Five Features I Want in My Next eBook Reader

I bought the Kindle 1. Then earlier this year I bought the Kindle 2. I was enthusiastic about both devices. But after nearly two years of using them on a regular basis, I have to admit, I still prefer bound books.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/luismmolina, Image #11148981

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/luismmolina

I know, many people will say “I told you so.”

However, my preference is not because I am opposed to technology. Far from it. I believe traditional books will eventually be replaced by some sort of device. I just don’t think we are there yet, despite the fact that eBook readers are continuing to gain momentum. In fact, at last count, there were some 20–30 different models on the market.

I keep watching each new eBook announcement with interest. I am especially excited to see what Apple brings to the table when—and if—the company ever releases its iTablet device. At Thomas Nelson, we have digitized most of our content, so we are ready regardless of what happens.

However, for me personally, I am not going to buy another eBook reader until it offers the following features:

  1. I want more than a dedicated reader. Right now, I carry an iPhone, a Moleskine notebook, a Kindle 2, and a MacBook Pro laptop in my briefcase. I would love an electronic device the size of the Moleskine notebook that would replace my cellphone, Kindle, and maybe even my laptop. It doesn’t have to fit in my pocket. I don’t mind carrying it.
  2. I want a color, touch screen. Whenever I hand my Kindle to a newbie, their first instinct is to touch the screen to make something happen. Apparently, the iPhone has changed everyone’s expectations when it comes to the user interface. I also want color. I don’t care about eInk technology. Frankly, I think it is over-rated. I don’t need to be able to read in direct sunlight.
  3. I want an easier way to highlight and annotate. Yes, you can do this on the Kindle now, but it is really clunky. It takes several clicks of the pointer to make it happen. This is where a pen or stylus interface—or perhaps even my finger—would be so much easier. Also, adding annotations (i.e., notes) is especially cumbersome. I have given up even trying. I am not sure what the right interface should be, but the Kindle keyboard isn’t it.
  4. I want a transferable library. Initially, I wasn’t too worried about the fact that books I bought for the Kindle could only be read on the Kindle. As far as I was concerned, it was the only game in town. But when Barnes & Noble announced the their Nook eReader, I suddenly realized that my digital library was being held hostage by Amazon. I couldn’t port it over to the Nook—or any other reader for that matter.
  5. I want a way to share what I am reading. It would be great if I could highlight a passage and share it via Twitter or Facebook with a reference to the source. If the passage were too long, it would be especially cool if the post included a link to the full citation (up to a maximum length). As a publisher, I think this would be a great way to create interest in books. The Nook has the ability to “lend” books to your friends, which I think is also very clever.

In the meantime, I am content to stick with the Kindle 2 or read traditional books. Nothing I have seen so far has enticed me to switch.

Question: What about you? What would it take to get you to buy a new eBook reader?

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