Ebooks have been around for around a decade now and although they have become a force to be reckoned with, they never really made paper books go extinct. Especially in Japan, where, unlike their Western counterparts, comics, more popularly known around the world as “manga”, continue to be enjoyed in their original paper format. One Japanese company is trying to change that by combining the best of both worlds into an ebook reader that can be used to read one and only one content: 18 volumes of “Hokuto no Ken”, or “Fist of the North Star”.
Why do people prefer paper books even when ebooks exist? It mostly has to do with the tactile feel of paper as well as the simplicity of their use. You don’t have to charge it, you don’t have to worry about visibility under bright light, and you definitely don’t need to learn how to use it.
But ebooks also have distinct advantages. You can compile numerous books into one device, allowing you to carry as many books as you want in the space of one. You don’t have to wearing about wearing and tearing the paper down over use. And you can easily switch between books or even between versions of the book.
The “Fist of North Star” eOneBook merges all those qualities into one easy to use ebook reader in the form of a two-screen book. It’s so easy to use you only need to open it to turn it on and close it to turn it off. It’s so simple to use that you can’t even load any other ebook. At least not without some heavy duty hacking. It tries so hard to offer the same tactile feel of paper books that its case is actually made out of paper that you can scrub with your thumb (and maybe doodle some flip book animations on). Which explains why it’s thicker than two ebook readers on top of each other.
It still has some of the advantages of regular ebook readers, though. Aside from being able to contain all 18 volumes of the hit manga, it actually holds both English and Japanese versions of it. You can quickly switch between the two languages by hitting a single button. Unlike most ebook readers, however, the eOneBook is powered by AAA batteries, because charging makes it feel more like an electronic device than a book.
The Fist of the North Star eOneBook is an idea that is both amusing yet also sensible, as it tries to address pain points from both sides of the fence. And, judging by how much it has already raised on Kickstarter, it’s an idea that has resonated with many people. Who knows? Maybe the idea will catch on and we’ll soon be seeing volumes of paper books replaced by one ebook reader disguised as a paper book on a bookstore shelf.