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Two ideas that will change the way we read

In media, technology on 9 June 2009 at 8:07 am

Two new pieces of technology are about to change the way readers can have words delivered to them.

iceberg

The first was demonstrated during Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference keynote address this morning.

The Iceberg Reader, by ScrollMotion, brings an experience similar to Amazon’s Kindle reader to users of the Apple iPhone and iPod touch, with the addition of more tactile page-turning, skimming, search and other options. And, of course, colour. With 40 million iPhones already in use, the uptake of the Iceberg app will be faster than sales of the single-function Kindle.

ScrollMotion have already partnered with Random House, Hachette, Penguin Putnam, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Simon & Schuster. It’s not difficult to believe that they’ll have more publishers looking for partnerships soon. The book demonstrated at WWDC – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers – was $9.99, although there’s no word yet on pricing.

In addition to a million book titles, they promise 50 “major” magazine titles and 170 newspapers will be available. It’s due for launch following the release of the new iPhone operating system on 17 June.

The second innovation is a free, online tool called Zinepal. This easy-to-use tool lets you select content from blogs or RSS feeds and quickly edit in or out individual articles, before it assembles them all into a printable PDF or eBook format. You can store it on the site (like you can with collections of links on Instapaper), or you can print it out in a number of formats.

Zinepal

Personalised zines can also be made public, so you can browse via keywords to see other people’s zines and subscribe to them as well.

To me, Zinepal is an intermediate step between reading everything directly on a site and reading via an RSS feed reader. You can choose to have a particular set of feeds assembled and emailed to you at a time you decide. This sort of flexibility – being able to read nothing but tech articles from 15 different sources, or the latest posts from your favourite blogs – is exactly what single-source news providers cannot achieve. Being able to print provides an option for readers who need or prefer paper versions.

Being able to instantly download any of an enormous number of books, magazines or newspapers to read offline changes the way we will consume them. Being able to assemble the content of an ezine according to our taste, rather than the “push” model of traditional media, gives readers new choices – and new challenges for content makers.

Update: In an interview today with Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto, Rupert Murdoch was asked about the future of the Boston Globe: “Like all newspapers, I think it will change. We think of newspapers in the old-fashioned way, printed on crushed wood so to speak, with ink. It’s going to be digital. Within 10 years I believe nearly all newspapers will be delivered to you digitally either on your PC or on a development of the Kindle, shall we say…something that’s quite mobile and you can take around with you.”

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  1. Awesome app, it will be interesting to see if magazines will make a iPhone version of their mag, similar to their Handbag versions.

    Although there is something nice and casual about reading a magazine, having the ease of having everything you need all in one spot is compelling.

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