The Internet Archive’s BookReader got a lot attention at the Books in Browsers conference at IA headquarters in San Francisco last week. IA engineer Mike Ang gave a  technical talk to conference attendees on using BookReader with a touch interface (iPad, Android). He also did a demo as part of Brewster Kahle’s “Books in Browsers” Keynote which was open to the general public, and that’s mostly what I’ll discuss in this article.

The IA blog article on Kahle’s Keynote has a video that includes Ang’s BookReader demo, with some screenshots from it. But the transcribed text in the article doesn’t include the demo, so I’ll give a little summary here — Ang’s 11-minute demo (16:26-27:40 on the video) includes enhanced search capabilities, audio generation from text, use on an iPad, and the thumbnail view (shown in the picture at left), which I discussed in an earlier article.

Ang said in the demo, and also in the conference session, that his team has the new version of BookReader working well in all browsers except Internet Explorer, and that that’s the main hold-up in releasing the new version. He’s hoping it will be out in the next few weeks.

In the conference session, Ang said that it’s especially difficult to get BookReader to work on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets because “multitouch events” are programmed differently on each different device. I particularly took note of this because I’ve used the current version of BookReader on an iPad, and although it works quite nicely in general, I do notice that it’s fairly slow in pinch zooming. This is also noticeable in Ang’s demo on the video. I hope this problem can be solved — I think BookReader, if it can be made to work smoothly, has great potential on iPad-like tablets — A combination that no doubt seems natural to the people at Internet Archive since, as Ang observed in his demo, the iPad happens to be “the size of a small book.”

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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