1HDC 09.09 - The Future of Digital Reading - Submissions

Moderator’s note: The text has been updated from the original posting on Sept 10, 2009.

One Hour+ Design Challenge: The Future of Digital Reading

September 9, 2009

October 14, 2009

What will reading look in the future? Will we be using printed books, rectangular electronic devices, embedded technologies?This competition challenges designers to envision a rich future digital reading experience, based on a defined set of design research.

Recently, Portigal Consulting undertook an exploratory research project on reading, books, and digital reading devices, entitled Reading Ahead. Here’s what they found:


  • Books are more than just pages with words and pictures; they are imbued with personal history, future aspirations, and signifiers of identity
  • The unabridged reading experience includes crucial events that take place before and after the elemental moments of eyes-looking-at-words
  • Digital reading privileges access to content while neglecting other essential aspects of this complete reading experience
  • There are opportunities to enhance digital reading by replicating, referencing, and replacing social (and other) aspects of traditional book reading

And here’s what they suggest for your design explorations:

  • Include the sensual
  • Support the social side of reading
  • Consider the varied modes and rituals of reading
  • Develop an ecosystem
    Watch the video pitch above, get familiar with the Reading Ahead research, and check out the slideshow below for more:


(If you’re really keen, watch Portigal Consulting’s whole presentation of findings (with audio): 80 minutes of tasty insights and provocative themes.)

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the research, take 90 minutes to generate as many ideas as you can, based on the research findings. (Remember that the time you spend going over the material doesn’t count against your design time.)

Use sketches, renderings, storyboards, comics, diagrams, or even short videos to convey your designs, and upload them here.

Winners will be selected by Core77 and Portigal Consulting.

Judging will be based on inventiveness of ideas, with a sharp focus on how well those ideas build on the Reading Ahead research. So be sure that you communicate those connections!

Portigal Consulting and Core77 will each be donating $300, in the name of the prize winner, to 826 Valencia (a nonprofit that helps kids with expository and creative writing, and San Francisco’s only independent pirate supply store). 826 Valencia will put together a celebratory gift bag (i.e., pirate booty!) to honor the winner. Results will be published at both the Core77 and Portigal Consulting websites.

Here’s My E Book. The idea’s as simple as could be. Basically it’s a regular book except the pages are made out of flexible OLEDs, there is a processor and memory stored in the binding, and there is a pop-out touchscreen interface inside the cover – the goal is to maintain the look and feel of a normal book as much as possible.

There are fifty pages in my drawing, but it would be completely scalable – 50 just seemed like a good place to start. If the reading material surpassed 50 pages – which is likely – the reader would simply return to the first page and press the advance button on the navigation screen of the touch pad, which would load the next fifty pages into the book. One would also have the option of jumping to any selection. While it’s not paper, the OLED’s would still deliver content in a similar fashion, and maintain the most primal experience of flipping through a book.

Since the book is inherently scalable, it can satisfy the full spectrum of reading rituals – from a short pulp that one takes on the subway, to that massive Russian novel one chips away at every night in bed.

The E Book would operate much in the same way as a kindle in regard to content – downloading books, and subscribing to newspapers and other media that is becoming available.

The touchscreen interface could be left in place and used just to manage libraries or navigate a given book – so that if one was reading on the go – in a busy train for instance, there wouldn’t be anything superfluous to juggle around and disturb one’s routine. On the other hand, if one had the room to spread out, they could detach the touch screen and jot notes with the stylus as they read.

