Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

Blog

You don’t have enough real problems —

When you are complaining about the boring design of eReaders.

Does anyone else think that ereader designs have gotten, well, rather boring?

I was looking at the new Jezetek ereaders this morning when I couldn’t help noticing how similar they looked to all other Kindle competitors out there. They were basic black rectangles with a screen and a few buttons, just like Onyx and Kobo’s devices.

I don’t know about Nate Hoffelder, author of the post linked above, but I mainly use my Kindle to read books, not as a centerpiece for the dining room table. Somehow it never occurred to me to consider the actual appearance of the physical object, rather than its ease of use and the appearance of the text on its screen.

Top Three Things I Don’t Care About:

The physical appearance of my eReader, as opposed to its functionality.

The physical appearance of my phone, as opposed to its functionality.

The snazzy design or lack thereof of my laptop, as opposed to its functionality.

When the device in question is meant to perform a function or a set of functions, then my attention is on the functions, not the color of the casing.

Functionality does include physical dimensions, weight, and placement of buttons. One of the reasons I like reading on my Kindle is that it is light and easy to hold with either hand, whether my tendinitis issue is acting up or not. Functionality does not include color or a streamlined space-age look or whatever Hoffelder seems to care about.

I may be out at the far end of this probability curve, though, as I also barely care at all about the physical appearance of my car either. I gather a lot of people care a lot about cars, but I don’t really get this. I don’t want it to look like a total junker, but other than that I don’t care. So maybe the majority of people are dying for zebra stripes on their eReaders or something. How about it? Do you care whether your eReader stands out from the crowd as a physical object?

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

7 Comments You don’t have enough real problems —

  1. Jo in OKC

    Things I care about in my e-reader:
    * That it’s small enough to carry around easily (preferably fitting in my small purse)
    * That it allows me to enlarge the font
    * That it stores everything I want.
    * That it’s lightweight and can be held and operated with 1 hand.
    * That it’s backlit so I don’t have to worry about external lighting.
    * That the charge lasts a long time.
    * That it allows me to sort/classify my e-book collection.
    * That it’s not damaged easily in normal use.

    My e-reader of choice is a kindle paperwhite.

    The kindle software could be better. It can be irritatingly awkward to get on wi-fi in hotels, for example (seriously, the browser is STILL the “experimental browser”). So, I see most of the “form” changes that are needed are in the software rather than the hardware.

    I think there’s an advantage in the kindle NOT looking too much like a phone/phablet, a tablet, or a computer. It makes it less likely to be stolen. It’s also easier to be sure you’re picking up the correct device.

  2. Megan

    I have a Kindle Paperwhite, although I’m interested in looking at what else is out there whenever it breaks (hopefully not for several years yet). It’s not a bad reader, but the interface drives me bananas.
    – I’d really prefer to manage books in Calibre on my computer (tagging/categorizing) and push it to the reader (Amazon’s management tools only work for books you get from them, not for stuff like free promo books from author newsletters or Project Gutenberg books).
    – Also searching for books is easy but searching inside books is not (“search everywhere” apparently means “on Amazon’s store” and not “book text”…. I’m too lazy to read the manual when I can just pull it up in Calibre and search there).
    – And a final enormous annoyance is that if I’m browsing on Kindle the books are showing the cover. I don’t think there’s a way to get the back cover description (even if I populate it in Calibre). So if I’m browsing my “that looked interesting” pile it’s entirely on me to try to remember what got me interested in downloading the book in the first place as I’m not going to read the first few pages when I wanted a higher-level summary.

    I don’t really care what the reader looks like. I’m slapping a case on it to make it pretty anyway.

  3. Rachel

    I kinda wish I had opted for a Paperwhite because of the backlighting. I do prefer the keyboard interface to a touchscreen, but I’m sure I could have gotten used to a touchscreen. I do like how you can read any Kindle (I assume) in bright sunlight. I wish you could read your phone in sunlight; there’s a functional improvement that would be nice to see.

    Megan, YES. I hadn’t thought of it explicitly, but YES to having the back cover copy displayed up front somehow, in addition to or in contrast to the front cover. I have exactly the same trouble remembering why I got a particular book. The title alone is almost never enough to jog my memory.

    Jo, good point about wanting an item to be robust. I sometimes carry my Kindle when walking dogs, which means two flexis in one hand and the Kindle in the other, which means every now and then I drop it. So far so good. Even being dropped on a paved bike path has not damaged it. Granted, I would prefer not to test it to destruction, but it does seem pretty robust.

  4. Maria

    At the moment. I don’t have an e-reader, since the last one broke, but I have all sorts of reading apps on my laptop (Kindle, Calibre, Mobipocket, Lit), none of them are perfect, they all have some feature I love that the others don’t. :(
    My major concerns are also weight, durability of battery, easy search inside a book, categorizing and searching for books in my library.
    I kind of like it if a device is not black, but it’s not a major issue if it is.:)

  5. Elaine T

    you can read on any of the Kindle e-readers in bright sunlight without a problem. Not the Kindle Fires, though.

    I don’t understand the complaint about Kindle searching inside books not working. I do it all the time. Unless you’re trying to search inside a book you don’t have open? And the matches are fuzzy – if you’re searching on a phrase the search shows all hits where the words are close(ish) together. Which can be good or bad. Often I appreciate it because I’m sure all those words were part of what I’m hunting, but not necessarily the exact phrase.

  6. Rachel

    That is useful to know about Kindle Fires. That wouldn’t work for me.

    I’ve never tried to search inside a book for more than one word, but for me the search inside function does seem to work fine.

  7. Louise

    I do enjoy having something that’s pleasing to the eye as well as functional, but I’ve always figured that’s what covers/cases are for. I have to get cases for all my devices anyway to protect them (because I am terribly clumsy and drop them, scratch them, otherwise accidentally mistreat them all the time), so that’s where I go for the aesthetics. The device itself? Function over appearance all the way.

Leave A Comment