Is the Sony Reader the library of the future?
by David Skinner
Advertisements for the Sony Reader, a hand-held device for perusing e-books, show pretty, natural settings where fans of literature might go and read away to their brain’s content. The marketers of portable technology have long suggested a kind of objective correlative between the pleasure one takes in their products and the places they are used. So marking up spreadsheets on your laptop while reclining on a tropical beach is much more like reclining on a tropical beach than it is like marking up spreadsheets.
Still, the Reader’s shortcomings prove that whatever stage of development it represents, it is not to literature what the iPod is to music. Pages can be marked to help you find your way back to a passage, and the “continue reading” function returns you to the page reached before the device was last turned off. But pages cannot be marked with marginalia, a common enough practice with books that one hopes–or perhaps the verb “to dream” would be better here–that Sony is trying to figure how to make something like it possible with the Reader.