Lastly, since the E Book is blue tooth equipped, it could easily share material with any other blue tooth equipped device. One could even share their notes – which could be set to appear on the pages they reference – so as to impart their own personal experience to a friend.
E-Book.2.tif (1.87 MB)

the eTYbook

The eTYbook is a revolutionary new way to read, collect, trade and travel with written language. The eTYbook weighs 2lbs which is significantly more than the kindle’s 10.6 ounces but lends itself to having a real tactile field similar to a real book. The dimensions of the eTYbook are 5.5" x 8.5’’ closed, and 2.3" in depth including front and back covers. (13.3" open). These dimensions are close to the size of a standard C-format soft cover book about 400 pages long. Attempting to look and feel like a small hard cover book the eTYbook has a spine. The eTYbook’s front and back cover would be made of large LED panels so the artwork of the book you’re reading can be displayed (this is customizable in the preferences). Book jacket and cover designs would be rescaled proportionally and any empty space would be filled with a matte black. The exterior of the eTYbook would be protected with a clear plastic that feels like a beautiful hard cover book that has thick, coated stock. As a result of this, the eTYbook is rigid and the structural integrity is strong enough to serve as an object to place lamps, plates or other books on top of if you ever find yourself using the eTYbook as an “object” or decoration.

eTYbook’s “guts” are made of 20 rigid 4-color, double sided, digital pages to read from. Users may select to flip through the pages of the book traditionally or continually read off of one page, freeing up other pages for other books, magazines, periodicals or short stories, etc. When the user gets to the last page if he/she chooses to thumb through all they need to do is is flip back to the first page of the book and eTYbook’s sophisticated technology brings you the next sequential page. Additionally if you close the eTYbook while reading, the next time you open it up you are prompted with a quick dialouge to select “continue reading”? The inside left cover houses a permanent interface to search and navigate your eTYbook. Navigation menus include: Search, preferences, genres, and an A-Z touch screen display for quick browsing. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias come built into the eTYbook, but additional texts may be installed.

Books may be swapped with other eTYbook users using similar technology as the iphone’s “bump” application. Unlike the kindle eTYbook only holds 100-150+ full length novels. Of course, you may store additional books and texts on your computer and upload them at anytime using bluetooth technology to manage your eTYbook, no cords are necessary.

Lastly, eTYbook’s physical appearance reflects a real book all of the time. When closed and placed on a table the book will continue to display its artwork. If you choose so in the preferences the eTYbook and display a cover-flow so it is forever changing the artwork showing the outside world what you’re reading or have read.

E-soul & mates

In the future of digital reading, there will be two kinds of books.

E-soul is a master book while rests of others – mates are somewhat similar to that of the present books. E-soul has book cover & OLED display.The book cover holds the socket of OLED mounting as well as multiple memory sockets. The OLED display has the base unit which holds two pages of OLED. The base unit also has the processor, some memory storage, battery & USB socket. This OLED display fit on the socket of the Book cover.
OLED pages are touch-screen pages. Stylus can be used to leave personal marks on the pages. Those who want to add text data can use a normal keypad connected through USB. Even charging can be done through USB.
The material for E-soul - plastic, leather, wood etc.

mates are similar to existing books with less thickness & without internal pages. Thus they have individuality through their cover design, feel, and smell. But there are some blank pages or some info pages in the book for the user to write or record some details (Signed copy). Each of them has a memory book. Memory book (same as that micro memory card) is a digital storage of that particular book.

Buying options
You must have E-soul.
When you are buying a book you have two options either.

  1. To buy a just memory book (favorable option for digital users)-optionB
  2. To buy mate book with a memory book inside (option1 for the showcase)-optionA

Thus, they (memory books) can be shared/ borrowed/sell/donate with cover or without cover.

Digital user can fit required memory card/s on their E-soul.

The rest of others can take out OLED display from E-soul & fits into their choice of the mate book. Now they can carry their favorite book in public. Even they can have the display of books/mates on the shelf.

E-soul & its OLED displays can be designed for 3sizes- small (novel size), Standard (universal), Large (magazine).
Physical flipping of pages can be defined with digital flipping option.
E-soul & mates carries similar experience to book users (old) while provide great add-on options from the digital world.

