The Perfect E-book Reader

Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m sure people are giving their bibliophile loved ones Amazon Kindles or Barnes and Noble Nooks as gifts. There are still some flaws with these devices though. This begs the question, what would the perfect e-book reader look like? What features would it have? Well, the perfect e-book reader…

  • Can do more than just read e-books – E-book readers need web access. In this world of multitasking and shortened attention spans an e-book reader that can only read e-books fails. The average person only reads four books per year. This makes devices dedicated solely to e-books into toys for gadget geeks or people that read voraciously. A device that only reads e-books is still playing to a small market. Also it would be useful while reading an e-book to look up a fact on Wikipedia or share a quote you just read on Twitter.
  • Has multi-touch technology – Instead of having buttons to turn a page simply touch the upper corner of the page, or gesture¬†across¬†the screen like you’re turning a page. If you want to zoom in on an image within a book simply pull your fingers apart around it (similar to the iPhone’s technology). This would certainly enhance the experience of reading an e-book.
  • Reads multiple formats – The perfect e-book reader would be able to read any format in which books happen to be, whether it’s in HTML, PDF, a Google Book, e-books from Amazon, e-books from library subscription databases, etc.
  • Allows you to write in the margins – Like regular books, the perfect e-book reader would allow you to write in the margins and personalize your copy of the book. The reason we love books is because we form personal connections to them. We write notes to ourself and try to interact and have a conversation with the book. The perfect e-book reader would allow you to highlight passages and attach notes to them. It would also allow you to share these notes if you wanted. Then we really could start having conversations with our books.
  • Is readable for long periods of time – It would have to use something like e-ink which more closely mimics a paper reading experience than a backlit LCD display and causes less eyestrain. The device would also have a long battery life. At least enough to make it through an entire book.

Some of these features are possible and in use, but there is still some growing that needs to take place in both technology for a device and e-book standards, practices and legal issues. To create the future, though, we first have to dream it. What else is needed for a perfect e-book reader?


Keep ‘em Coming Back For More

Little things make a difference.


I got my hair cut today at Gentleman’s Top Option today in Burlington Vermont. Normally I’m the sort of guy who goes for the no frills, ten dollar hair cut. But I’d gotten a string of bad ones and I was sick of looking (more) like a goon. So under a recommendation from a good friend I tried a new place and I’m never looking back.

The reason? The experience was so much better. First I got a much better haircut — it was a better product. For some reason things just seem better when you have a haircut that you like. Second, the experience of getting the haircut was superior. At GTO I got my hair shampooed and my head massaged. I got a hot towel and a straight razor shave on my neck. At my last ten dollar haircut, the barber talked about his gout. Seriously.

It seems to me that a product that people want paired with a meaningful, memorable, pleasant experience will keep folks coming back. So, how do libraries do something like this? We have products people want: web access, books, DVDs, help with research (it’s different for every library). Now how do we deliver those products in a meaningful way and create an experience that will make people keep coming back?

I think some of it has to do with the very personal service we deliver. Sometimes it is something simple like a smile or going a little above and beyond to find some piece of information. It could be something like offering food during finals week to keep people’s energy up. But I think a lot of it has to do with the service and caring that you are giving to patrons.

What do you think? How doing we create experiences that make people want to come back, and maybe even recommend our service to others?


A Social Media Tool for Busy Librarians [VIDEO]

A valid concern that I’ve heard about using social media in libraries is “how do I find the time time to maintain a social media presence?” Librarians can be stretched pretty thin with their workload, or sometimes there are only one or two people running a library. Maintaining a social media presence takes time and commitment. It can be very difficult to regularly post Facebook page updates, fresh tweets, and new blog posts. This is where work flow comes in. There are technologies available to help even the busiest librarians post regularly to their social media accounts with ease.

One simple way to save time and make sure that you post regularly is to schedule tweets and posts. The best tool I have found to do that is HootSuite. HootSuite allows you to connect to both your library Twitter account and Facebook page and easily update them both from one web-based application. In addition HootSuite gives you the option to schedule your posts for sometime in the future.

Scheduling posts makes it easier to post regularly without the hassle of doing it every day. A librarian can take a half an hour once a week to write a research tip of the day and posts about multiple upcoming events, schedule them, and have posts coming out every day that week. This even makes it possible to post on weekends when you’re not actually around.

This is a very useful tool for already overtaxed librarians, yet it shouldn’t be the only thing you use. You also have to answer your patrons when they post on your wall or @mention you. And don’t let scheduled posts kill spontaneity either. Spontaneous posts are the often some of the best and most authentic. It’s necessary to find a good balance, but scheduling posts can be a very helpful practice in dealing with social media work flow.

Here’s a very brief video showing how to use HootSuite to schedule your posts.