design proposal for ipod-based e-book reader 06.18.2007, 2:43 AM
posted by ben vershbow
I got an email the other day from the fellow who made this: an interesting proposal and, incidentally, a clever use of Google SketchUp for modeling gadgets.
The central thesis is that, unlike the Sony Librie or other tablets currently available, a dual-screen reader with a dock for the iPod is the most viable design for a) popularizing the use of an ebook reader and b) streamlining the use of an ebook store.
He's interested in getting feedback so leave your two cents.
dan visel on June 18, 2007 8:17 AM:
It's definitely an interesting business model, though maybe more of interest to Apple than to anyone else?
I'm struck, though, as I am more and more in discussion of ebook devices, that there's no mention made of input devices: the ebook reader is presented as an output device for text, just as an iPod is an output device for music. If there are advantages to reading texts electronically, it's from the ability to interact with them: the power to search, to annotate, and to cross-reference (and, in a networked setting, to interact with other readers and writers). I'm not convinced that something that's simply a electronic book reader is useful: print books, for all their bulk, have worked very well for a long time, in part because they can be marked up. With a print newspaper or magazine, you can even tear out an article for later use or to give to someone else. Until book reader producers start thinking about how reading works, they're only going to capture a niche market.
bowerbird on June 18, 2007 1:02 PM:
> If there are advantages to reading texts electronically,
> it's from the ability to interact with them:
that's one advantage of electronic texts.
it's not the only one. it's not even the major one,
in my opinion. the major one is the ability to
access a text from any place that has internet access.
and that's only going to become a major benefit
if we scale it up so any person can obtain _any_ text.
and the content cartel will have things to say about that.
> the power to search, to annotate, and to cross-reference
> (and, in a networked setting, to interact with
> other readers and writers).
don't get me wrong: interaction is neat. but access is king.
> I'm not convinced that something that's simply
> a electronic book reader is useful:
> print books, for all their bulk, have worked very well
> for a long time, in part because they can be marked up.
i'm glad you said "in part". but i'd say not a big part.
> Until book reader producers start thinking about how reading works,
> they're only going to capture a niche market.
even if e-book machines improve on every functionality
of the paper-book, and capture all possible audience,
it's _still_ going to be "a niche market".
because books themselves are "a niche market"...
they're vitally important, mind you, but in a niche.
i'd love to see an ipod accessory like the one shown
in the video. although i think a lot of people might
freak when they learned the price of such an animal,
and it'd be doomed by the absence of sufficient buyers.
anyway, steve jobs is off in the music and film arenas,
and i'd guess books are just too small a niche for now.
which is not to say that e-books won't be read on the iphone.
my web app that delivers e-books should run just fine on it.
guest on June 20, 2007 12:13 PM:
You're right, this design did not address interactivity - but it could easily be incorporated using the multi-touch screen technology seen on the iPhone. I imagine facilities allowing readers to search their whole libraries for forgotten quotes, search books for specific pieces of information, bookmark pages, highlight text and save it into folders, record voice notes via a built-in microphone, then attach them to specific passages...any number of options, really. Developing an ebook whose "brain" is actually a dockable, 80gb iPod (which already has a CPU and sophisticated firmware) would make the development of interactive features that much easier.
Timothy Murray on June 21, 2007 9:43 AM:
This idea is astounding. And Parts of it are very similar to work I have been doing in the publishing industry.
The first thing that I would add: The default format for the content should be unencrypted. If the thing can be used to render PDF there will be a lot of good content ready to deliver.
Second, No DRM. Instead cut books into files that are only a single chapter. This makes the redistribution by mostly honest people annoying enough that they will remember that people should buy their own.
Third, instead of DRM put access control on the ability to download in the first place. When someone buys the book it will act like a podcast subscription, They will be subscribed to a an RSS feed with enclosures except that instead of mp3 enclosures they will be .pdf or .ebml files.
This might make Apple the book store of choice but anyone capable of putting an RSS for the book and controlling access to the enclosures could enter the market. The key here is to keep DRM out and simplify the file typs for display. Re-flowable text is definitely valuable but this is not the issue which is preventing widespread adoption. DRM and proprietary display software are.
By the way the RSS Approach with delivery of chapter files will work well for magazine subscription content as well.
bowerbird on June 23, 2007 12:53 AM:
saw an "iflip" from memorex at a store tonight...
$150 gets you an 8.4" portable video player with
a cradle-dock for your ipod like the mockup here...
the screen doesn't get very good reviews, but still.
worth checking out...
Steven Harris on June 29, 2007 8:36 PM:
Dumb idea. Just because Apple has slayed the digital music world doesn't mean I want to be roped into buying an iPod or buying ebooks from that bloody awful iTunes store. Ugh. Why invent a device that needs some other device to work properly anyway? All that aside, I like the notion of a "two-page" ebook reader.
D. M. Crane on December 14, 2009 1:25 AM:
I have MS and my eyes tire very easily ! The Kindle 2 has made reading possible again for me. It is nice to be able to read a newspaper. I just increase the print size and when my eyes get tired I turn on the voice and let it read to me! Since I do not drive anymore, having access to books by wire is really super! Thank you, Amazon for giving me back the joy of reading!