The eOneBook isn’t so much an electronic book reader as it is an electronic book. It opens and closes like a book. When it’s open there are dual E Ink displays, one on the left and another on the right. And it even comes with a book jacket.

But that’s not where the similarities end, because the eOneBook isn’t designed to let you load your own content or buy new eBooks. It comes with content preloaded, and that’s all you get.

Japanese company Progress Technologies introduced the eOneBook last year and ran a Kickstarter campaign for the project. Now Progress Technologies is showing off an updated version of the device at the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s set to start shipping in February.

The new model has the same basic functionality as its predecessor. But there are six navigation buttons instead of four. Instead of just pressing page turn buttons on the left or right side of the screen to move forward or back, you can use the buttons to move through pages, chapters, or episodes (volumes).

The updated eOneBook still comes with the same content: 18 volumes of Fist of the North Star. That’s the complete set of this popular manga, and the idea is that you can fit all 18 into a device the size of one book.

You do have to pay a premium for that convenience though: the Fist of North Star eOneBook is expected to sell for $300 when it goes on sale soon. That’s a lot of money for an eReader that only lets you read a single series of books.

On the other hand, what you’re getting is essentially the hardware equivalent of two Kindles, plus a set of 18 books. So the price isn’t really unreasonable… if you really want to read this particular series and don’t have space for the whole set of books on your shelf.

Manga is a pretty good fit for this sort of gadget. While a single-screen device like a Kindle or Nook is fine for most books, Manga is a visual medium that sometimes includes content that’s meant to span two pages. And unlike many other forms of comics and graphic novels, manga is usually black and and white.

Oh, and since the eOneBook displays manga digitally, you can switch the language in speech bubbles between Japanese and English (or potentially other languages) just by tapping a button.

While the first eOneBook will ship with Fist of the North Star, Progress Technologies hopes to partner with publishers to release additional devices that come loaded with a different set of content.

 

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7 replies on “Hands-on with the eOneBook’s new dual-screen E Ink manga reader”

  1. While I think that is really neat, it seems like a lot of money for one book even if it is all 13 volumes.

    It would be neat if they had a version for ones that had a whole series of books; ie, the 80 plus books by Agatha Christie, all the books on Batman, youthful collections like Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Hardy Boys Mysteries, The Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.

    1. Other uses could be the back issues of magazines; Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, etc. or even magazines no longer in print or only as e-magazines; Mechanics Illustrated.

  2. A few years ago I thought I’d have a color e-paper device by now to read comics on. But even thou the technology exist nobody seems so keen on producing actual products. So far my Pebble has the biggest color e-paper screen I’ve ever seen in person. So maybe in another decade.

  3. Since its a hands-on, what’s you opinion on the quality of the device? As for value, that depends more on the individual (if the can work out the partnerships to get a good selection I could totally see it being worth out. There’s a series I want but it’s 39 volumes and seven bucks plus tax for each one. I’ll and up buying it eventually but if this happened to come out with that series as an option before I start buying them…Well it’d be a perfect fit if priced appropriately.

    1. I only had a few minutes to play with it, but it felt pretty good. It’s thicker than a typical eReader, obviously, and a bit heavier. But it’s no heavier than a thick paperback book and aesthetically it feels quite similar.

      The line line separating the screens will make 2-page layouts a little less attractive than they’d be on paper or on a device with a single large display.

      Overall it seems like a quirky, but kind of charming device. It does seem unnecessarily restrictive to lock it to a certain set of content, because obviously the hardware could handle additional titles. But if you think of it as a book rather than a reader, it’s almost compelling.

      FWIW, when I was at the booth a representative from a US publishing company stopped by. She was also intrigued… until she found out how much the thing sells for. People just won’t spend that much on a book she said and then walked away.

      1. It sounds like whoever the rep works for doesn’t publish coffee table books!

        Also: “manga” doesn’t need to be capitalized.

      2. She’s right in a way. Even with people who buy these huge collections of manga it won’t be am easy sell as they normally buy them piecemeal, only having to pay a small amount each time they finish a volume. There is a market but it is definitely niche.

        As for the seam, I think it’s a trade-off. With many manga the two page spreads are not seamless anyway, either from a lack of quality control it from the simple fact that to truly see it properly good have to flatten the book, thereby ruining the spine. Otherwise you’re trying to make it the details in the device between pages. Remember that the manga format is more akin to paperbacks than comic books.

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