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.
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.
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?