No, this isn’t about the latest television dramatisation of Emma (though actually, I thought it was really rather good, and Romola Garai as Emma was terrific). Rather, this is about reading Austen again, this time on an iPod Touch, using the Eucalyptus app.
Of course, I read more and more logic and philosophy onscreen: my MacBook Air has an amazing screen, and that’s a pretty comfortable experience. But I’ve not been minded to read novels onscreen before, let alone on the tiny iPod screen: I too much like the look and feel of real hardback books. Still, I saw a recommendation for Eucalyptus which you can use to freely download classic lit. from Project Gutenberg, and which then formats the text files rather elegantly. There’s nice eye candy too — a rather cool “page turn” as you flick your thumb across the screen — but it is the beautiful font and screen layout that make this miles better for reading than anything else I’ve tried on the iPod Touch. And, to my surprise I found myself reading the whole of Emma on the small screen — in bed (where you wouldn’t take the MBA), at breakfast, in cafés, on trains, wherever, over the last week. I had the novel with me all the time, and it is surprising the number of opportunities for reading there are in a day.
Anyway, if you have the iPod Touch or iPhone and have resisted the idea of using it to read classical novels onscreen — obviously it is only out-of-copyright books that are freely available like this — try Eucalytpus. You might be very pleasantly surprised too.
(Needless to say, Emma was sheer delight.)