Our solution for the digital book design challenges uses a two-part hinged structure that mimics the design of a physical book and addresses the problem of the lack of kinetic interaction with previous digital book readers. The user turns pages by sliding a finger over the page corner, a gesture familiar to iPod Touch users. Turning the outside corner of the recto/right page turns to the next page; turning the outside corner of the verso/left page turns to the previous page.

Readers would have the option of purchasing skins that adhere to the outside of the digital book reader. These skins would allow users to display the covers and spines of favorite books if they wish, keeping the identity aspect of the exterior of the book.

Jennie Glaser and Andy Sir

digital reading

After reviewing the research and thinking about the evolution of reading over the years, I don’t think that the Kindle model is that far off from a enjoyable reading experience. The three main issues that resonated with me and I think will be resolved with The New Page are: 1) turning the page, 2) sharing and 3) using a digital reading device with children.

The New Page includes screens on front and back, button controls, a flash drive slot (like common digital cameras) and speakers.

  1. Turning the Page is addressed in The New Page by the user flipping the device over to advance the page instead of a button. The user actually feels is making a motion to advance emulating the act of turning a page.

  2. Sharing can be easy! In an age where bands are releasing records on memory sticks instead of cds there is nothing stopping The New Page from incorporating existing technology utilized in digital cameras to the reading experience. Trading a flash cards (or reloading them) can become the new way of trading books easily.

  3. Using a digital reading device with Children is made more interesting and feasible with The New Page. The back screen can also be used as a way to share pictures illustrating the story on the other side (think teacher reading aloud and then holding the book out for the children to see the illustrations) or, with The New Page’s color screens and speakers, read along with your child to richer content.

Digital Home Entertainment Center

We anticipate that the entire home “entertainment center” will be digitized in years to come. In doing so, a person or family’s collection of books, movies, games, photographs, and music will be archived digitally, eliminating the need for the physical formats in the home. The various collections will be represented by application icons on a giant iPod touch screen and displayed in the person’s living room. In this regard, a digital library can be displayed by the touch of an “app”. While the books may all be in digital formats, the covers can easily be seen on display. When the user wants to choose a new book to read, they simply connect their own personal digital reader to their home entertainment center, and drag the desired book from the digital library to the reader. This is the future of digital archiving.

The Coffee Table Book

A digital book format that would replace coffee table books, while maintaining the decorative aspect of books within the home. The book screen would sit on a coffee table and the content would then scroll page by page on intervals. Multiple volumes and books could also be stored within the scrolling book so the owner could access any decorative book they wanted to view instantly.
Idea #2 small.jpg

This portable digital hand-held book allows the reader to take digital reading to the next level while maintaining some key elements that one has with a “proper” printed book. After reviewing the research analysis we discovered multiple elements and concerns from numerous users that current digital reading has left out.

Currently the devices have limitations from the one screen design, this new double screen allows versatility and many more functions. Immediately the user feels as if they are holding a prober book. The “home” screen introduces a variety of new options, two being the public library access which allows 24 hour access to any public library as well as the “bump” application that introduces the sharing characteristic. The user must physically be with the person they would like to share there book with so that there digital book can bump and transfer information, requiring more human contact. With pirating in mind these shared books would only last for a certain amount of time. This new durable, hand held device would allow readers to view “proper” texts from books by virtue of designed pages and colored illustrations that would mirror image the current printed book. There would be a Stylus Pen that permits digital writing and digital highlighting directly on the book or on a digital notebook. Another issue is that the feel of the book is lost in current hand held devices. This new model allows for key visual prompts that remind the viewer of the printed page; “the-dog-ear” feature, the visual of the swooping page triggered by ones finger or the buttons on the side. The idea of a virtual library became important as it is a personal preference how one organizes their reading material. The library becomes a wall of spines that the user can scroll through almost as if browsing in a library. Hopefully through this design one can feel connected to the printed word but still have the accessibility and the possibilities that digital devices offer.

