Friday, September 03, 2004

e-book reader alert

There's always a lot of talk about e-books at work, seeing as, as a publisher we are either 'under-threat' or 'poised to take advantage' of electronic publishing, depending how seriously you take the idea of copyright infringement (and some of our authors take it very seriously indeed). Personally, I find it as hard to believe that paper is under threat as I do CDs or records. Equally, I can't see why anyone would want to read a book on screen, especially as the idea of everyone reading from an electronic gadget hasn't really led anywhere yet. Unless I'm just behind the times, which the following product would suggest.

I read about the SONY Librie in the Guardian a few months ago and was interested by what they said, but this, via Blog.org, is the first time I've seen it. It's a reasonably handsome object, I guess, and, apparently, better than you'd think:

"The quality of the display will come as quite a shock to any seasoned user of mobile devices; it looks more like paper than the computer screen it is. The closest comparison is to think of old-fashioned ink on pulp you're likely holding now, unless you're reading this online, in which case the Librie looks far better."

Fortune.com is less impressed with the copyright side of things, though:

"All in all, the device itself is a marvel, but unfortunately it's crippled by an unclever proprietary copyright protection scheme—let's call it "copywrong." (Sony calls it Open MG.) The scheme basically puts the rights of the publisher ahead of the convenience of the user. Only 1,139 titles are available for downloading from the electronic library, mostly books in Japanese, with a few hoary tomes in English like Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. Currently there are no newspapers or magazines on the virtual shelves."

I'm not surprised. But I've not quite given up on e-books yet*; things will improve. Who wants an Apple, i-pod style reader, then?

*as an idea, at least. But the idea of doing away with my paperback book, scuffed at the edges and tearing away from the spine? No thanks.

1 comment:

Tim Rutherford-Johnson said...

"All in all, the device itself is a marvel, but unfortunately it's crippled by an unclever proprietary copyright protection scheme—let's call it "copywrong." (Sony calls it Open MG.) The scheme basically puts the rights of the publisher ahead of the convenience of the user. Only 1,139 titles are available for downloading from the electronic library, mostly books in Japanese, with a few hoary tomes in English like Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth"

So there's more than one way that it resembles the world of iPods and iTunes then ...