What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

Amazon recently announced an 8th generation of Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), releasing April 27th.

Customers have expressed a lot of disappointment. I suspect some of that might be that the Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) made a rare tweet ahead of time, raising expectations.

My intuition is that this new device, the Kindle Oasis, won’t be the bestselling Kindle model a year from now.

That doesn’t sour me on Amazon…they take big swings, and those aren’t always going to be home runs.

I also do think that Amazon listens to its customers…eventually. 😉 They are undoubtedly already working on the next devices.

When I’ve taught project management, I’ve pointed out that you can have the most influence in the early stages of a project.

At my work, we tend to introduce something in stages…first in one place, then add another, add another, and so on until everywhere has it.

The people in the first pilot location have the most influence. If place #1 likes something, you aren’t going to take it away when you add place #2. If place #1 doesn’t like something, it may be removed.

The last place to “go live” has the least influence…but starts from the best place with the most mature product. If everybody hated an optional function, it probably won’t make it to the last place…

I wanted, then, to give you a chance to indicate what possible new features for Kindle EBRs you would like. That could help influence Amazon’s development plans.

You also e-mail directly to


I’m going to describe some possible features. You can say if you would like them, wouldn’t like them, don’t care, or don’t know. I am grouping some things together: I don’t want to give you poll fatigue by having too many separate ones. 😉

Based on the aggregate votes, that can give some indications for what it might make sense to spend the time and energy on development to implement.

Waterproof/Water resistant

What it is: current Kindle EBRs are not “water resistant”. Adding this hardware change would improve that

Why people want it: reading in the bath or at the beach. Walking in the rain

How likely is it: Kobo and NOOK already have it. It’s clearly possible

What would be the negatives: could cost more, be heavier (this appears to be the case with the Kobo), be thicker

My take: I would want this, although I don’t consider it crucial. I carry a Ziploc in my “utility vest” for my device in case it rains, which I would rather not do. One of the key things, though, is that it really does feel like Amazon is behind the others on this…a feature which was requested before anybody had it, and which has practical benefits


What it is: the ability to play a variety of audio files, and TTS (which isn’t a file, but is streaming)

Why people want it:  it’s another way to experience a book. It can be helpful for those with print challenges, but also can just be convenient (in the car, for example). It can be combined with sight reading during “immersion reading”

How likely is it: we had it before…it can be done

What would be the negatives: might cost more, might not fit in a super thin device, could add technical issues, maybe more support calls to Amazon, and some publishers block TTS access…which isn’t apparent if you can’t do it at all, takes more battery charge

My take: not having this on an EBR is a deficit. When Amazon stopped offering any EBR that had it, I was disappointed. In part, that’s for me: I do use it a lot. However, I can listen to it on a tablet (and I do). I feel like it’s more important for those with print challenges

More control over how text is displayed

What it is: more fonts, more font sizes, justification, line spacing…user control over how text displays

Why people want it: in part, it’s aesthetics…but people with different visual capabilities and mental processing can benefit from making choices

How likely is it: this is mostly just a matter of degrees and restoring what we had in the past

What would be the negatives:  possibly take up slightly more storage on the device. Might be confusing for some people to have more options

My take: this is less of a personal concern (I’m not very visual), but I really understand the value to people. It’s amazing how little things can make a difference…putting two spaces after a period, as you may have learned it school, can be difficult for people with dyslexia when they are reading online, for example

Color display

What it is: a non-backlit screen with color

Why people want it: partially esthetics, but it’s also valuable for graphs

How likely is it: Amazon bought Liquavista, which can do this, a while ago. It’s possible

What would be the negatives: more expensive, more battery charge use, might not meet expectations

My take: I have some color vision deficiency, so this would not benefit me as much as it would some people. Just for myself, it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing performance…but I would be curious, and I know other people want it

Active Content

What is it: games and utilities

Why people want it: it’s fun. 🙂 It can also be practical, with things like lists and calendars

How likely is it: we had it for several generations…it can be done

What would be the negatives: most likely takes up more memory than e-books. May not be compatible with different models of Kindles on an account. Might cause technical issues. Some people see them as distractions on a purpose-built reading device.  Comparisons to games and apps now readily available on phones and tablets

My take: I always enjoyed this. 🙂 It was great to see what could be done with such a limited platform…it brought out some real creativity!

