The Future of Reading, Part II

Next generation eReaders will be here sooner than later.

I recently posted on The Future of Reading, a topic that stirred a good bit of debate. In this post, I return to the topic technology and  publishing.

In this eight-minute video, Jack Schulze of BERG, a London-based design consultancy, discusses and demonstrates a next generation eReader specifically for magazines.

Simon Says

First impression: The video is more than a little reminiscent of the 2002 film Minority Report.

Beyond that, note how Schulze is very sensitive to the user interface (UI). He realizes that there are many people (myself included) who might be apprehensive about eReaders. You can tell from this video that Schulze is very mindful of this fact. By appealing to the sensibilities of “old school” readers as well as new generations (Gen Y and the Millenials), Schulze hopes to achieve the best of both words. In his vision, the eReader offers an interactive digital magazine equipped with important new features, such as search and bookmarks.  At the same time, he attempts to maintain much of the look and feel of traditional periodicals.

Feedback

What do you think? You have to think that these next generation eReaders will be here sooner than later. Are you likely to take the plunge?

philanimated

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3 Comments

  1. Jim Harris

    Phil,

    Thanks for sharing a very interesting video.

    I have often said that I doubt I will ever buy an e-reader like either the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook. I stand by that statement – mainly because I am not impressed with the current e-reading technology.

    The magazine e-reader shown in the video is, in my opinion, uses a vastly superior paradigm.

    Magazines make for an interesting angle in the e-reading
    debate because they are far more visually oriented than the vast majority of books, which rely almost exclusively on text.

    Magazines commonly include photographs, artwork, and other non-textual components that make for a richer user experience, for lack of a better phrase.

    Therefore, I see digitized magazines helping to pioneer the e-reading movement, far more than e-books.

    However, I also think that the future of printed books is e-books – a better, more multimedia version of e-books, which will mean that books may become much more similar to magazines in terms of shorter length and more non-textual components.

    I truly believe the days of the 250 page “standard” for books are drawing to a close.

    Yes, I realize there is no hard number of pages – some are shorter and others are longer than 250 pages – however, my point is that, in many ways, the publishing houses required books to contain more content in part to justify publishing costs.

    Many books (especially non-fiction) are simply longer than they have to be. There has traditionally been a chasm between “that’s too short to be a book” and “that’s too long to be a magazine article” that has forced the either/or mentality of the traditional publishing world.

    Brevity is not only the soul of wit – brevity is the new soul of the publishing world, which is increasing becoming a digital publishing world.

    Best Regards,

    Jim

    Reply
  2. philsimon

    Thanks for the comment, Jim.

    I can’t say that I know enough about publishing (yet, anyway) to definitely say that many books were too long for magazine articles.

    I do know that many book contracts were not ultimately executed because authors could not provide enough meaningful content.

    To this extent, perhaps e-Books will allow more content of 80-100 pages. Devices like the ones in the video might make this more palatable; I for one can’t see reading a 90 page PDF on my computer.

    Reply
  3. Nicole Brunet

    I’ve had a Kindle 2 for six months or so, and its greatest failing is truly the handling of magazines and newspapers. Not only do you pay a (often hefty) subscription fee, but you get considerably less content, in the form of images, than you would in let’s say their online counterparts.

    In my opinion, the convenience of toting the New York Times, PC Magazine, and TIME all on one portable device does not YET outweigh the benefits of seeing the entire publication as it was meant to be seen. As it stands now, I can do better on my 3.5″ iPhone screen.

    It is exciting to see that research is being done and that sometime in the future there will likely be a viable, digital alternative. Thank you for sharing this, Phil.

    Reply

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