Monday, April 09, 2012

ebooks need skimability

Stephen Johnson, talking to Findability:

If you could move one feature of paper books to digital books, what would that be?

Skimming. It’s a funny thing with print vs. ebooks; the digital age is supposed to be all about attention deficit disorder and hypertextual distractions, but ebooks lock you into reading them in a linear fashion more than print books do. It’s much easier to pick up a print book and flip through the pages, get a sense of the argument or structure, than it is with an ebook (or magazine.) It’s a very interesting interface challenge: I think it’s probably solvable, and I know many smart folks are working on it, but we don’t have a true solution yet.

I agree. It's one reason browsing in bookstores is still better than shopping online, even with Amazon's "look inside this book" - since flipping through the pages hasn't yet been implemented.

It's just a matter of time, though - I'd guess next year or two. Might just need the next generation of mobile CPUs & GPUs to ship. Flipping pages in a book requires some serious framerates!

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