Article: The e-book era is here (despite reports to the contrary) ?

Subject: Article: The e-book era is here (despite reports to the contrary) ?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 11:52:46 -0400

Jenise Cook wonders: <<Do you find this article agrees with your experience? >>

The article sounds reasonably sensible. As techwhirlers, we've known that
reference information has been moving increasingly online (exclusively
online, for some of us) for close to a decade now, so the article doesn't
reveal anything surprising. It does neatly deflate the dotcom hysteria that
led to predictions of the demise of the printed book.

What's truly surprises me is that nobody's yet figured out a reasonable
model for converting a paperback novel into an eBook and making money at it.
The way I see it, there are a few essential ingredients:

- A "reader" with the same form factor as a paperback novel, so it's equally
portable. (Weight should be low; I recognize that I'm one of the few
remaining people who doesn't consider 7 pounds too heavy for a laptop
- A screen display that offers roughly double the resolution of a current
monitor, and roughly the same contrast level as paper. (IBM is already
marketing such screens; expect them to hit the consumer market within 5
- An operating system that can accept _all_ current online formats: PDF,
eBook, HTML--whatever, just so long as programmers can easily port the
reader software to this reader. Proprietary standards are a dead end
nowadays, and forcing publishers to restrict their offerings to a single
format is just stupid--to be polite.
- The biggest ingredient? Give away the readers for free (or rent them for a
nominal fee) and charge a fair price for content, just as Cable TV does. I
_won't_ pay $200 for a book reader any more than I'll pay that for a Cable
descrambler; I _will_ pay up to US$5 for a paperback novel moved online,
provided I can keep a copy forevermore (as with paperback books) and don't
have to mortgage the kids to buy the reader.

My prediction*: Within 10 years, and hopefully much sooner, the Cable
companies will get a clue and realize they already have the perfect
distribution system and payment model for eBooks, and will apply their
near-monopoly conditions to make eBooks as ubiquitous as Cable TV.

* Remember, you read it here first. And if anyone remembers this in 10
years, don't forget to mock me if I got it wrong. Heck, if I can throw
stones at Nostradamus, I figure I'm fair game as a target too. <g>


A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and
three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe.

+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
+++ Seybold SFO, Sept. 25-27, in the Adobe Partners Pavilion +++
+++ More info: +++

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