Monday, June 30, 2008

Is Dual Display Really the Future?

I don't get it. I scratched my head after reading this article and then this one, both of which talk about future e-book devices with dual displays. I don't find myself craving a second display when I'm reading on my Kindle. Am I in the minority?

Some books are designed as two-page spreads and facing pages on a display would be quite useful. Those books are few and far between though, so why would I want to pay the hefty premium just to have two pages visible at once, especially when I'm only reading one page at a time?

I think this is another case of trying to preserve the existing model for no apparent reason. "People are used to reading a physical book format where two pages are facing them, so let's follow that approach the e-book model." Wrong! We need to focus more on how to take advantage of the new model and not be so tied to what works in the existing one.

As a colleague recently noted, we didn't preserve the look and feel of scrolls when bound books were invented, so why do we feel so compelled to maintain the physical book attributes in e-books? This seems like a silly and expensive idea.


Tomlin said...

I used to subscribe to
Scientific American online
before I dropped them
because the articles seem trivial
compared to those in Science Daily
but note that they used Adobe *.pdf
for display
which allows dual page
single page with breaks
or continuous scrolling
SI is set up in columns
which makes any of those options
on a small laptop screen

Aaron Youngren said...

Agreed. I actually prefer having the Kindle's single page, as I can easily read in situations that would normally be difficult (i.e., on a crowded bus).

Unknown said...

In the last couple of years, I came to the unpleasant and unwelcome realization that I now require glasses in order to read paper-based books. Fortunately, I do NOT need glasses to read books on my Treo 700p smartphone. This means that I can now carry around some thirty or so books easily, read them at my leisure, and don't need glasses to do so.

I agree that eReaders are dead devices walking--but I'm sure the future of casual reading is digital. In short, smartphones will be the "paperback" of the future.

Richard Dean Starr
Freelance Author
Editor, TALES OF ZORRO, etc.

Unknown said...

agree with you that it's a harebrained idea.

i think the dual screen idea comes from PCs where productivity supposedly goes signficantly when you have two screens due to a mixture of easily being able to do things like write code on one screen and search for help and reference on the other without having to continuosuly alt-tab between screens. and also having a bigger screen area.

however when reading a book it's a single minded pursuit with no need whatsoever for multitasking.

Christopher Gait said...

The dual screen needs to come with a connecting technology. It's a tremendous pain to use the Kindle's browser to do anything, but if they evolve it into something useful, and have it automatically connected to what you are reading, that will make a very nice use for a second screen. Let's say I'm reading a book and Austerlitz is mentioned. The other screen can be displaying information about the battle and its consequences as I read. The same goes for the dictionary. It would be nice to have the lookups show up on another screen. But the key is to have this dual screen only available when you want it. there should be a way to undock the basic Kindle screen from the second screen, perhaps even use them as two separate Kindles when undocked.

Joe Wikert said...

Christopher, you make an excellent point. If it could be designed as you describe it, yes, I'd be in favor of something like this.