Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Writer's eReader

As Black Friday approaches, I discover that I don't yet own an eReader. I undoubtedly will have totally converted within the next three years when they get better. As a consumer, I fall into three categories: Reader, Writer, and Adventurer, and I'll need the eReader I buy to be on board with all three of those things if I'm going to lug it around. It's got to, in other words, be a netbook killer (for the few things I, Writer and Adventurer, use a netbook for).

-$100(+$50 for accessories)
-always-on wireless included
-no monthly fee or service charges of any kind.

-dual color screens, opens like a book. I'll use the example of the Watchmen graphic novel since everybody's seen it.  I should be able to read that full-color graphic novel without scrolling and with a loading time the equivalent of a page-flip. Flexible screen a bonus.
-touch-screen, with an option to plug in a keyboard or use a stylus for handwriting.
-I can read clearly in the daytime or at night.
-durable. VERY durable. Jungle durable. Elephant sex adjacent durable.
-battery life, 24 hours in field conditions. So, the advertised claim will have to be at least 48 hours. 
-option for wired internet connection, including modem.
-option to connect to a desktop and sync everything quickly and easily, just as if it were another hard drive, no goofy interface software. Basically a flash drive.

-a good, smooth touch-screen interface.
-I can set one screen to be a Reading/Output screen and one screen to be a Writing/Input screen if I want, or I can use both screens like a traditional book.
-I can annotate anywhere in an ebook with the stylus and my drawings/notes/comments will be kept until I delete them and can be output to a text or image file.
-a web browser
-a text editor that outputs to .txt and/or .rtf. (such as q10) so I can type random thoughts.
-a voice recorder that outputs to an open source audio format (such as Audacity) so I can record random thoughts
-stylus input software and voice recognition software that saves as images or audio files or converts to .txt and .rtf to be edited by the text editor.

-supports all major file types, including Word .doc & .docx, .txt, .rtf and .pdf (etc.) so that I can read my own documents. I transfer from my computer or the wireless connection.
-supports and encourages an ebook file type that allows internal links inside the document, and heavy support for images. For example, I should be able to use the glossary in the back of a science textbook by clicking on the page numbers and being taken there immediately, and the images in that textbook should be clear and flexibly integrated with the text within a reasonable degree of user customization.

-DRM free. Me and my friends can read it anywhere on any platform, just like a real book. Ease of purchase and goodwill will prevent loss of sales. I'll take word-of-mouth advertising over annoying the customer every time. (People who would steal a book they actually liked weren't going to buy it in the first place, and if they didn't like it, well: they stole it, so they're not a dissatisfied customer.)
-No region-locking. Without any complicated workarounds, I can buy a book from anywhere in the world from which I can access the Internet, even if it's via satellite phone dial-up. Even if I wasn't in that country yesterday and have no permanent address there.

-Not manufactured by, supported by, sold by or otherwise associated with Apple in any way except for having the option to access the iBooks store.

We're not even close to being in Science Fiction territory here. It's just a matter of a few years of R&D and intelligent marketing. Make it happen, capitalism.

What's your ideal eReader? (Or, how close does your current eReader come to this standard?)


China, you are also strictly prohibited from attempting to convince me to buy your deficient product with cheap marketing ploys, overly bright backgrounds and fancy furniture.

I am not distracted by the sexy.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?



  1. I mean...what you're describing is just a tablet computer...I think of an eReader as a replacement for books, and as such, limited functionality is a bonus for me.

    To me, the primarily selling point of e-Readers was that they didn't have backlit screens and hence were actually as comfortable to look at for hours as a book.

    If I could browse the internet and play game and do all kinds of cool stuff on my e-Reader, I think it would detract from the isolation of the reading of the reading experience (my Kindle can theoretically browse the internet, which is fine when have absolutely no other way to access it, but the incredible slowness of the connection makes this a mostly theoretical capability)

  2. The one thing I really like about e-readers is that non-backlit thingy. I think I saw it on a Sony Reader. Anyway, the woman I work with who had the Sony reader ended up buying an iPad for her reading, instead; but I don't understand it. The main reason I don't do reading on my computer is because the screen wears me out. It's hard enough writing on a backlit screen, let alone reading...

    With that said, I think I would also want basically all the functionalities you mentioned, though, like Rahul said, I would use it primarily as book-replacement rather than computer-replacement. Unless this is just the 2010 Ben talking, and in three years I'll be singing a different tune.

    I mean, that's massively likely.

    Anyway, whenever I start reading books digitally (and I'll hold out as long as I can, because I like to smell spines), I hope my reader is not backlit.

  3. I'm not arguing for LCD-style backlight, but rather for better, color eInk with a "night mode" (or an improved OLED display). Something like that will certainly appear in the next three years. If not next year.

    What I'm describing is more a "clipboard" replacement, I suppose. But I do a lot of reading and noting and writing on the go, so I might as well have an all-in-one eReader.

    I'm adding one bonus feature: Solar Power. Gotta admit that'd be sweet.

  4. Well, I was going to suggest getting an iPad, but then I got the point in which you wrote that it couldn't be an Apple product.

    Just curious ... have a personal beef with them? Think Apple products suck?

  5. No big deal. It's more a matter of conflicting personalities. The Apple way is too closed and dramatic (some might say "secretive") for my taste. I gave them a fair shot, I own a Powerbook G4. It's pretty awesome and it has lasted six years as a secondary computer, but there's more concentration of power in my consumer-company relationship than I'm comfortable with. I travel frequently to faraway lands where there're no Apple Stores.

    Also, I can't even find my own stories that are (supposedly) listed in the iBooks store.

  6. Man, the right phrasing really does wonders for selling theoretical future-technology. Now I really want a "clipboard replacement".

  7. That's some of the David Marketing Genius right there. Who can resist the sex appeal of the basic clipboard?


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