A Book is not a Display: A Theoretical Evolution of the E-Book Reader

  1. 1. Kirsten C. Uszkalo

    St. Francis Xavier University

  2. 2. Stan Ruecker

    University of Alberta

Work text
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In our part of this panel session, we will discuss the design
of the physical electronic book—the reading device—from
a user perspective. There has been a tendency on the part
of producers of information to disassociate the information
from its media. This makes sense in a digital age: there are
ineffi ciencies in production that can be made more effi cient by
remediation. Additionally, there is little intrinsic justifi cation for
preferring one medium over another, unless one wishes to take
into account the situated context of use. Designers, however,
insofar as they are distinct from producers of information,
have had a longstanding tendency to become absorbed in the
situated context of use.
When the conventions of HTML were determined in such
a way that they discounted formatting, and for very good
reasons of cross-platform compatibility, designers began the
uphill battle of changing the conventions, because they felt
that formatting, and not just content, was important. For
example, Travis Albers says of his recent project Bookglutton.
com: “BookGlutton is working to facilitate adoption of on-line
reading. Book design is an important aspect of the reader, and
it incorporates design elements, like dynamic dropcaps.”
The issue at stake with existing electronic book readers is their
function as an interface, which can, according to Gui Bonsiepe,
create the “possibilities for effective action or obstruct them”
(62). Interface issues like eye strain, contrast, and resolution are
being addressed through the use of E-Ink’s electronic paper in
Sony’s 2007 / 2007 Sony E Book, Bookeen, iRex Technologies,
and Amazon’s Kindle (2008) electronic book readers. Samsung
and LG Philips are addressing object size of ebook readers
with 14 inch lightweight epaper formats; and Polymer Vision’s
Readius, “a mobile device” is a “fl exible 5-inch e-paper display
that unfurls like a scroll.” However, these formats lack the
intuitive, familiar feeling of the book. Acknowledging that
ebook proprietary software issues, copyright, and cost might
keep people from investing in a reading device in order to be
able to read a book, and noting the continued superiority of
the paper book in both form and function over the electronic
book reader, we will look to the range of design issues which
continue to plague the potential viable sales for the electronic
book reader.
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Conference Info


ADHO - 2008

Hosted at University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

June 25, 2008 - June 29, 2008

135 works by 231 authors indexed

Conference website: http://www.ekl.oulu.fi/dh2008/

Series: ADHO (3)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None