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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Kindle and e-books

Just before Christmas I got my Kindle, a device I was really looking forward to using. I wanted to wait for the international edition arriving in UK. I wanted the full experience.

Having read electronic books on my Newton in mid-nineties, I knew the benefit of one-hand operation. I love books and buy a fair amount of books, always visit book stores on my travels. I would not consider myself a book luddite. For me books are about the content primarily, and secondarily they are nice decoration assets. There are few rooms I like more than a library. I love the library I have in our new home with Lu.

Unfortunately books are only fairly good user interfaces. Their benefits are long battery life, good screen contrast, fabulous browsing, visually glanceable bookmarking. Drawbacks are two-hand operated, heavy, big, un-ecological. This point can be debated I am sure.

I had the same experience reading on the kindle as many others had. You forget about the device and the content takes your imagination away. Eventhough Sofia, my 12 year old bonus daughter says she hates books, and reading for that matter, I do think that reading is something fundamental to us. Be it fiction or fact it does stretch the mind as it forces out visualisations in the mind. It is still one of the best ways to learn.

The Kindle and other e-books have some powerful benefits: they are small, light. A dictionary is few clicks away. You can have lots of different books with you, in fact you can have your whole library in your bag. If that is not big enough you can have the whole Amazon store at your fingertips. What I did enjoy most was the one-handed effortless usage of reading and clicking next page. I think this benefit is of similar value as cutting the wire of the telephone, when phones got mobilised, first into cordless and later into cellular. In my mind these are the transformation benefits, when one user experience paradigm renders the older user experience into history. I think we will see the same transformation of media in the next ten years as we saw when the CD became MP3’s. As books have far greater decoration value than CD’s I think the transformation will be slower and books will evolve.

01:21 PM | Permalink

Comments

Hi Christian. Very keen comparison of the user interface of a book and electronic reading devices. I think it is a good way to look at it, and I think that as soon as a device is up to par with a book in terms of user interface (which many people think that the Kindle is), people will switch as the additional benefits of carrying a massive storage/collection vs carrying books, and the constant acces to a book store like Amazon comes into play. I think it is solely a question of the price hitting the mainstream tipping point now for proliferation.

Another thing that interests me is the constant discussion of whether the iPhone/cell phone will simply be your e-reader, rather than having a dedicated device. I for one do not think so at all, as the demands/specs for a great /ellphone are so vastly different from that of an e-book.

A cellphone needs a back-lit (so it works in the dark), colour screen with very high update/frame rate and strong CPU/graphics (i.e. capable of high quality video playback) that should be as small as possible (so it fits in your pocket and you can hold it to your ear without looking too stupid) while still doing it's job ok. All these aspects are more important than e.g. screen resolution and battery life as the common use case is to look at the screen for about 30 seconds - 5 minutes a time, then it powers down.

The e-book reader on the other hand has very different demands and use cases, it should have a large screen, where colour, update/frame rate, 3D graphics performance etc is all less important than high contrast, high resolution and very long battery life as you look at it for hours on end. This means that a large, high res screen which is reflective, rather than back-lit, and a low power CPU, giving massive contrast and at the same time crazy battery life is much better.

I don't think these two sets of specs are possible to combine well (at an affordable price and reasonable form factor) in the near future. I think it is the case of the Swiss army knife vs your chef knife. Even if the Swiss army knife has a blade to cut stuff with, you still go and buy a chef knife to cook dinner with if you're the least interested in making food, it's just a much better experience.....

Posted by: Gustav at Jan 10, 2010 11:25:05 AM

Thanks. What do you think about what I have so far?

Posted by: Bunk Bed Mattresses at Aug 29, 2010 7:52:11 PM

Now a days there are so many ebooks readers. ebook reader is very safe and easy to find any books an easily. I am also regular reader of ebooks, I like your suggested views about the ebooks.

Posted by: php hosting at Feb 18, 2011 11:54:30 AM

I don't want to meet people you copy, instead of to the efforts of the author. As long as you want in the format of the dead there, and I don't see a point to remove a drm information. Also, I like this article, not the cable. How to do it, you don't need to say where the information, not just this or that, and it is enough to say that this can be done.

Posted by: Mens Shirts at Apr 20, 2011 8:22:57 PM

Reading is my hobby. And I read so many offline and online books. Your shared advice is very best for getting good knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Black and Mild Cigars at Apr 29, 2011 10:28:46 AM