The Future of Ebook Apps (Today)

by Joe Wikert

I’m in the process of reading Nick Bilton’s excellent book, I Live in the Future and Here’s How it Works.  I highly recommend it, btw; look for a detailed review here in the not too distant future.

While Nick’s content is extremely fascinating, the reading experience on my iPad has been painfully frustrating.  I want to mark it up and pass excerpts along to colleagues.  That’s next to impossible with all the ereader apps out there.  I’m reading it via the Kindle app on my iPad.  Does anyone feel the Kindle app’s note-taking feature is adequate?  Anyone at all?  I didn’t think so.

At the same time, I’m using a new note-taking app on my iPad.  It’s called Noterize (App Store link) and you can find my review of it here.  As I mention in the review, Noterize excels as a document mark-up tool, but imagine an ebook reader app with Noterize functionality built-in.

Click on the image at the top of this blog post to see how it would work.  What I’ve done there is doctor up a screen shot of Nick Bilton’s book from the Kindle iPad app.  I imported it into Noterize and added a bit of highlighting, a handwritten note and a PostIt note.  Know of any ereader apps that let you do this?  No, there aren’t any.

I realize what I’m asking for isn’t all that useful if you’re reading a novel, but how many other types of books have you read where you wrote in the margin or added a PostIt note?  I’ve got plenty and I think it’s ridiculous that something you can do so easily in a physical book can’t be done in an ebook.

Now take this to the next level and add the ability to share portions of the book and your notes.  Let readers press a button and share an excerpt via email, Twitter, etc.  Incorporate a “buy now” button and it quickly becomes a marketing tool.  Old-school publishers are already cringing!  So what?  Make it optional by title and let publishers opt out if they’re afraid of change.  Over time those publishers will either support it or die off because their products don’t offer the same features as competitors.

The first ereader app vendor who adds Noterize-like functionality to their product becomes my preferred ebook store.  I’m just hoping it’s not Apple since multi-platform support remains an even more important issue for me.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Semple20 September, 2010

    The future of reading is in metadata. Mere reproduction of print reading experience is not very compelling.

    PDF has had the ability to share annotations in the way you describe for years.

    Amazon seems well positioned to do something in this area, having taken some tentative steps in social networking integration, highlight sharing etc. But they need to take it to another level..


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