I’ve been trying to keep tabs on the epublishing revolution. While I continue to believe that 2010 will be a breakthrough year for the industry, I also continue to be dismayed by the sorts of crappy ereaders I’ve been reading about. Following are the features I’d like to purchase (and refrain from purchasing) in an ereader, all nicely summarized (just in case an ereader manufacturer ever sees this). I imagine there are lots of consumers out there with similar preferences. Will 2010 be the year when the perfect ereader (for me) will become available on the market?
* I want a USB jack, and nothing more. I don’t want wi-fi or wireless. Just the cable, please. And the low price that goes with it.
* I want a small screen. I want portability, not the ability to view a large-scale map of Colorado all at once. (Obviously I’m talking about the eye-friendly, low-power screen such as the one on the Kindle.)
* Don’t give me an expensive and power-hungry touch screen. Just give me three or four simple buttons with an intuitive interface. I don’t want to touch the words, just read them.
* For God’s sake don’t give me a mouse-scale keypad. All a keypad does is cause the device to be larger and more expensive, and irritate me whenever I have to look at it due to the fact that it’s so completely worthless.
* The battery must be removable! Without specialized tools! When the battery dies — as it inevitably will — I just want to pop it out and replace it. Why anybody makes a device with locked-in batteries is utterly beyond me. Stupid, stupid design. (My criticism excludes very-small and inexpensive devices that aren’t big enough for good battery-release mechanisms.)
* Don’t give it locked-in internal memory. Just give it a slot for a standard flash card. That’s it.
* Don’t give it speakers! If I want to listen to something, I’ll put it on my iPod. I’m not looking for the Swiss Army Knife of ereaders.
* The device should be able to easily read at least the following formats: plain text, pdf, html, and epub. Ideally, Amazon would license its format for use on other ereaders, too, but that would be far too easy, and it would make Amazon far too much money, to actually take place. That does, of course, create a dilemma for me. Amazon has the most ebooks at the most reasonable prices. Many epub formatted books are insanely expensive. I sincerely hope that somebody like Apple steps into the epublishing business to make widely-recognized formats competitively priced. Book publishers are mostly hurting themselves by not making epub or pdf ebooks available at reasonable prices.
* A selling price of $150 or less would be great. If Amazon can sell its hopped-up Kindle for $259, surely a usefully stripped-down device such as I describe could profitably sell for considerably less than that. (Indeed, I wish Amazon would come out with a stripped-down version of the Kindle.)
I don’t know why ereader producers think that consumers want the fanciest, most expensive reader possible. Keep it simple and affordable. Build it, and I will read.