I’ve had an epiphany that e-book readers like the Kindle and the Sony Reader are trying too much to be like books. They are trying to improve on the technology of reading, but that may be a failed enterprise. The beauty of the digital may be, rather, the ability to go beyond text, to integrate multimedia into the reading experience. This is not to say that extended reading will (or should) disappear, but only that printed books are a very effective reading technology. Electronic devices, on the other hand, can include audio, video, and other media. E-book uptake may be low for this very reason. E-book devices are not a significant improvement on print and don’t yet offer integration of other media. I am not sold on it as a reading or media device, but the iPhone may serve as the model for the kind of integrated device I am thinking about. I look forward to a device that has all of iPhone’s media capabilities (phone, video, audio, text, and multi-touch screen), but in a slightly larger format: something between an iPhone and a Samsung Q1. THAT would be a useful media device!
photo by Robin Hamman