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.
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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.
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
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
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.
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