Reading in the Office

Abstract

Reading online poses a number of technological challenges. Advances in technology such as touch screens, light-weight high-power computers, and bi-stable displays have periodically renewed interest in online reading over the last twenty years, only to see that interest decline to a small early-adopter community. The recent release of the Kindle by Amazon is another attempt to create an online reading device. Has publicity surrounding Kindle and other such devices has reached critical mass to allow them to penetrate the consumer market successfully, or will we see a decline in interest over the next couple of years echoing the lifecycle of Softbook™ and Rocket eBook™ devices that preceded them? I argue that the true value of online reading lies in supporting activities beyond reading per se: activities such as annotation, reading and comparing multiple documents, transitions between reading, writing and retrieval, etc. Whether the current hardware will be successful in the long term may depend on its abilities to address the reading needs of knowledge workers, not just leisure readers.