eBook Reader Design Fosters Studying And Collective Thinking
Addr knows you can get back into reading with a little help from your friends
One of the most consistent critiques of eBooks coming from book lovers is that they isolate readers. Peer-to-peer lending is still a new concept, and most eBook readers are far more likely to just buy an ePub file ‘new’ from giants like Apple or Amazon. Serious readers miss the experience of being gifted a book by a friend – with their inscription and/or marginalia – or buying one from the bookstore with mysterious and sometimes enlightening marks. A new eBook reader called Addr, however, promises a return to the glory days of social reading.
Addr’s philosophy rejects the skeumorphism of typical eReaders by refusing to limit itself to a book page that fills the screen. This allows it to foreground notes far more than any other reading app. Instead of being trapped in popovers that no one looks at, notes are visible in the margins with the text, like with a real book. To add a note, you just drag your finger over a block of text. You can share these annotations even with people who don’t have the app using email.
Few eBook readers offer a satisfying way of orienting yourself within the text, but Addr also uses its rethinking of screen space to provide an annotated scroll bar on the right side of the page, where you can see a zoomed-out view of large blocks of text. You can easily skip between chapters this way. “Pagination looks a lot like a skeuomorphism. That is: copying a paper-book effect on a digital device has no justification,” said co-founder Simon Guigue. “The iPad is a new medium, thus we should reinvent what seemed natural to us with the paper-book (scrolling once existed before the codex appeared during the Middle Age).”
But what happens when screen real estate is less plentiful? This is Addr’s next project. “We very seriously think about going on iPhone. It’s actually a running debate inside of our team, whether or not should we code an app specifically for iPhone (for example, we’d cancel the annotation and only keep the ‘global snapshot’). The app will definitively not offer the same service, but it will sure be released on the App Store in early 2015,” said Guigue. For now, despite their small size, it seems we’ll be sticking with pretending that our iPhones are books for a bit longer.
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