Last night's crap weather in the Northeast gave me a good excuse to light the hopefully last fire of the Winter, open a bottle of wine and curl up with one of my favorite sailing works, Sailing Alone Around The World.
I had a second excuse as Natasha from eNotatedClassic.com, very kindly sent me the eNotated, Kindle versions of Johsua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World and Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. Natasha set it up so that the next time I synced my iPad they were automatically downloaded from the Kindle store on Amazon.
I enjoy reading books on my iPad. It's probably just the novelty. The eNotated versions are a real bonus. The eNotator of these two books, Chris Tomerson, is knowledgeable about the subject matter and selected the right things to notate. Basically he enotated things that needed further explanation such as a old nautical terms or unfamiliar expressions dating back to when the book was written. These are hyperlinked to notations in the appendix. It's a somewhat convenient way to flick back and forth and it significantly improved my enjoyment of these books.
Here is Chris talking about the eNotated Slocum ebooks they offer.
It did however leave me thinking that these ebooks are just scratching the surface on the potential of this medium. It was a little disruptive that the links to notes jumped to the appendix so that I had to hit the back-button to return to the page. It would have been so much better if this had been handled with a pop-up note on the page being read.
It felt that so much more could have been done to build on this great work. What if you could map Slocum's journey as he progresses, linking to a Google satellite view of a harbor being described?
What would be really cool, is if readers of the book could make their own enotes, sort of like a Wikipedia for great works like these. Like Wikipedia the notes would be self-policed.
It also got me thinking how awesome would it be if the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin series were enotated. The first time I read Master and Commander, I found it very hard to penetrate the 18th century nautical terms. In fact, I gave up and came back to it a few years later once I bought the glossary A Sea of Words that helped me navigate the series. This would be a perfect enotated classic - the combination of the whole O'Brian series with the accompanying glossary integrated into the book as you read it.