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Book reading apps like iBooks, Kobo, Kindle etc. allow the user to change the background, foreground (most of these apps offer white, sepia and night themes), font face, font size, and even screen brightness in-app.

News reading apps like Flipboard or Reeder allow only the text's size to be changed.

Is there a reason for this difference in features? Would a news-reading app benefit from adding features available in a book reading app or are these features unnecessary?

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2 Answers 2

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The difference lies in the type of use these apps have.

Think about iBooks, Kindle, etc. Users will have the device in their hands for a long time because they are reading novels or long books - not always the case but it's the most frequent use case.

Flipboard, tends to show web articles that are relatively short - newspaper articles, blog extracts, etc. Users will just flick through them, reading pieces or articles. Perhaps read a couple on a train journey, a couple in the evening.

Book Reading apps require more customizing because they need better readability (reading at home, train, beach) for long periods of time. Flipboard type apps are used in short periods on time so the eyes won't get tired as they would by staring at a book page that has a long text.

So the extra features add value if the user will read for a long period of time and different environments.

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Couldn't agree more. Even if you add these features in a news reading app, the user might tweak them to his convenience once, but is unlikely to change them again. Whereas in the case of a book reading app, the user tends to switch between the 'profiles' according to his conditions several time. For example, If I am in a moving vehicle, I'll switch to a larger font size for better readability whereas if I am reading at night with the lights switched off, I will turn to the night mode. This is rarely the case with news reading apps. –  siddharthkp May 30 '13 at 14:49

The main difference is technology. iBooks are a document format. They are then viewed in a document reader app. The document format has some, but not a whole lot, of actual formatting information embedded. Most of the formatting happens in the reader application.

News apps tend to be custom built apps for the particular content. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. They do have a lot of formatting embedded.

Another difference is just the traditional form of the content. Books are linear and text only. News publications are fragmented and contain a lot more than just text.

The combination of the above two reasons means that it's simply more complex to build apps for news publications that give the same extent of type formatting customization that dedicated document formats for books can provide.

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