Dagmar raised an interesting question yesterday in her comment. We have all had the experience of thumbing through an old-fashioned paperback book and magically finding the spot we want. There is something about this physical medium – the way the book remembers those pages you’ve lingered on before, and then falls magically open to the right spot – that is incredibly appealing.
But suppose, just for a moment, that Amazon and SONY did not have a monopoly on the look-and-feel of their respective eReaders. Imagine an open marketplace for whatever cool software idea might be out there for navigating your way through an eBook.
My guess is that given a sufficiently open marketplace of ideas, people will converge on a paradigm for the different ways to read an eBook – skimming, marking pages, knowing how to make the book “fall open” to your favourite passage – that is every bit as compelling as the methods we currently use for finding our way within a paperback book.
It wouldn’t replace paper books, of course – it’s a different medium, and one medium rarely replaces another outright – but it would be a big improvement.