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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?