Those are some of the main ones I’ve seen mentioned. Bluetooth (with audio capabilities on the device, of course) came up. A flexible device, so you could fold it or roll it up was discussed some time ago, and it is possible. People use to really care about EPUB compatibility, but I don’t hear that as much any more.

What do you think? Other features you’d like to see? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

12 Responses to “What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?”

  1. Karen Says:

    OK Bufo, what does I don’t care mean in your poll? Does it mean that you don’t care if Amazon adds it or you you don’t care about that feature?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      It means you don’t care if it gets added. 🙂 Basically, I saw the four choices as (and they could be in random order, deliberately):

      * Positive (I want it!)
      * Negative (Not worth them adding it)
      * Neutral (I don’t care)
      * Unknown (I don’t know)

  2. Tuxy Says:

    I mentioned this in another of your posts, but…. The ability to read all my magazines, without color or the special features. I hate that I have to use my fire to read most of my magazines, even though I don’t care about the color or most of the special features… I get that some magazines “need” the color more, but I think that I should be allowed to make that determination myself. I read cookbooks on my Kindle. Why am I not allowed to read a cooking magazine on my Kindle?

    And, I believe that there are some magazines that used to be available to eink kindles that are no longer available. Plus, now there are some I’ve seen that have two different editions, so if you want to read on both devices, you may have to subscribe separately???

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxy!

      I understand. Yes, there are times you might have to subscribe to two different editions…think of it like a paperback and a hardback, it’s two different formats which the publisher produces separately.

      I think, in the future, there may be smarter software for converting a magazine to a text version, so the publisher doesn’t have to do anything (at least each time). If that’s the case, we might see a “buy once, read both” situation become pretty universal.

  3. Karen Says:

    One of the things I have always wished for is to have books show a banner on all formats (Kindle-Fire-apps) that a book has been read. I find using 3rd party apps cumbersome. Probably not important to most but sure would be nice for me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      You are looking for that on the homescreen, before you open the book? I’m not sure where I can’t see that…you may have to be in right view, though. For example, I have to be in List view on my now discontinued Fire HDX to see the percentages…

  4. Phink Says:

    I voted for sound (audio books TTS etc) but only because there was no ‘depends’ button. I’m not saying there should have been one but just explaining one answer. I would like this only if it also has Bluetooth, which like you say, is probably not likely, but certainly possible. No Bluetooth, then I would never use it.

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    First, let me say that I think we’ve gone about as far as we can with EBR’s as a vehicle to replace the mass market paperback.

    As to your polls, the only item that I would like to see is a reflective color display, but only if it is bright — not like the washed out (including Liquavista) reflective color displays we’ve seen so far.

    Overall things that I would like to see (in no particular order):

    1. Good reflective color display

    2, Better content management for those of us who have multiple devices/reading apps on a single Amazon account.

    3. Solar charging battery

    4 A better EBR internet browser

    5. Some algorithmic way of generating X-Ray info so that every book as it enters the kindle store has X-Ray enabled.

    For me #’s 2 & 5 would be my priority.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’m curious…what’s the importance of the solar-charging battery? I understand that it’s cool and good in the event of an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise), but if you can charge a device for a few hours (or overnight) and have it last six months, is that convenient enough? Or perhaps it’s the ecological impact?

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I have a couple of “solar” powered calculators sitting on the night table by my bed. They charge just fine from ambient light, and the reading lights by my bedside. In effect they’re always charged ready to go — no cables to be plugged in. A kindle with that capability (and the deep hibernation mode introduced with the oasis) would be always available.

        Now kindles probably use more juice than my calculators, but I have hopes that in the next few years battery energy density will be 2-3 times greater, and with perhaps generalized wireless power delivery within the home, tethering might become a thing of the past.

  6. Phink Says:

    I would like the ability to clear furthest page read on the EBR instead of having to log into Amazon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Well, I can understand why that’s not an option currently. Clearing the furthest page read affects everybody on the account, not just one person. That’s why, generally, you can’t make account-wide decisions from an individual device. I could see Amazon making that a choice (“Allow account-level decision on “x” device) eventually

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: