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Recycle your forgotten ebook reader by turning it into a literary quote clock

Image used with permission by copyright holder

With the amount of electronic waste that’s thrown away each year (up to 50 million tons per annum), we’re excited by any project which involves recycling gadgets in an innovative, environmentally friendly way. That’s what Netherlands-based Jaap Meijers has achieved with a stunningly original way of revitalizing his old Kindle — by transforming the e-reader into a cool clock that displays constantly changing literary quotations.

“My girlfriend is a teacher and scholar of English literature,” Meijers told Digital Trends. “She wanted a clock for her living room, and that got me thinking. I first thought of using quotations from books. Then I started wondering what to use as a display. I like e-ink displays because they are cool, and because they use so little electricity; so I fairly quickly realized how perfect and appropriate the e-ink display of an e-reader would be for this project.”

What makes Meijers’ clock super-nifty is that the quotations aren’t just random: each one actually contains a written reference to that time of day, which appears in place of a numerical time stamp. So rather than reading 19:59 like a regular clock, you’ll get the line — from Diane Setterfield’s 2006 novel The Thirteenth Tale — “Quickly quickly. A minute to eight. My hot water bottle was ready, and I filled a glass with water from the tap. Time was of the essence.”

Considering that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, finding literary mentions of all of them would have been a gargantuan undertaking for one person. Fortunately, Meijers found that the U.K. newspaper The Guardian had already crowdsourced such a list in 2011 by asking their readers to submit quotes.

“What I did was turn each of these quotes into an image and ‘hack’ a second-hand Kindle to show the quotes at the right times,” Meijers said. “The clock doubles as a quiz: only when you press a button on the side of the Kindle will it show you what the title and author for the quote are.” Best of all, if you suddenly decide you need your e-reader back, the clock can be turned off and the Kindle can also still be used as intended.

Because he’s a swell kind of chap, Meijers has made the instructions for his clock available online for anyone who wants to build one. “We’re really in an age where everyone can make almost everything,” he said. “Tutorials on the internet are what makes that possible — besides cheap electronics, open source software, and designs.”

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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