For those of you who haven't purchased an e-reader because you think you'd miss the experience and feel of turning pages, take a look at this prototype and ask yourself if it's really worth it.
Recognizing that e-readers feel absolutely nothing like reading a real book, a research group from Osaka University has invented a device called Paranga that attempts to duplicate the feel of flipping through pages using a wheel of paper strips attached to a sensor.
Yes, it's about as awkward as it sounds, watch:
I mean, kudos for trying to solve the problem and all, but let's just think for a minute about why people flip through pages in the first place. It's because they're trying to find something, right? A page, or a chapter? Well, don't most e-readers come with a search function that is much more effective? Like, I totally understand that the tactile experience of reading a book is important, but I just don't think that the specific experience of ruffling the pages as you look for something is what anyone's really going to miss.
Personally, when I buy an e-book, it's going to be on thin, flexible, full color e-paper with integrated batteries. It's going to be maybe 15 pages long or so. And when I get to page 15, I'm going to be able to flip it over and it's going to display pages 16-30. That's the best of both worlds, I think, and it's definitely coming.
Undeterred, the folks behind Paranga want to turn their prototype into a peripheral that you can use with things like iPads to let you flip through virtual pages while you're reading.