feeling about it. Longer stories by authors I like always get downloaded to the PDA, so I can read them wherever. Sometimes I'll start a longer story online, and if I really get into it I'll download it. Shorter stories I'll usually read online, but if I like them a lot I'll download them so I can re-read them easily. I'm totally not a zine person. And I don't read WIPs, so I have no use for chapter-by-chapter postings.

Sister! That's pretty much my reading style.

The other point, though, is that at home I share the desktop with my husband, and he deserves to get to use it *sometimes*. If I do all my reading online, that's bad.

But I do stuff my pda full.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

*Mourns the poor dead PDA.* When I lost mine, we replaced it right away.

I agree about the flow. (Wonders when we stopped calling 200K+ stories "novels.")

I read on a variety of ebooks. I only read short stuff online, and rarely. I only read on my pda when I can't carry one of my ebooks. The Rocket is my fave, that's what I read on at home, but it's bulky and hard to replace, so it doesn't leave the house. The Hiebook is my second fave, and that one leaves the house. It's also smaller.

I don't like million chapter linked fics, because I have to cut and paste them into one file to get the most out of them. And I just about never read WIPs, they're often not finished, and it's a lot of effort to keep track of where they're being posted, especially if I were following a lot of them. So I wait till they're finished and do all the cut-and-paste if necessary then.

I dislike WsIP. I've been known to read them, but only if I think there's a fair chance they'll get finished.

At this point, I'd also be happy if they organized multichapter stories so they're easy to d/l on the pda.

#1- Dear god, has it been ten years already? O.O

#2- I have dialup, so while I like to read stories online, it sometimes isn't feasible. Often I open up all chapters of a story in Mozilla (or sometimes, if I know I won't be able to get online for a few days (god forbid) save them to disk), and then read them offline.

#3- I prefer chapters to large hunks or one large file, because I rarely ever am able to read a loooong fic in one sitting. Chapters help me keep track of where I am in the story. I've read tons of 200-pages-in-one-file fics, and it's damn near impossible to find the exact point you left off.

Yeah, I know. I feel old.

Wait. I am old.

That last reason is the most understandable when it comes to chapters. I think there are ways of managing that offline on a computer, though. Certainly pdas make it possible.

I like reading long stories all on page because that way I can really dig in. A chapter break is a fairly serious "stop, get out of the story, you have to press this button now."

It's different than when reading a book, because you're always turning pages when reading, it's not even something you really notice anymore. And when I read, I almost never notice I've started a new chapter anyway.

I tend to dig into books/fic enough that when I'm reading someone will have to say something 2 or 3 times for me to hear them. So, when I'm reading a longfic and there's a break that takes me to another page, it's like I was going 75 mph down the highway and then suddenly had to slam on the brakes. It completely drags me out.

Granted, if the author is doing that on purpose, it's something else entirely, but I'm still not fond of it. I don't care if it's 800k, give it to me on one page with one teeny scrollbar.

...plus, I tend to use scrollbar size to judge length, since I prefer to start stories I only have time to finish in one sitting, and multi-chaptered stories are deceiving.

Yes, I feel very much this way, too. Also, it's easier to save a story if it's all on one page!

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