2011 - 2014

Dear Readmill,

I miss you.

The cold, heartless surface of reading on glass paled in comparison to the rustle of turning pages and the delicately grating texture of paper. And yet, you surmounted these sensory pleasures with digital pleasures. The quiet ease of highlighting with precision; the beautifully set type; the library that traveled with me anywhere on any device; the progress bar that championed my success visibly every time I opened you up—championed not with confetti or large blinking images, but with a 3px high progress bar. Keep reading, it whispered, you’re already halfway there.

I miss your humility; your willingness to get out of the way of reading. You prescribed an intense focus on the reading, highlighting or commenting as needed, and leaving impressions in a single text area at the end. Written impressions cannot be reduced to a single number, nor to a reductive thumbs up or thumbs down. Instead, it is a reflection of me at a particular place and time with the book. The beauty of change is made concrete through rereading and revisiting my impressions.

Your origin story came from a re-reader who gathered annotations, thoughts, and highlights that were “stuck in one copy,” unseen to all; trapped thoughts waiting to breathe. How many others were there? you wondered.

While the impetus of your birth may have been motivated by releasing these trapped thoughts, you eloquently “balanced between letting the network in and keeping it out of the way”:

Unlike other services, Readmill didn’t try to gamify the user experience either. There are no badges, no tokens or fancy illustrated circles that [the reader] wins whilst finishing a book or performing a certain action. The reward is the reading.

The reward is the reading. What better definition of a successful electronic book application is there? Especially a definition that comes with the approval from your favorite literature teachers?

Echoing others, Readmill, you made me start reading ebooks. I have stumbled backwards in time without you. Each paper cut and every heavier bag hurts a little bit more now.

Rest In Peace, Readmill.