An e-book projector? Kindle vet sees big hardware changes, and lower prices

A new book by Jason Merkoski, a former Amazon manager who was an early leader of the company’s Kindle team, tells the inside story of the company’s efforts to reinvent reading, and looks ahead to envision how the future of digital books could unfold.

One of his predictions: the devices that we use to consume books will get smaller, cheaper, and work nothing like they do today.

merkoski

Jason Merkoski

Merkoski’s book, Burning the Page, includes a chapter that sketches out his vision for a small, inexpensive Pico projector — an “Amazon Microbook,” he calls it — that would display the contents of a book on any surface, such as the bedroom ceiling at night. Readers could even project the content onto the pages of a blank physical book.

Merkoski, who left Amazon in 2010, is careful to note that he’s not aware of any plans by Amazon or anyone else to build such a device, but the concept is in line with Amazon’s push to significantly reduce the price of hardware over time.

“This sort of device could socialize reading by making a book available to you and a close circle of friends,” he writes. “I can see this being used in reading groups, university study groups, or of course, in the privacy of your own bedroom. The biggest benefit of this type of device is its cost. Shrink the surface area of a device down to nothing, and you’ve made a cheap, hands-free reading device.”

Published by Sourcebooks, Merkoski’s book was released today in digital form, including a Kindle version, with a print version expected in August.