E-Ink Book and Device Concepts Offer Beautiful UX Alternatives

One designer asks why we should change the open-and-close design of conventional books when it’s worked for so many years

As soon as the tech world heralded the arrival of tablets as the future of mobile computing, it seems that the collective brain of the design world largely shut off, becoming obsessed with the dictates of finding forever thinner and lighter slab-shaped devices. But one young designer has embodied the need for ongoing creativity. Fabrice Dubuy, who works in France and self-deprecatingly refers to himself as an “(almost) designer,” has spent the long gap between graduating from design school and getting a (real) job dreaming up devices that offer alternative perspectives on the future of reading.

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Dubuy has designed more than half a dozen devices, including an eBook that opens and closes called the flipBook, a reading-friendly phone that uses E Ink, and an RFID-based lectern designed for educational environments. The two-sided nature of a printed book, he argues, has been too quickly abandoned despite habits that have long been ingrained in us:

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“After being printed on a codec for so long, the book (the content) had been shaped as a very long linear development, organized in chapters and sub-chapters. It make sense to read a story from the beginning, all the way to the end… I strongly believe that if you want to understand some very complicated notion in a special field, you have to dive deep into a long and complex explanation, designed and organized by a write in a certain order to help you understand his argumentation. Somehow, the double-screen eReader brings back the linearity of the text, visually you switch from a page to an other, just like a good old codex.”

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He has also designed several app and interface concepts. He is particularly interested, he told us, in “digitizing a content which has been printed for thousands of years. When you use the same support for so long, it has a great influence on the content, what and how you write and organize your text.” Rather than appearing as awkward intermediaries, his objects allow hours of comfortable reading while also respecting the methods of interaction unique to the medium, creating fruitful interactions between the old and the new.

Fabrice Dubuy

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