eBooks Stuck in the Physical World

I do a lot of reading on my digital devices: I read Kindle books on my phone and my tablet (until I left the dang thing on a plane), and read plenty of newspaper, magazine, and blog articles on mobile and laptop screens. Strangely, only one of these sources seems stuck in the past: eBooks, which insist on dividing the text into pages. Pages have no meaning on digital devices - just look at all the content that's happy to scroll vertically - but eBook software seems to insist that users want the "page" metaphor to live on. Gizmodo recently asked why, and Wired (where this image comes from!) did the same a year ago. Long story short: it's a crowd-pleaser, more a showpiece to entice buyers than a feature that helps users. At least for now - it could be argued that by comforting reluctant users with familiar paradigms, eBook apps are positioning themselves to usher those users gradually into the future. If so, I'm eagerly awaiting that future, where the versatility of digital content can be leveraged instead of dumbed down - and in the meantime, having the option to de-paginate wouldn't hurt!

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