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Kindle Dreams: What I Want in a Scholarly E-Book Reader

February 22, 2011

So, I’ve been using the Kindle and playing with formats and liking it, but I’m now at the point where I’m saying, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”  So here are my ideas about e-book readers for (Classics) scholarship.  Feel free to add your desiderata in comments.

  • I like the dictionary feature – put the cursor next to a word and you get a definition at the bottom of the page.  It would be great to have built-in dictionaries in multiple languages – for a classics scholar you’d want at least French and German, and for archaeologists probably Italian or Modern Greek, as well as the ancient languages.  Basically, like the Perseus built-in dictionary.
  • A way to handle footnotes or endnotes.  Ideally this would be treated in a webby/hypertext way, so you could move the cursor to the footnote and its content would appear discreetly below, the way the dictionary works.  A bare minimum would be structuring the texts so footnotes appear at the end of each page (and adjust if you change font sizes), or if end notes are a must, there should be way to easily flip back and forth between the page and its associated note.
  • A less slow/clunky way to highlight and annotate in the text.  The Kindle (I have the new one, I think it’s Version 3 – it’s grey and tiny) is okay to type on for the most part.  It has a qwerty keyboard.  I would love it if they could get numerals on the keyboard too, though – for those you have to open up a screen and navigate the cursor around it.  And moving the cursor around is a huge pain. I’ve gotten over my initial desire to use the Kindle like an iDevice with a touch screen – I wouldn’t sacrifice the reading ease of e-ink – but there’s got to be a better way to move the cursor.
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One comment

  1. The second one about the footnotes is a must. It is a pain to read footnotes on the Kindle. It is too time consuming to move the cursor over every footnote reference, click on it, wait a second for it to switch to the footnote page, and then click back to go back to reading the main text.

    They also need more academic books available on areas I study!



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