15 May 2008

The Perfect E-Reader - Nick Travers On Writing

What would the perfect e-reader look like? For a start, we need to get away from the idea of an e-reader and embrace the idea of an e-book. I don’t want something that looks and feels like a clipboard; I want something that looks, feels, and works like a book. Something like this picture maybe? This is the proposed new OX2. This is an exciting design.

When I open a book there is a lot more going on in my mind that a merely craving for information. There is the anticipation of pleasure: I sit back, settle into my seat, open the cover, support it in one hand, raise it to the right height, and start to read on the right-hand page. I then move to the left-hand page, shifting the balance of the book as I do so . When I reach the bottom of the left-hand column, I turn the page, am presented with two fresh pages, shift the balance of the book in my hand again, and start reading at the top of the right-hand page.

Psychologically, even though I know I am holding a piece of technology, I would still crave the experience of opening a book. If I want to read purely for information I will open up my laptop, but when I go to read a book, even an electronic book, I want it to feel like a book. There is something pure and uncluttered about a book – which means I don’t want it covered in buttons. I want full pages of text, nothing else.

I’m currently holding a 135mm x 195mm x 14mm CD-Rom case, this would be a good size and design for an e-book. So the main features of an e-book I would want to use are:

  • It feels like a small book when you pick it up.

  • You open it like a book.

  • It has two pages or two screens: one on the left, one on the right.

  • When I turn the page at the bottom of the left-hand column, both pages/screens change, so I can start reading at the top of the right-hand page again.

  • No buttons, so it will have to be touch-screen technology.

The workings of books are so engrained in our being and society, and so familiar to us that they cannot be redesigned. As soon as tech designers realise this we will get some really interesting e-books on the market.

Basically, I don’t want someone to redesign the book or change my reading experience, I just want an electronic book. Something which is more convenient, easy to travel with, isn’t going to clutter up the bedside cabinet or weigh down the briefcase, but offers the same pleasurable experience. If someone comes up with one of those, at a reasonable cost, I’ll have it.



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