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E-Reader Search Must Be Re-Thought February 9, 2011

Posted by Peter Varhol in Publishing.

I made my first air trip with my Barnes and Noble Nook last week.  I stocked up with several e-books ahead of time (including the wonderful H. Ryder Haggard tale King Solomon’s Mines for ninety-nine cents), so I had no chance of running out of reading material.  I took a paperback with me to read during taxi, takeoff, and touchdown, but used the e-reader virtually everywhere else that I had a few minutes of downtime.

(My one regret was just missing Neil Armstrong in the Cincinnati Delta Sky Club.  I arrived just in time to hear a fellow tell whoever would listen that he recognized Armstrong leaving the club just as he was arriving, and shook his hand.  Regrettably, he had to explain to a couple of people who he was.  I met Armstrong once before, when he gave a talk to my Boy Scout council’s Eagle Scout class in the 1970s).

As usual, I read more than I figured I would, but wasn’t worried about running out of content.  And my overall experiences remain generally positive.

One area that needs a complete re-thinking is e-reader search.  There are several good features that let you find your way though a book – bookmarks, highlight, reading now (takes you to where you left off in the last book you were reading), and notes.

But search is pretty much the old-fashioned “enter a word or a phrase”.  That’s a bit disappointing.

That’s not how I need to search a book.  I almost never read a book all the way through in only one or two sittings.  Sometimes, depending on what I’m doing and how busy I am, it can take two or more weeks of anywhere from five minutes to an hour of reading at one time.  When I get farther along in a book, I often realize that I need to re-familiarize myself with a character or scene from an earlier passage.  The problem is that I never bookmarked it, not knowing that I’d have to return, and that you can’t effectively search for a scene based on a word or phrase.

We need associative search.  In a physical book, I do that by estimating where the earlier passage was, then flipping through the pages.  That won’t work with an e-book.  How do I perform that type of search?  Any suggestions?

Still, it has to be done.



1. E-Reader Search Must Be Re-Thought - February 10, 2011

[…] tale King Solomon's Mines for ninety-nine cents), so I had no chance of running out of reading… [full post] Peter Varhol Cutting Edge Computing publishing 0 0 0 0 […]

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