For years I’ve dealt with ever-expanding piles of paper reading material: Stacks of newspapers, magazines and books on my nightstand and several bookcases throughout the house. I frequently get part way through one and then lose track after a new one comes along, or worse, start reading one only to find that I’ve already read it (most common when sharing it with my wife). And for some years I’ve dreamed of an eBook solution that would let me eliminate all of that paper and help me more effectively track what I’ve read. With the rise of web-based syndication, it feels like we’ve taken a big step closer to realizing that dream.
Here’s what I want:
- A Tablet PC that’s durable enough to survive being dropped on the bathroom floor. Lightweight with long battery life. WiFi is required, but a keyboard is not. The display must be large enough to display at least an 8.5" x 11" image, and display high-resolution photos (for when I read car porn) crisply enough that I don’t miss the paper versions.
- An RSS reader that remembers not only which articles I’ve read, but how far I’ve read in each article. And lets me sort based on last-read date.
- Full-fidelity RSS feeds for all of my content: Books, magazines, and newspapers. And I’m not looking to change the content rules; I’m happy to continuing paying subscription fees for all of the magazines, paying for the books, and having my access to a library book expire after a predetermined interval.
I’m not sure how far away we are from this. The display size I cite above works out to a 13.9" diagonal, so there are at least a few models that meet this bar. With all of the RSS readers available, I’m sure that there’s one that provides the above functionality or is pretty close to doing so. The biggest challenge will be getting all of the content available in a format that’s got the necessary digital rights management support to make publishers comfortable, and getting my local library to support this broadly. (In fact, they already have support for a limited number of eBooks but I have yet to try it.)
I’m guessing this is at least three years away and probably closer to five. But when it happens, I expect to see the top of my nightstand again.