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OPLIN 4Cast #245: Ereading on the brink

Posted in 4cast

Ereaders and tablets, for the most part, have not had much effect on the book. That is, an ebook on an ereader is currently little different than a book printed on paper; it’s the same content delivered in a different medium. A few recent developments indicate, however, that ereading may be about to take advantage of some features that can only be delivered by an electronic device, and that some of these may be so attractive that ereaders and tablets will become the way we all choose to read. And if your reaction to the current experiments is, “nah, not interested,” remember that someday, someone may come up with the “killer” ereader app that creates a massive change in everyone’s reading expectations.

  • Multitouch and the quest to make ereaders more flexible than paper (O’Reilly Radar/Jenn Webb)  “For example, one can pinch together parts of a document to bring disparate areas into proximity to compare them, or one can touch two text selections at once to create a link between them. Cumulatively, these functions together with those addressing annotation, note taking and other parts of the reading process let LiquidText bring to the world of ereaders even greater flexibility than paper.”
  • Kno turns textbooks 3D (TechCrunch/Erick Schonfeld)  “The 3D feature right now works only with models of molecules in chemistry textbooks. It converts the standard chemistry notations indicating how atoms are bonded together in a molecule into a spinning 3D model along the margins. These 3D models can be enlarged and rotated to give students a better visualization of how each one appears.”
  • Startup launches e-books with soundtracks for immersive reading (ReadWriteWeb/John Paul Titlow)  “What makes this approach interesting is the underlying technology, which syncs the changes in sound with your reading speed, which is something the application learns as you go. Some readers might find the tiny triangular icon sliding down the margin of the page as you go distracting. For others, it may be akin to using one’s finger as a pacer while reading a book.”
  • Why did Facebook buy an e-book publisher? (New York Times/Nick Bilton)  “…the social network announced that it was acquiring Push Pop Press, a digital book maker that specializes in interactive books for the Apple iPad and iPhone. The e-books built by the publisher feel like movies; interactive graphics with words sprinkled about cross the page. Could we expect Facebook to start making and selling e-books on its Web site where it would go head-to-head with Apple, Amazon and Google?”

Owner fact:
In May of this year, Pew Internet reported that ereader ownership among U.S. adults had doubled to 12% from 6% in November 2010, while tablet ownership had leveled off at about 8%.