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Note: If you don't know what e-paper is, it's basically a broad term for flexible LCD-based displays--think a computer screen literally as thin as a sheet of apaper, and flexible to boot. Link to a fairly recent article is included.
Take a large number of sheets of e-paper, and bind them into a
book. This book would be available in several sizes, ranging from the size of an average trade paperback book (or even smaller, possibly), to trade hardcover book size, to the ultra-deluxe model which is the size of a coffee-table book and can display full-color illustrations. In the spine or covers of the book, place a small amount of flash memory (16mb would be more than enough for the smaller models), and some long-lasting rechargable batteries. Books can be made out of shiny plastic or metal for the technologically (or durability) inclined, or wrapped in finely tooled leather with gold inlays for the more traditional sort. The pages would be treated with a textured coating to make them feel paperlike, rather than like plastic sheets.
When you want to read a book, just plug a cable into a small dataport on the book and download it into memory. Larger models may be able to accomodate actual slots for flash cards, so you can bring an even bigger collection with if you like. When the book is opened, a simple program automatically formats the text onto the pages of the book, along with page numbers and so forth (the book would be compatable with both plain *.txt files as well as the popular current eBook formats--see your own story on real pages!). You can now read your story, just as if you were reading a normal book, turning pages, placing bookmarks, and so forth. If the story is too long to fit in the book, when you get to the last page you can press a button to cycle to "volume two (three, etc.)" and start again at the front. Of course, when the book is closed the pages turn off to conserve power.
Naturally, you can fit more than one story in the amount of memory one could fit in such a book, so on the spine (or in the inside of the cover, where it is better protected) will be a small display to show title and author and a few buttons so you can cycle through the library currently in the book's memory. If you tire of 12-point Times New Roman, you can select various factors to customize your books appearance, such as font, type size and spacing, margin size, and so forth.
Universal Book--combining the power of technology with the pleasure of traditional reading. After all, who curls up in bed with a good laptop?
That's a rhetorical question, darn it. All you geeks can sit down right now. ;)
largely prototype, but clearly doable [5th Earth, Oct 05 2004]
Old Paper Smell
A perfect addition to the Universal Book [5th Earth, Oct 05 2004]
Book that Downloads Words
Very similar idea [Acme, Oct 05 2004]
Sony Librie Review
[Size_Mick, Oct 05 2004]
||Baked (pretty much). See my link.
||i don't mean to come down too hard on this because it's so cool, but isn't this idea basically the whole reason to develop epaper in the first place?
i remember a wired magazine description of a newspaper made like you describe, but it updated itself throughout the day via wifi. anyways, i think there's prior art for this. but it is cool.
||Actually most of the applications I've seen for e-paper were for signs and military applications. But I haven't kept up with the technology very well--back then, the resolution was lousy. And I didn't notice the other version in HB--I quickly scanned the titles and that one didn't "click" as being the same concept.