Electronic Book

Thomas Nelson, President and CEO of the “largest Christian publishing company in the world” (I could never really understand what the word “Christian” is supposed to mean in relation to anything but the religion itself) has an opinion on what the electronic book might look like.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy what he is envisioning, so let me take on his bullets one-by-one:

It looks similar to a tablet PC slate. No keyboard, no monitor, and it folds in half.

Why would you want it to fold in half? What for? Folding in half made perfect sense for paper, it makes very little sense for an e-book.

It is the same size and thickness as a hardcover book, say 6” by 9” by 1/2”. Unfolded, it is 12” x 9” by 1/4”. It feels great in your lap. It can even be bent slightly like a book, so you can curl up on the sofa and read away.

I want (and expect) it to be pencil-thin or maybe even thinner (if it is flexible)!

It uses a tablet PC interface with a built-in stylus that feels like a high-end pen. You can use it to make menu selections, enter text (via handwriting recognition), or highlight passages in books.

Tablet PC interface is not perfect for PC and it makes even less sense for a book. And I want to be able to manage with just my fingers in most cases.

It weighs less than a 256-page hardcover book (about one pound). It therefore dramatically changes the shape and heft of your computer bag.

Can’t argue with that!

It has a battery life of 12–18 hours.

It should have a battery life of a few weeks. Using technology like E Ink it would only need power to refresh the page every few seconds or so.

It completely replaces your computer and runs all your favorite applications.

See my comment for the next bullet.

It has 256 gigabytes of flash drive storage. It has room for tens of thousands of songs, photos, movies—and books. Because it has no moving parts (unlike a hard drive), it is faster and more reliable.

I don’t like the convergence of this kind (if it results in one function inhibiting some other). If my e-book can also play music and/or movies—fine, but if those additional features make it a less perfect e-book reader—the hell with them! Electronic book is for reading and maybe occasional writing.

It is wi-fi enabled (of course).

No objections.

It includes a software application similar to iTunes for the purchase and download of books. Heck, maybe it’s just a modification of iTunes.

Absolutely! Especially, if the price is adequate.

It has a simple, elegant book reading application, similar to Microsoft’s Reader.

It is a book reading application in itself.

It has a docking station that allows you to use a keyboard, mouse, external monitor, etc.

A Bluetooth keyboard would be more than enough for occasional note taking and blog/comment writing.

It runs an Apple operating system. (Okay, I couldn’t resist.)

I don’t care what operating system it runs unless it gives me reasons to hate it.

P.S. Perhaps, Thomas, you just need a better Tablet PC?

December 17, 2005 |

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About Me

George Sudarkoff Climber of rocks, maker of things, husband of wife and father of kids. Manage DevOps @SurveyMonkey. Views are my own, but damn they are good views!