I’m slowly beginning to read more and more books on my Kindle or iPad, rather than in printed form. I enjoy reading books electronically, but there are two large drawbacks.
First, it is hard to thumb through the book quickly. You can click “next page” over and over, but this is still relatively slow compared to just quickly turning through the pages of a physical book. The ability to thumb through a book quickly is extremely important for maximizing your comprehension of the book because it enables you to preview the content rapidly before your main read, and it allows you to review the content rapidly when you want to look back and reinforce what you’ve learned. E-books just go too slow to make this work well.
Second, it is hard to quickly go through the book to find a particular section or quote. I know you can easily review all your underlined portions together, which is a nice advantage. But sometimes the section I want isn’t something I underlined. It becomes cumbersome to get to the point I want.
What is the solution to these two problems? Here’s what I would like to see. It is probably technologically impossible right now, but it would almost be a perfect solution.
What I would like to see is a digital book with actual pages. It would have about 300 pages, like a printed book. The difference with a printed book, though, is that each of those pages would utilize electronic ink. As a result, when you decide to read, say, George Bush’s Decision Points, the whole book becomes that book. When you select a different book to read, the whole book then becomes that other book. And so forth.
In other words, instead of having a single screen that displays the contents of the book, like the Kindle does, you have actual pages which allow you to read the electronic book just like a printed book. To go on to the next page, instead of hitting “next page” and waiting for the screen to change, you actually turn the page and there it is — just like in a printed book. This creates a more natural experience and allows you to flip through the pages quickly in order to preview and review, thus solving the two problems I outlined above.
But unlike a real book, this book can be turned into any book you want. For, since the pages use digital ink, the contents of the book can be changed to whatever electronic book you have purchased and want to read. At the beginning of the book could be your library and the primary controls (similar to the “home” section on the Kindle), which would then serve as your control center where you can browse your library, select what book you want to be reading, shop for more books, and so forth.
If a book is longer than the 300 pages that this electronic book would have built into it, when you get to page 300 you just push an icon on the screen to tell it to change the pages to show 300 to the end, rather than pages 1 to 300. Or something like that.
Obviously the big challenge with this type of e-reader is creating pages which display digital ink and are able to bend like real pages. That might be a large obstacle! But it would seem that there should be some way to get that figured out.
There may be other drawbacks as well, making this an utter pie-in-the-sky dream. But it sure would be great to see something like this.