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For my birthday recently (March 27th, in case you want to put it on your birthday calendar 😉 ), my husband gave me a Nook. I had asked for one after doing research on both the Nook and the Kindle. The feature that I really liked was the ability to loan a book to another Nooker (or whatever the appropriate term might be). Also, having WiFi was a big win as connectivity with a borrowed Kindle was poor at my house, where only AT&T and Verizon get a few bars.

But this is really less about the Nook (even though I do have to say there are things that already really bother me, like 95% of books I want to or need to read not being available for it, or only a small number of books actually being available to loan out), and more about what bothers me at a much broader level about the current technology approach to reading.

So to set the stage, I have a Nook, I own many many MANY books (did I say many?) and I own Logos software, which I adore and which is essential for seminary success. Right now, Logos has excellent prices on many books I would like to own during its March Madness campaign. I scooped up a couple over the past few days, but here is where the dilemma presents itself, which also brings me to the start of my dream scenario around my literary needs.

I now own books on all three platforms: the physical printed book, Logos and on the Nook. I paid for all three of them. While that is a very efficient way to use the information my books convey to me, quite frankly, it makes it a very expensive proposition. Here is what I dream of in an ideal reader’s world:

  • I buy one book (for a reasonable premium) and with this purchase have the option of using it on all my digital platforms – and own the print book if I choose to do so (and have the shelf space).
  • A digital pen allows me to highlight in the pages of my print book or on my Nook or in Logos – and I can synchronize across all these platforms. This technology already exists, e.g. a company where I currently do some consulting work deploys such a digital pen already for mark-ups on architectural drawings.
  • A voice input or keyboard input device allows me to take notes (with word completion, please!) – and again, synchronizes across all platforms (well, maybe not the print book, but that’s acceptable).
  • From any of the digital devices, I can assemble a printout to collate all my highlighted passages and notes.

That’s it. I am done dreaming for the time being. Oh wait. One more. Make it retroactive, so I don’t have to buy my book for the fourth time – or at least give me some sort of credit. Oh how wonderfully easy life could be. Not sure book publishers and technology providers are quite ready for my dream – and especially for the collaboration it would necessitate.

Dear Book Publishers, dear Technology Company: I would be happy to act as your consultant! I read books all day long, and I managed very large global software projects. Feel free to reach out to me.