Thursday, February 21, 2013

Imagining the 3D digital bookshelf of the future

How can digital books be displayed more efficiently and aesthetically? Currently, most eBook programs use a 2D bookshelf or an iTunes-like cover flow display. 

2D digital bookshelf
[Source: http://www.authormedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/shelfari.jpg]

Digital media give us the freedom to explore new ways to display books. Google engineers created the 3D "Infinite Bookshelf". It is a compromise between a traditional bookshelf view while accommodating large amounts of books (One effect of switching from physical books to eBooks is that one can store a much larger collection of books  than one would ever own in physical form). The "Infinite Bookshelf" is an infinite 3D helix that you can spin side-to-side and up and down with your mouse. It holds 3D models of more than 10,000 titles from Google Books

Google 3D Infinite Bookshelf
[Source: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6219/6258962915_b1b16ef550_b.jpg]
Each row represents books belonging to the same genre. The books are organized into 28 genres/subjects. To choose a subject, click the subject button near the top of your screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book shows the cover and the first page with a link to google books and a QR code  that’s in the bottom left corner of the page, using a QR code app likeGoogle Goggles. Try the "Infinite Bookshelf" demo here.

This short video explains the functionality of the bookshelf.



Without physical bookshelves, there is no more shelf-snooping when you visit somebodies home or office. The books we have on display show our intellectual heritage and interests. Discovering that a new acquaintance read the same book is a great start for a conversation. But how can that happen if all our books are stored electronically? Do we give a new acquaintance acces to our shelfari,  goodreads, or calibre accounts? Will we have wall-sized touch-screens displaying our digital libraries?
Browsing Google's Infinite Bookshelf (at Google NY)
Will we have physical book-dummies on display? Once we are all wearing google glasses, will visitors be able to see my personal library displayed on a wall?

While Google's Infinite Bookshelf is an interesting concept, I wonder why a digital 3D library couldn't look more like this:
Clementinum National Library (Czech Republic) 
Jedi Temple Library (aka Trinity College Library, Ireland)
I imagine a 3D digital library that links to my eBook collection (e.g. on goodreads or calibre) and displays books from each genre on a different book shelf (and one shelf for to-be-read). I could give visitors full or partial access to the library and allow them to borrow books. I hope that somebody will take on the task of creating beautiful 3D digital libraries for personal use.

See more pictures of beautiful libraries here and here

4 comments:

  1. A fake "bookshelf" to replace a *real* bookshelf..."no more shelf-snooping"...

    Good god...you people are helping to destroy the printed word.

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  2. Interesting! Do you think is possible to create a VR bookstore to show all the Calibre Library (in my case I have 40 thousand books), walk throughout the store, pick a book and paste it to the device to read it?

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