Archives for: May 2009


Permalink 10:31:53, by Eric Baber Email , 448 words, 4468 views   English (EU)
Categories: Thoughts

Of eBooks and eBook Readers

What with all of the recent hoopla regarding the recently-announced new Kindle DX I've had various conversations about eBooks and eBook readers. There are a number of things that I find so obvious I'm surprised nobody else has addressed them (though maybe they have and I haven't noticed). Here are some of them:

  • The concept of eBooks is great (convenience of transport, ability to annotate etc) but the implementation of dedicated eBook Reader devices just isn't there yet. Page turning is too slow, annotation clumsy because the input capabilities are limited and first-generation etc.
  • The dedicated eBook Reader device (of whatever manufacturer) is a very transient phenomenon, or at best a niche one in the long run. Everything is heading towards convergence: instead of having to carry around more, we all want to carry around less, but while being able to do more. At the moment we have to carry around a laptop or netbook for web browsing, e-mailing, working on files etc; a mobile phone for making phone calls and listening to music; and now we're supposed to buy an eBook Reader device as well which only lets us read text (well, some let us listen to music as well, but.) And the prices of eBook Readers given their functionality is far too high. What I foresee in the next 3 - 7 years is this: laptops and netbooks with dual screens - one backlit one like they have now for fancy graphics in full colour, and a second one with e-ink technology that is far better on the eyes, for extensive reading. A side benefit of that would be that if you use the e-ink screen battery life is significantly longer - always a good thing on a netbook or laptop. The limitation on those at the moment is that they only do black, white and shades thereof - but that's going to change in, at most, 5 - 10 years when we'll have full-colour e-ink screens. At that point we'll go back to having one screen. In any event, the sole USP of eBook Readers - screens that are better on the eyes - will be wiped out as soon as there are netbooks on the market that do everything we want to do on the move.

    Refinements will be in there too - making the screen foldable and unfoldable, meaning the device will get smaller while the viewable screen size will get larger; being able to switch the device from read-only to full-input mode, for prolonged battery life; accelerometer and touchscreen capabilities; integrating mobile telephony into the devices; etc.

I guess the main thing that I'm surprised about is the amount of hype that is generated around devices that I consider limiting, transient, and vastly over-priced.

Eric Baber's blog

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