For lack of a better name, I will refer to my idea as the “Electrobook”.

The Electrobook is comprised of three thick “pages”:

  1. The outside cover & left hand reading page
  2. The right hand reading page & paper pad
  3. The “homepage” & back cover


The exterior consists of two screens displaying the cover.

Similar to album covers, the book cover can be a powerful thing, and shouldn’t be lost as digital reading gains popularity. Despite the old adage of judging a book by its cover, it certainly affects the reader in some way, and possibly those around them. (Call It Booklyn - The New York Times)
Another thing to note is that often different editions have different cover art, which can affect the value of the book. What is displayed on the outside screen of the Electrobook may change according to edition and book condition.

For users that want to express individuality, they can also customize their exterior if they’d like, with different photos, patterns, etc. Users may also use this feature if they don’t want readers to see what they are reading.


The reader will open the cover like a paper book, and will be presented with the surfaces where the text is displayed. Like some of the other entries, The Electrobook will have two pages, a left and a right, to mimic the experience of reading a paper book.

In order to mimic some of the other experiences of a paper book, on the corner of each page will be a tab that the user can click to create a “dog ear”. Also in the corner (or at least outside edge somewhere) will be a button to turn the pages back and forth, which is usually where readers flip to the next page.

By using a stylus, the reader can also make highlights and take notes in the margin of the book, a very important part of the paper book experience.


All of these user notes – the highlights, the pre-reading and margin notes, the dog ears, etc. will then be compiled into the user’s “homepage” which will be shown on the last page of the Electrobook (what would be the inside back cover).

Also on the same face as the homepage will be the control panel, where the user can opt to share the book with others, thus creating network/ecosystem:

  • Gifting – can purchase books or giftcards for others
  • Donate – when a reader no longer needs a title, they can pass it along to someone else
  • Loan – can grant access to other readers
  • Sell – can sell their book access for a price

Also on the control panel the user can change the settings/appearance of the book:

  • Specify environmental setting like a camera, so lighting changes as needed (outdoor, indoor, lowlight, beach, etc.)
  • Book condition - New (crisp, white page appearance) vs. Used (yellowed, maybe more pulpy texture, font changes, perhaps even including common reader anecdotes). Cover art will also change based on edition
  • Sound (page turns) - on or off
  • Text size (large format, regular, small)


“The Ultimate Book: The only book you will ever need”

thE-Book is a product that allows the user to download content of their choice off the internet through internet access. It contains the technology that allows one to get online quickly and download information instantly (similar to the technology of a Blackberry for instance). It has internal battery that needs to be charged daily. thE-Book comes in a lightweight, compact form and can be easily carried in one’s pocket or purse. The dimensions of folded thE-Book are 4" x 5". It unfolds into a form resembling that of a book with full dimensions of 8" x 10 " (or 8" x 5" per page). Each section that folds/pulls out snaps onto its adjacent component thus securing itself into a shape mimicking a small sized book. The outside covers are finished with recycled leather/suede to provide a soft tactile and familiar experience for a reader.
The previously assembled 2 pages (the slide in and out - see picture 4.) are connected by small snappable connectors which upon snapping allow for thE-Book to fold from 180 degrees to 90 degrees. Once thE-Book is assembled a main central reading page is revealed that’s made out of softer/flexible OLED. This page can be flipped back and forth just like a page in the book and with each turn of the page the content/text progresses to the following paragraph/chapter. The central page consists of 2 OLEDs attached to one another so that both sides of the central page are readable. User can also easily go “BACK” to previous pages by selecting the option on the screen. There is also a thE-Map showing overall chapters/pages/articles that allows user to easily skip to a desired page (location of thE-Map is discussed below)

