There is not much I don’t like about reading. So when ebook readers started to emerge I was very excited. It blended my love of books with my love of technology. Looking back over the past year since I bought my Kindle, I dare say that it’s probably one of the best purchases I’ve made.
The technology behind this device is ‘E ink’. The closest comparison would be a modern day Etch-A-Sketch. The energy is used to create an image/words and that image stays there until you shake it – or in the Kindle’s case click ‘next page’. This gives the device some very distinct advantages over other reading devices and computer screens.
Firstly, the ink is physical and looks like pen on paper. This means you can read outdoors and it doesn’t fall prey to the pitfalls of light-based screens that make viewing outside or in bright light uncomfortable.
The device also uses very little power. The only time it uses power is when the ‘next page’ button is pressed which replaces the current page for the next – other than this, there is no battery use and the new page displays indefinitely. As a result, you can get away with charging it just once a month with regular use.
The biggest advantage of the Kindle is its ability to carry hundreds of books in a small and light-weight package – an advantage for anyone from school-aged children to those who may find holding a big, heavy novel difficult or uncomfortable.
While there are stacks of books already available on the Kindle (more than most can read in a lifetime), not all books are available yet. However if you’re willing to buy the hard copy and put in the hard yards (yes, by scanning every page), you can create your very own e-book.
The future of this technology excites me. In the very near future e-readers will be colour enabled. There is also talk that the e-reader could become flexible and bend to fit in your bag. I can even see the technology adopted to other areas – can you imagine E-wallpaper? Your wall could be any colour and pattern you desired. Or an advertiser could change the layout of a giant billboard, all at the push of a button.
There are some technologies that emerge with a lot of hype and with promises of grand improvements to our everyday lives but they tend to always fall short. The Kindle and other ebook readers isn’t one of them. This brings the digital and printed worlds together which I feel is important, just think how many trees will be saved!
In an age where reading a book is becoming as outdated as playing with a Rubics cube, I say good on the book for reinventing itself.