Developer Joey Castillo’s Open Book is a work-in-progress eBook reader featuring a small E Ink display, open source software, and open hardware — detailed descriptions of most components are printed right on the circuit board.
I wrote about the Open Book Project in December, and since then a few key things have happened. The hardware is almost finished (although the software still needs some work). And the project was selected as winner of HackADay’s Take Flight with Feather contest, which means that at least 100 Open Book Project boards will be manufactured and made available for folks to purchase.
Adafruit will be handling the manufacturing, and Digi-Key will eventually be selling Open Book boards. It’s unclear at this point how much they’ll cost or exactly when they’ll be available.
But if you want to see what the Open Book looks like as of last week, Castillo posted a video of a fully assembled version with a wood body and preliminary software:
For more detail about the state of the book, I made a 90-second video showing and explaining the (very) simple software for book reading, so far. As a side note: zeroing in on a wooden case design! Stained, laser-cut 1/16″ basswood + nylon screws. Need to try some hardwoods next! pic.twitter.com/2sfoBqNnTW
— joey castillo (@josecastillo) January 23, 2020
The system features a 4.2 inch, 400 x 300 pixel ePaper display, a SAMD51 ARM Cortex-M4 32-bit processor, a microSD card reader, 7 buttons for navigation, status LED lights, a headset jack, and a micro USB port.
It’s not the most powerful eBook reader around, but it’s certainly one of the most open/hacker-friendly.
You can find more details at Github and HackADay or by following Castillo on Twitter.
I support this idea. A LOT. I find such e-readers such amazing little devices that need to be open-source and totally hackable. I have been tinkering around a kindle that was dumped on my lap and I found the durability, low-energy consumption of e-ink and the refreshing minimalism to be worth investigating and investing. I consider them the equivalent of a feature phone vs smartphones.
I had a Kobo since 2013 that died in 2019. So i bought a kindle which is ok as i can change other formats to .txt or kindle’s asw3(?) In my desktop on Calibre SW. But kindle is lousy. They dominate the ereader market so no real need to remove deficiencies or improve. Eg, the go back 1 page doesnt work, randomly takes you back. Finding one book in the reader is a pain. Kobo had sideways led lights to read in the dark. My Kindle doesnt.
So would I welcome a new ereader? Yes, if reviews show it meets my needs
I don’t want to be a party pooper as I think it is interesting that people are looking to create an open-source eReader but what use is this really? Hardware-wise (and I suspect software-wise) a 1st generation Kindle from 2007 would be futuristic beside it (well, it had a 6 inch display even then). And while Kindles may have limited support for different file types, there are other commercial eReaders available with better file format support. Alternatively, Kindle users can read most file formats out there either by converting them via Amazon’s Send To Kindle service or via Calibre (a great open-source eReader, file converter and more – re-purposing the Calibre eReading software for this project might even be a good option). However, I just don’t see a major end user need or gap that still needs to be filled – so I believe this one is likely to remain an enthusiast/hobbyist endeavor for the foreseeable future.
the current readers have severe limitations to the usability and are pretty locked down. Yes you can import whatever you want to them but you’re locked to whatever fonts and screensavers and themes that they decide you can use.
MobileReads has a good breakdown of what the community wants out of their readers if you want to take a dive into that.
Here’s why I want an open-source reader:
* No need to worry about data-mining from evil corporations like Amazon
* No need to worry about my books being removed from the device at the whims of the publisher, or, indeed, Amazon
* Ability to keep my own highlights and notes within my own ecosystem instead of having them exist in somebody else’s cloud
I really don’t care about file formats, fonts, or X, Y, Z, features – I want a simple device that has a screen and some navigation. Notes and highlights etc. would be great but not necessary.
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