The interior right-side cover contains enclosure for a very thin thE-Pen that can be used to highlight the central reading page, go to main menu located on the left-side cover (described below), to take notes in the NOTES touch screen (that’s right above thE-Pen slot), or work and otherwise interact with any of the touchscreens in thE-Book. There is a small button by thE-Pen slot that - when pressed - releases thE-Pen. After use, thE-Pen is safely stored back into the slot.
The interior left cover has 2 touch screens - top and bottom - thus divided due to the fold in the center which allows thE-Book to be folded into a compact size. The screens provides a menu for the user with shortcut “buttons” that can be set up by the user depending on how he or she decides to use thE-Book.
For instance the shortcut buttons/options displayed on screen can be the following:

Newspaper (when selected it guides readers to select which newspaper content they wish to read - such as NY Times etc. Users can also subscribe to a particular newspaper so that contents are downloaded automatically off the internet at a specific time each day)

Book Engine (leads users to chose which book they wish to download off the internet; there is an option of saving their credit card information so that book content installation is quick, easy and instant; Users can protect their personal information from being misused if thE-Book is lost or stolen by setting an entrance password; in case thE-Book is reseted all personal information is deleted)

Audio Book Browser (users can download audio files as thE-Book has an option that allows users to plug in their headphones and enjoy the experience of hearing their news/novels/etc. This is specifically useful for the visually impaired - for this reason thE-Book has additional software that provides an option of responding to voice - thus the visually impaired user is able to obtain and hear content simply by requesting it through speech. This particular software for thE-Book is sold separately)

Games (users can download crossword puzzles and some simple games such as tetris, solitaire etc. They can use enclosed thE-Pen to interact with the main central screen)

Kids Corner - optional for parents (provides content for children - including children’s books, animation/cartoons, games, “coloring book”, interactive educational content, etc)

Other (user can choose any additional shortcuts on their main menu such as for example dictionary/thesaurus/translator which - if activated - can be opened in the NOTES section at the same time the central page is activated with content - this is ideal for those studying foreign languages on thE-Book. If not purposely activated by the user, NOTES section displays a map for newspaper/book thus allowing the user to easily skip from chapter to chapter, or from page to page of their choice)

After choosing the category or application - the user starts to see central page activating with the content that has been selected from the Main Menu on the left cover.

Settings for thE-Book can be accessed and modified on the touch screen located between thE-Pen slot and NOTES screen on the right-side cover. thE-Book can be as simple or as complex as its user chooses to make it.

Last but not least, thE-Book comes with an attractive protective enclosure bag available in various colors that user can choose from.

Meet PAIGE - The Next Generation e-Reader.

It’s a book it! … It’s a tablet!

PAIGE would be as open to marking as a paper book.
– 6.25" x 9.25" D-size (pretty standard for hardcovers)
– touch screen panel to use with a pen or a stylus
– touch screen panel also functions as keyboard, navigation, etc.
– rotate PAIGE for easy typing
– write in margins / highlight text with finger or stylus
– tag your notes
– tablet could offer other computer / PDA functions
– a special e-book jacket - the physical embodiment of each book - could wrap around PAIGE to give it more of a book feel. these jackets would be optional.

PAIGE would display books as PDFs. The infrastructure to do this already exists because most manufactured books are printed from a PDF.
– could be encrypted to protect copyright
– maintain unique design of individual books and usage of typography
– avoid loose lines, widows, incorrect word hyphenation, and orphans that make e-reading a little sloppy
– the e-book on a PAIGE would match the real book - easy reference and consistent bibliographies
– an adjustable, non-formatted style could be included to allow for text size changes for people with poor eyesight

Ever wonder how your friends or classmates draw or write in books? Or what they would recommend?
– share and read notes, tags, as highlights from others as they appear in the text
– view and hide notes through your buddy list
– view other’s digitally shared library to see what they are reading or recommend

– e-books could be bought online or in a book store. e-books could come free with a hardcover purchase and be unlocked with a special one-time-use barcode.
– e-books could also be purchased as only the e-book jacket (with the barcode) that would wrap securely around PAIGE so that you could display what you are currently reading. People could continue to collect and display covers but store them in a flat file.
– a PAIGE library would probably look more like a display wall showing a collection of covers rather than shelves of books.

