Why I want an open-source ereader

Text is great. It's probably my favorite medium. You can consume a ton of it quickly, but you have to consume it actively. It's as machine-readable as it gets.

E-Ink display's are great. They're low power so you barely ever have to charge devices that use them. You can read them outside. I actually like their anachronisticly slow refresh rates, it just makes the feeling of it as an object rather than a display even more pronounced.

Hardware that runs open-source software is great. You can write small scripts to make it do what you want to. You can modify it's interface. It can benefit from a community of users and hackers doing the same.

I want an open-source e-reader for consuming text. Ideally, it's cheap, good enough, and widely distributed. There are so many interested distribution systems for text, from social networks, to blogs, and a device that can be extended to interact with all of them in interesting ways would be hella cool.


These are the features I'd want in my ideal, open-source e-reader:

  • Export notes and annotations in standard format (JSON, CSV, XML, etc)
  • USB-C
  • You can plug in a keyboard and start writing
  • It just runs linux
  • It works based on the file-system. No proprietary formats or databases
  • Any cloud features are well segmented and can turn off
  • It can consume newsletters, blogs, other long form media, maybe via RSS or some other standard.

Why Kobo should open source their software

  • they need to compete with Amazon
  • the toolchain and developer ecosyste and enthusiasm already exists
  • their hardware and book ecosystem actually make the money, better software helps sell that
  • schools and government's are moving towards FOSS, e-readers have a lot of potential beyond private reading, i.e Sony DPT, Remarkable, etc
built with nextjs, mdx, and typescript view source