The Missing Gestures in iBooks

Last week I wrote about Apple’s updated iBooks software and textbook initiative. One thing these updates don’t address is how textbooks are actually used in academia. Abused might be a better word.

The KAIST Institute of Information Technology Convergence released this video of their prototype ebook gestural interface on January 8, but it just came to my attention today. Take a look:


Research is messy. Whether it’s a student or professional researcher doing the work, paper books remain an indispensable tool because they can be flipped through, dog-eared, doodled on, fanned out and treated in an altogether rotten manner. Macrumors provides a great breakdown of the gestures KAIST adds that are not currently available on the iPad:

  • Page Flipping, by spreading pages and then flipping through
  • Page Flipping with finger bookmarking
  • Multiple page turning using multiple fingers
  • Faster swipes turning multiple page
  • Longer presses, then swiping can turn multiple pages
  • Writing the page number

Some of these seem tedious (writing the page number?) but the one I’m most interested in is the “page flipping with finger bookmarking.” This is something I do in paper books all the time; I love flipping ahead to see about how many pages are left in a chapter.

Ebook reading apps on the iPad like iBooks and Kindle offer a great many advantages over their print equivalents, (device syncing, text-wide search, non-destructive highlighting and annotating, etc.) but actually moving through books in them is still clunky and slow. I hope this makes it into ebook software soon. These gestures are the missing piece in bringing textbooks and longer academic works to the iPad.