My design compose of 2 components, The Cover and The Reader.
The Cover stores the content of the book. You can download stories from the iRead website (similar to the iTune store)
We sell different covers for different kinds of books and reading in different environments. For example, if you are going to the beach, the cover would be waterproof and sand proof and light weight for easy transport. If you like to read at the comfort of your home, the cover might be more fitting to your living room. We would use leather or wood as the exterior and because it is at home, it is fine to be a little heavier but more classy. And so on…
The Reader fits inside The Cover, it basically reads the content from the The Cover and displays the content. You can flip through pages by the corner button. Bookmark pages, add notes, etc.

Because The Cover only stores the stories, you could lend your book to friends without losing the Reader, which is the expensive component. And ideally you would have 10-20 of these Covers and you switch from cover to cover with just one Reader.

With my concept, I sought to reconcile the opposing benefits of tangible and digital books.

The Gutenberg Local/Global Bookmaker combines the connectivity of the digital realm with the tangible, timeless activity of preparing knowledge for storage and acquisition. By involving the user in the bookmaking process, it promotes appreciation for information and knowledge that the digital has led us to take for granted.

I’m convinced that no matter how advanced technologically, no device can properly mimic the analog reading experience. An entirely digital solution eliminates the universal adaptability of books, is more harmful to the environment, and more prone to censorship. Nevertheless, the internet and the benefits of digital access are engrained in society and present an unprecedented opportunity to disseminate truth, knowledge, and wisdom to humanity.

Digital format adaptability to user needs is preserved, but the user can create a tangible library with materials available in their immediate community. The online ecosystem will be a combination of open-source classic works (an extension of Project Gutenberg - see http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page), contemporary professional publications, and non-profit self-publishing endeavors. Book files are either free or downloadable at a one-time fee for permanent use.

Gutenberg would have high volume printing and thermal perfect binding components. The parts and ink system would be open sourced to the world for long-term sustainability and desired customization.

Hello everyone,
My product is not so much turned toward reading but writing. It is quite obvious from the research that people need interaction with their reading. This is why it is important to have a digital tool for writing because any reading origines is writing.

The writing starts with scanning a piece a text which then can be commented on through the use of tablet. Since you can scan both normal book or screen, this new tool is designed to breach the gap between digital and non-digital reading.

This product also tries to follow the boom of digital camera: everybody records their visual life. Here is a tool to record your reading life.

The size 110mm70mm15mm makes it pocketable to carry everywhere and can be considered both as a private tool. A professional use would require a larger size. On the top cover a smooth shape is integrated to enclose the pen.

thanks for reading !! I hope you enjoyed this digital text.

Classic Reader
This idea is a portable book that has the look, feel and smell of an old fashioned leather bound book.


Size Matters-The page opens up to the width that you prefer to read based on what you like and what your surroundings are. The graphics will all scale up or down based on how open the book is.

Interface-The Book has a color preview screen and external speaker. When you open the book up to read there is a slide bar on the right handle to let you zoom in/out.

Data Exchange- This would have built in Wi Fi to download content on the go.
Feels Good- - The edges of the book are bound in leather and wear with time. The outer binding would come personalized with classic gold lettering and name personalization. (Janes Addiction is reading…)

Page Technology-The page would consist of a eink type of paper that can become transparent when you need it to be. Like when you are on the train and some oddball is staring at your junk.
Turn Da Page- When you need to turn the page it would be cool to tie in some sort of page turning physical motion. If you bring the sides together a few inches the page turns. Or you could have a use a tilting sensor inside to detect a motion to the left or right to turn the page / Scroll/ Zoom.


Joe MacCarthy

The perfect reading experience.

Johnny Shi

Scribbled out by hand as my computer was having major surgery until yesterday…