The Future of Reading

Clive Thompson has a small little piece in Wired this month about the Future of Reading. It’s a topic that I’ve been having lots of conversation around these days, especially after some of the trends I highlighted in my Finding the Phoenix talk.

There’s been a lot of rumors lately about Apple creating a new killer device for the ebook to rival the Kindle, and I think if they do (and it has full color screen and an extended battery life) then I think the E-Ink days are numbered. The evolution of the ebook will explode into a full blown cultural revolution.

I’ve played around with several ebook readers over the last few years (remember the rocket reader), but in the last few weeks I’ve taken even more notice. What got me most excited though was not the Kindle or even the new Sony reader, but rather the free Stanza iphone app. I loaded on my iTouch over two months ago. I love this little free reader (which btw way was acquired by Amazon and just a few weeks ago) that provides easy access to both free domain ebooks and popular pay-option titles, but what has been missing for me in any current portable device option out there is the ability to connect with the thoughts of others who are reading the same book. is a website that does exactly that by allowing you to both interact with the book annotations of others and also engage in online chat. I played around with the site today and I have to say that I’m really impressed. Although it took me a bit to figure out how to read the annotations and comments, I really like the ability to see what other people bring to the text. I think once the Kindle or Sony (or rumored iBook) incorporates this type of functionality into their ereader app, then the competition will be over, period. The future of reading will have been born.

Here’s some more screenshots and images related to this post:

PS: Don't forget to read Clive Thompson's piece, The Future of Reading (lots to think about here as to the impact on libraries)


Susan said...

I agree with Ms. Blowers about the revolutionary eBook technology. How convenient to be able to carry "textbooks", novels, etc. all in one device to chosen at will. I am an avid reader when I have time. I am afraid that I would miss turning the pages of a paper book however.
Susan B.
Graduate student

Anonymous said...

I disagree regarding e-ink days are numbered. E-ink serves a different purpose than a standard computer display. In reading a book, frequent (second to second) screen updates are not required as with computer displays. This works well for e-ink as once the power is applied to display text, power is not needed until until the next display refresh. Computer displays require constant power to maintain the content on screen. Also, computer displays require backlighting, which increases the power requirements compared to e-ink. Even if Apple offered an extended battery, say 16 hours of usage, this still doesn't come close to the week and a half that e-ink devices can offer. As a side effect, e-ink causes less eye strain as much closer to standard paper format, allowing for longer reading periods without stress. I believe that Apple will offer a very useful device, but e-ink will still have a place in the market.