Monday, June 8, 2009

Guest post: The features that will perfect your eBooks

Today we have a guest article by Dan Harrison who writes about eco-friendly technology for EnviroGadget features the latest news and reviews about green gadgets, such as solar powered gadgets, eco-friendly camping gadgets, devices that benefit your health, and more!

eBooks have been around for a while now, and eBook reading devices such as the Kindle are just starting to become popular. However, for an ebook reader to be a true replacement for a good old-fashioned book, there are some challenges that we need to overcome. So here are a few ideas on features we need to see from eBook readers to even consider them a fair replacement.

Selling an eBook on again.
With a real book, we can exchange, swap or sell them with other people. eBooks are essentially just files and a great deal of work has gone into copy-protection schemes to protect against theft. Surely we want to be able to sell, give away, or exchange our copy if we choose to? However, this issue does imply that we are paying per book and have some ownership over the book.

Renting an ebook I'm personally a fan of public libraries. It's a great way to experience books without owning all of them. Wouldn't it be great to go to a library website and rent a book for a week or two? Ideally this would be free, but if there's money to be made, publishers would probably want a subscription service. Perhaps in the same way Spotify exists for music.

Colour and animations Sure, we're getting closer to being a fully-fledged computer now, but having moving diagrams and colour images in an eBook reader would really improve the experience. I'm thinking more of childrens' books and text books here, but images can really help with explaining something. I believe that most eBook readers at the moment are just black and white.

Writing on some of the pages. For some books, it makes sense to annotate the pages, particularly if you're studying. There are all kinds of things you could do with this feature, such as exporting the notes on to your computer.

Bookmarking pages or portions of text.
When I find a great page or quote in a book, I want to save the quote, but I usually end up losing the bit of paper with the details on it. So a useful feature would be to save a portion of text or to bookmark pages with some kind of note. You can then of course export this information to your computer. If you're writing a research paper, being able to save quotations and extract the correct details for references sections would be a huge time saver.

Reading a book using a Text-To-Speech engine
If you're too tired to read a book, or there's little light, it would be great if the book could read itself to you. You could adjust the voice, pitch and speed to make it as comfortable as possible to listen to. That said, this feature is just desirable, rather than being essential!

So there are my thoughts on important features ebook readers need to have to match or exceed the usefulness of a book. What would you like to see as a feature for an ebook reader?

No comments: