Since the early days of the Kindle, the slightly bemusing thing about the e-book revolution has been that, aside from two key advantages, it’s felt a bit like watching someone reinvent the wheel.
Being able to buy and download books directly without trudging off to Waterstone’s or waiting for the Amazon van to arrive is handy, while packing all your holiday reads onto one slim device instead of using up vital suitcase space can be a God-send.
But consider Amazon’s big sell for the new Kindle Paperwhite, out later this month, namely that "the whites are whiter and the blacks are blacker".
What this means is that, more than ever before, the original e-book reader has pages that resemble actual pages rather than a digital screen.
The other main updates follow suit. It’s 25% faster (a 1GHz processor, updated from 800MHz), meaning you can turn pages almost as quickly as you can an actual book.
The display is also brighter, meaning you can see it almost clearly as an actual book, and all of these improvement come without sacrificing the device’s 2 month battery life, which means it lasts almost as long as… well, you get the picture.
Amazon is calling the new Kindle Paperwhite "the best device for reading. Period", which rings true unless you consider a humble paperback a ‘device’.
Look – it’s not that we’re afraid of progress. On the contrary, observing the things that simple paper and glue still have over e-book readers may is vital to the technology’s future. To that end, here are 5 aspects of traditional reading we think e-readers need to find a way of replicating, whilst, of course, offering zero suggestion of how they could be achieved.
1 | Fanning back through pages
Books with multiple characters – One Hundred Years Of Solitude, to pick a random example – can get confusing, particularly if you’re a slow reader. Fanning back ten pages at a time and using your fingers to wedge open pages is a vital way to refer back to earlier chapters and figure out what the hell is going on. With an e-book reader, that means a drawn out process of button pressing. And who has time for that?
2 | Decoration
A bookshelf is the soul of a room. A line of spines in the corner gives your home a sense of warmth, colour and character. A Kindle on a shelf – no doubt next to your laptop, iPad and iPhone – makes your home look like Curries.
3 | Showing off
We all read the works of Proust and Definitive Histories of Important Things to develop of our personal understanding of the world. Of course we do. But it doesn’t hurt that other people on th tube know that’s what we’re doing and feel duly sheepish about the Metro in their hands. If you’re using an e-book reader, they can simply tell themselves it’s probably a copy of Twilight behind there.
4 | Brownie points
No physical gift conveys thought, sensitivity and inner depth like a well-chosen book. An e-book download or an Amazon voucher, on the other hand, is the equivalent of an e-birthday card. Worse than getting nothing.
5 | Bounce-ability
Drop a paperback down the stairs? No problem, just dust it off. Fall asleep with it in the bath? No worries! Stick it on the radiator. But let an e-book reader take a tumble, and you’re a fair chunk of change or two hours on the phone with your insurance company worse off. It’s another electronic device to worry about breaking, leaving behind or being beaten up for on the street.
If the next Kindle can find a way of replicating these important factors, consider us sold.