Thursday, December 16, 2010

We want user-control

Look at MegaReader, an app which gives easy access to over a million free books from various places around the web. That's cool in itself, but what I really like is that it also gives the reader choices of:

  • 23 fonts
  • Step-less choice of colors for text and background
  • Step-less choice of font size
  • Control of margin width
  • ... and so on

Now why don't we get that in the big fancy readers from Apple, Amazon, and B&N? Some of them only have one font, in four or six sizes, and one or two options for background. Do they think their customers are all sheep who get confused by too many choices? Or don't they have software engineers who can do this stuff? If it's the first one, that certainly goes against Microsoft's philosophy when making Windows 95 where you can customize everything, and Windows became omnipresent.


Stephen A said...

That's why I rooted my color nook immediately after purchase. I personally use Aldiko as my default reader but always enjoy having as much control as possible not only in font but in color of the foreground and background.

This has immense practical implications as well, I'm a physicist so I need special fonts and typesetting, I also read Japanese and Russian thus requiring those fonts. I have several friends with low vision from degraded retinas. Control of contrast, brightness font, spacing and size is nothing short of essential for them. The Andika font is said to be of particular utility in this regard.

My philosophy is provide unlimited user control layered beneath a set of well thought out presets. I think much of the resistance to user-control is a result of the control-freak mentality which pervades dedicated e-books and Apple products (DRM, app store review polices, Steve Jobs' personality).

eolake said...

Well said, but I think you got a bit trigger-happy there at the end; I don't think Steve Jobs can be blamed for the Kindle and Kindle apps only having one or two choices of fonts and colors. :-)