What the ultimate eBook Reader should have

On last week’s 65bits, we talked about the Amazon Kindle, Amazon’s US$400 ebook reader, its pros and its cons, whether it will succeed or not. Here’s what I think ebook readers should have:

Open format books
What’s the point of an ebook reader if you can only get books from one store? I love the Sony Reader, but because the Sony Store doesn’t have that many books compared to Amazon, I wouldn’t want to buy it. The Amazon store has loads of books, but the Kindle’s design and locked up system isn’t my cup of tea. It’s hard to get the best of both worlds together. So create or use a single standard format (such as the PDF format), and make the reader use that format for books, not as an added (and possibly limited) feature. That way, book publishers can sell their own books from their own sites. This also gives new authors an equal playground with the big guys, since they don’t have to convince publishers that their books are worth selling or not. If piracy is a concern, DRM can be put in place in the PDF. Unlike the music industry now, however, that should not require a totally proprietary file format, so that authors or publishers can choose to put the DRM in the file or not, while still ensuring that it’s an open format.

In addition, using a format such as PDF allows the author to decide the kind of layout of the book. For example, books might just stick with the traditional paragraphs, but magazines and newspapers might have their own layouts. This could also allow magazines and newspapers serve ads like the traditional paper ones today.

RSS aggregator
Have a real RSS aggregator that lets you subscribe to ANY RSS feed, not like the Kindle’s aggregator that only lets you get feeds from 200+ blogs. Sure, 200 is a lot, but that’s just a fraction of the millions of blogs out there.

Just like podcasts work by sending latest episodes in the form of MP3s to your computer, make an open standard book cast. Instead of MP3s or videos files, the RSS feed for that cast could send latest PDFs to your reader whenever new “episodes” or “books” are ready. Magazines and Newspapers could be distributed this way. RSS is open anyway.

Podcast aggregator
While you’re at it, why not. Readers today such as the Sony Reader and the Kindle already support audio playback, so why not just create a Podcast aggregator and get your favourite shows (read: 65bits) on your reader?

Some form of wireless internet
The Kindle’s EVDO connection is a great innovation. Readers could have WiFi, 3G, or even 3.5G. How else would the RSS feeds work? The Kindle’s idea of not needing a computer is great. I think all readers should do that.

In summary, ebook readers should be independent of ebook stores. Yes, you can still have Ebook readers that come with a service, but buyers should not have to be locked to that service. They should follow singapore’s mobile phone market. The service provider and the mobile phone is independent. You can (and most of the time do) buy a phone with the service, but whether you choose to continue using the phone with that service is up to you. You should be able to mix and match your reader with a service, or services. That way, the ebook market and grow faster, and with more ebooks, why wouldn’t people want to buy ebook readers?


  • jay

    like ebook

  • Good stuff! We should have posts like these more often.

    Time, I know…

  • NTT


    Interesting arguments.. Here are my thoughts on Kindle and your arguments.

    Open format books.

    I totally agree with your ideas. That’s how things should work and they do! Actually Kindle does support the mobipocket format for documents. Though, mobipocket is probably proprietary format, but atleast there are free converters aviable. Although I will agree that we have all learnt to hate “transcoding”.

    RSS aggregator.

    I guess 200 is just for the start, we will probably see more, and hopefully something like yahoo pipes, and some way to subscribe to multiple custom feeds in the future.

    I don’t mind paying for individual feeds or some kind of monthly one shot fee, as long as I get such control..


    Now that’s a great idea.. Come lets find some coder, and some VCs.. 😉

    Podcast aggregator

    Would be cool, and easy to put in. Though, it will have effect on the battery life. And I will have a HUGE iPod.. But I guess it would be easy to implement as an extra with the RSS aggregrator

    Some form of wireless internet

    EV-DO is great.. Speaking of which, supposedly the Kindle allows you to transfer stuff to it over USB for no price, as long as its in the correct format. And their trascoding software is serverside which is access by email. When you get it back, you can choose to pay and get it transfered over the air, or plug the kindle in and do it over USB…

    Oh and The Kindle actually have a browser. so you can surf the web over EV-DO. This actually makes the RSS more relevant, since RSS can do only so much, all the meat is always on the web-page.. But then the Kindle is B/W and doesnt support flash.. So even the web experience is kinda limited.

Daniel Tsou is our fabulous host, who decides mostly what we talk about and basically calls the shots, Yes, he does. I, writer of this bio on Mr Tsou is very much afraid that by commiting this post to words, I will be dragged off in the night by a black Truck, or a Segway more like. Other than that, Daniel is tall, lived for a period of time in Venezuela and Spain, and is enthusiastic for all things tech.
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