Do We Need Another E-Book Platform?

I will concede that before his current obsession with The Singularity, Ray Kurzweil actually worked on a set of technologies that would seem to give him a leg up on developing yet another e-book platform. All the same, I am just not convinced by the details described in this Wired piece.

“Everyone who has seen it acknowledges that it is head and shoulders above others,” says Kurzweil. “We have high-quality graphics and animated features. Other e-readers are very primitive.”

I don’t read e-books for whizzy animations and high quality graphics. I’ll grant that the current state of e-ink is quite awful and that while I don’t find reading on an iPhone tough on the eyes, I sympathize with those who do. I am not sure that we need all of the features laid out in the meant to be helpful infographic from Kurzweil’s new venture.

As much as I hate the current crop of dedicated devices, what they promise in future generations seems much more appealing to me as a dedicated reader. I’d rather read on a device that reduce the draw of the distractions present even on a slimmed down mobile device while improving on the portability and convenience of dead tree editions.

I also suspect, though there is no mention in the article, that Blio will bring yet another round of DRM, too. That is the only way I can credit the number of titles they claim to already support.

Since the new offering is available on the Mac and iPod Touch, I’ll give it a whirl and will do my best to extend the benefit of the doubt. There is a pretty high bar to clear, in my view, as I think open formats and tools, like ePub, carry the same potential for whizzy features while improving considerably the generativity of books by making purely digital publishing accessible to all, not just traditional publishers at home platforms like the Kindle and Nook are aimed.

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