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.

2 thoughts on “Navigation”

  1. Ken I strongly believe that the ebook-device will do all of what you suggest in the future.

    What I tried to describe is a different kind of information, that some of us take with them, when they look at some printed stuff, that is more like a gps information and the look than about the content.
    It is more about the where to find an information and I mean a physical place here, than about what.

    Let me try to explain this some more, in this blog you wrote some great stuff about a topic I am interested in, I read it only once, but put a marker in my brain. I might have even only skimmed the entry, because at this moment I was interested in other things, but I still put this marker in my brain.
    If I would have printed out all your blog entries, it would have been easy to find for me, because of some additional information that I have stored in my brain, like the look of the page, the number of paragraphs and the location, that means a the top of the stack, or in the middle.
    Since I haven’t done that, the only chance for me to find the right entry is going through your entries page by page.

    So far all those electronic devices are flat and leave out this kind of location information, but maybe we get some more forward in the development of interfaces and get some more VR- and augmented reality technology into it.
    Actually I would be happy to read a VR-book, even if I need to wear a glove and a head mounted display.
    Just right now I love the idea of walking through your VR-blog on a rainy Saturday, just picking out the wonderful entry you wrote three miles ago… 🙂

    And to quote one of my favourite bloggers here:
    “because the future has just started”

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