Wishes for a better e-reading experience

Likebook mars ebook reader

I was listening/reading My wish for a better device for reading and enjoying books. I found it a interesting read with some good points

I’ve been thinking that I don’t want to settle with a simple e-reader anymore. I want more. I want an all-new gadget that’s dedicated to enhancing my reading experience.

This is why I ended up buying the Likebook Mars. It was time for something new which was a pleasure to read. Especially since the latest update which dropped a few days ago.

I understand that among the things that make an e-reader so successful is the e-ink display. But the Kindle also works well because its a less distracting device. But even then I’ve often found myself holding my Kindle in one hand and checking my smartphone notifications in the other.

This is something I imagine lots of people struggle with. Having a Android device in your hand is tricky because the temptation is to put a lot of apps on the device and make it a duplicate of the phone. But it simply doesn’t make sense to put a lot of the apps on the ereader. Try scrolling through a twitter feed on a e-ink screen is just painful. However respect to anyone who wants to give it a try for what ever reason.

Instead of limiting the capabilities of the device to make it free from distractions, we can choose our own distractions, ones that will keep us engaged with the device. Imagine an iPad with a dedicated reading mode, as part of the Screen Time feature, where you could turn off all distractions, and focus on reading. Or the device could have a “Reading Mode” where you could add reading and productivity apps…

Ideally the device would be capable of both an eink and LCD screen. This is why I found the Yota phone interesting and  although Goodereader wasn’t quite right about the trend for eink phones. It still could be a future trend with colour eink getting really good too.  Reading mode could simply be an adjustment rather than a mode. For example the Lenovo Thinkpad plus has a eink display on the lid.

…or a redesigned version of Goodreads, where you could engage with the community, and celebrate reading. If you wanted to take a break from reading a book, instead of checking your Facebook or Instagram, you could read articles or update your Goodreads. So you’d still have access to distractions, just better distractions.I want someone to redesign Spotify as a reading app, right now.

The idea of a goodreads or spotifiy for ereading can easily be dismissed but its actually important.

Once you get into the world of ereaders with standard android apps, you get the diversity of experiments and applications. Yes you can have your Amazon Kindle app on a android ereader but thats just the start. Its time for a better way to not just read but annotate, share and remix. The modes should work smoothly but due to the silo mentality of the different services we can’t rely on any changes from them. Why would Amazon do anything but the minimum for android devices?

While we already have subscription models for reading books and articles, and are listening to audiobooks, no one seems to be fighting Amazon or Apple for a share of the market. Maybe reading isn’t as big a market as music, or television, or even gaming. Or maybe the big players are not ready to look in this direction, yet. This could be about the size of the market, the potential for growth and a largely Amazon-dominated marketplace.

This is a market which could do with some changes but it will come from the smaller players. The same way authors like Cory Doctorow convinced his publisher to support some Creative commons versions of his books.

Unlock the ebooks and see things change I and others have been saying for a long long while. Its something which the author Sumit never actual mentions. Its the one thing which underpins everything he wishes for.

I was once at the World book fair for Oreilly’s Tools of change conference. One of the sessions I went to was about ebooks and their locked down DRM containers. In short DRM is a major killer and won’t get the creativity till its  restrictions are changed. There was so much hate given to Amazon for this reason.

Its clear DRM holds back so much of what ebooks could be and that effects the devices, the systems and ultimately the experience.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

7 thoughts on “Wishes for a better e-reading experience

  1. Interesting. I guess I would be installing the Android Microsoft RDC Client, remoting into my desktop computer and reading my Kindle books via “read.amazon.com”…

    1. Well thats one way to do it Brian. Not ideal when you want to switch between Audio and Text I think.

  2. I’ve been in the Kindle world for a long time and mostly liking the distraction free nature of it, but also its integration with GoodReads (which Amazon owns or has heavy investment in), book insights, and ease of use across most any device I have. The biggest downside is community around the books and ability to actually use my highlights and notes easily. Also DRM lock-in drives me nuts as I have a ton of books in Kindle format that I picked up on the $ .99 to $3.99 sales (many time they are books I also physically own and I have different reading and use patterns for the formats, so having both has value for me).

    Years back there was an utterly brilliant reader, ReadMill that not only had great reading experience, but its workflows and the use and reuse of highlights, notes and annotations was about as perfect as its gets. It also had a great reading community capability that got so much right that most do not grasp nor consider. I deeply miss it. It was purchased by Dropbox for the team and their good bye post brings a tear every time I read it – http://readmill.com

    1. I luckily dropped the Kindle a long time ago before I got invested in it. This is why I dropped instapaper too in favor of Wallabag.

      Been thinking theres got to be a way to recreate Goodreads using microformats and web mentions. To be fair I put the goodreads app on my ereader so I can start to use that more.
      Readmill sounded great, never heard of it before, shame its gone. Been wondering about the rights we have in the UK around library books, as there seems to be some apps which reflect the laws in the country they are?

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