Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On Kindle: A Non-Publishing Perspective

Since its release last November, the Kindle has kicked up debates about everything from the future of reading to Jeff Bezos' quest for world dominance.

More than anything, though, it seems that people just can't get over how darned clunky-ugly-retro the thing was.

, a networking site frequented by industrial designers, responded to the Kindle design debate by opening up a one-hour design challenge/forum, asking readers to show the world their vision of the perfect Digital eBook."

The results ranged from classic (aka Sony Reader-esque) to innovative (the winning " eScroll") to irreverent (Walkbook Sports). Designers focused on functionality and form, and explored the notion of what a digital book should do. Some features from proposed designs:

  • Tri-screen with touch screens - To turn the pages, users just simply touch the screen diagonally.

  • Users can select the book they want to read from the cover and highlight and take notes by using the stylus.

  • Pocket-sized or smaller so that it fits in the palm of your hand

  • Customization options that allow users to distinguish the book as their own.

  • One designer noted that a current problem with ebooks is not being able to write notes on them, his design included a pen that allows users to write notes on pull-out wipe-away "paper" which is then recognized by the ebook and saved as a note on the page.

  • Integrated speakers that allow users to hear books in audio

  • Book spine printout - printable sticker spines for the sleeve of the cover that can be stuck on your e-book shelf when you've finished reading.

  • Subscription based readers that automatically download monthly collections for a low annual fee (think the Oprah book club, or New York Times best seller list, or Phillip K. Dick award winners).

Check out all of the designs on the Core 77 forum: