PRESENTATION: The Legacy of E-Readers Beyond Reading

October 25th, 2019 § 0 comments

While the reports of the ebook’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, dedicated e-readers have diminished in popularity with readers electing to use smartphones and tablets in their place. In this paper, I argue that beyond the e-reader’s continued role as a niche consumer electronic, it also fulfilled an important part of broad technological research and development that will continue to influence future trends in mobile computing and beyond.

Through case studies of e-reader’s early adoption of lithium-ion batteries and continual investment in bendable, low-power screens, I argue that e-reader’s long-term legacy will be solidified by its proof-of-concepts, rather than reading on-screen. For example, Nuvomedia, developers of the Rocket Ebook, designed the product to test the use of lithium-ion batteries, with the inventors later going on found Tesla. Likewise, Amazon subsidiary LiquaVista’s research into next generation electronic paper was a precursor for foldable phones. Through analysing the cutting-edge elements of e-reader design historically, I demonstrate the importance of the device within wider digital culture.

Comments are closed.