There’s no shortage of devices designed for reading eBooks. But whether you’re using a Kindle, Kobo, or Nook device or something else entirely, you’re probably running proprietary software on proprietary hardware.

The Open Book Project is an effort to build… something more open. It’s still a work in progress, but the design files are shared at github which means that not only can anyone try to build their own, but you can also modify the designs to add or remove features.

Developer Joey Castillo has been documenting progress of the project on Twitter, via an email newsletter, and a post at Hacakday.io.

open book feather
Open Book Feather (via https://github.com/joeycastillo/The-Open-Book)

Castillo says the software is still under development, but as of November, the “Open Book board is probably 90% of the way there.” While the board needs to be custom printed, the bill of materials for all the other necessary components is available at github, showing that it takes about $60 in parts to assemble an Open Book Feather device.

There’s also a cheaper E-Book Feather Wing, but it lacks some features including support for stereo audio output (it’s mono only) and a microphone.

Both versions feature 4.2 inch, 400 x 300 pixel electronic paper displays, microSD card readers for storage, headphone jacks, and 7 buttons for navigation.

Models with mic support can be used not only as eReaders and/or MP3 and audiobook players, but they can also be programmed to support voice input.

One thing that sets the Open Book Project apart from most DIY hardware projects? Not only is there plenty of documentation available online, but there’s documentation printed right onto the board itself.

On the back, each section of the board is clearly labeled, and there’s tiny text that explains exactly what hardware is used and other things you may need to know including voltage, pin layout, and more.

The front of the device, meanwhile, has assembly instructions.

You can see a prototype Open Book Feather board in action at about the 15 minute mark in a recent Adafruit Show and Tell video:

Or see what it takes to assemble one in a time-lapse video from Joey Castillo:



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6 Comments

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  1. WIth Kobo supporting epub, epub3 and pdf, I don’t worry about needing custom hardware that supports those formats. Kobo also works great with most public libraries, something that custom hardware/software probably doesn’t.

    1. Custom hardware can’t work with libraries. They use DRM to make the books auto expire. Normally I hate anything that smells of DRM but there really isn’t any other way a library can “lend” an e-book so there is that.

  2. I am tempted to build a small e-ink tablet there are loads of e-ink displays for sale as spare parts what would it take to mate one to a SOC?

  3. Suspect the selected SoC is a little underpowered for an ebook, at least if it is going to read standard epub. If so there will need to be a PC based application to predigest books into some simpler format. The screen also might be just a bit below the minimum viable size / resolution.

    But it does show an ebook can be made in quantity 1 for less than a hundred. One with specs on par with an old Nook Simple Touch probably wouldn’t raise the quantity 100 price above $100ea.

  4. Hmm interesting concept, I congratulate for openness. Yet personally i think its overdone, I would print titles only, leaving small lettering on the board as overlay (like a film covering), but thats mere aesthetics not to negate his hard efforts.