At MacWorld yesterday, Apple introduced the new MacBook Air, an ultra-thin laptop that incorporates many features developed for the much smaller iPhone, including three that will easily have implications for any future iReader, particularly on the touchpad. First, it downloads and plays music and film. Second, Air is totally wireless (picture the Apple techies punning as they developed the device). Imagine downloading any of the 2 million books Google is now digitizing directly to an iReader. Third, the screen text, graphics and sound allow manipulation of text and graphics. To increase font size, you put your thumb and index finger on the touchpad and simply draw them apart. To reduce the size, you do the opposite. To move to the next page on a web site, you swipe a finger across the touchpad (imagine the ease of turning pages in a book: no need to lick your finger, like in the old days).
But will the future ebook have pages? Openlibrary.org, whose approach already seems outdated, included a transitional technology that made the electronic page seem as if it were turning like a traditional paper one, complete with the sound of rustling. We’re beyond the need for accommodation in transition. Even the discussion of whether ebooks are the wave of the future seems to be over. In ten years, what will have replaced e-ink?