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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turning the ebook page (again)

Chris Morrison at Business 2.0 has the latest spin on the (hardly inexolerable) rise of the EBook..

Back in 2000, the handheld electronic book was thought to be as much a part of the future as MP3s, broadband video, and ad-supported websites. That year, Forrester Research predicted $251 million in sales of e-book content by 2005. It seemed a modest goal, but today the market is so small that Forrester doesn't even track it. Held back by a lack of available titles and stifling copy protection, the e-book reader gathered dust while other dotcom-era innovations flourished.
But one part of the stalled e-book industry could yet surprise us: electronic paper. At the forefront of the technology is E-Ink, a company spun off from MIT in 1997. E-Ink's thin film display functions as a screen and looks much more natural than its LCD counterparts. Instead of using standard pixels, e-paper contains millions of microcapsules that change color when an electric charge is sent through them - mimicking the look of real ink on real paper, without any backlight to hurt your eyes. The power required is negligible.
Right now e-paper is still married to bulky devices like the Sony Reader and the Motorola MotoFone, which use e-paper in their displays. But in the next three years, according to E-Ink, e-paper will become untethered. E-Ink customers like Samsung and LG Philips have already created 14-inch color displays nearly as thin as a piece of paper.
E-paper's success, says Lawrence Gasman, principal analyst at tech research firm NanoMarkets, "depends not so much on the technology as on designers coming up with cool stuff." In 2008, for example, U.K.-based Polymer Vision will launch the Readius, a mobile device with a flexible 5-inch e-paper display that unfurls like a scroll.
By 2010, look for stand-alone e-paper that plugs into your laptop to update its content. Eventually e-paper could display video and contain tiny Wi-Fi chips to update itself on the go. (E-Ink has demonstrated paper with limited Internet connectivity.)
If that makes you think of the moving, self-updating newspaper featured in the movie Minority Report, you're on the right track, says Kenneth Bronfin, president of interactive media for Hearst and chairman of E-Ink's board of directors. "The dollar you pay for your newspaper doesn't even pay the printing costs," he says. "If there was a device that newspapers could give consumers to eliminate the printing cost, the economics could really work." Sign up for a two-year subscription to an e-paper, he suggests, and you might get the device for free. E-Ink's profit in such a venture would be more than paper-thin.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lets party like its, er 2009

Russell Wilcox, CEO of E Ink in the US, has made some predictions about when technology will mean we can view magazines in an "e paper" format.

Interviewed by BtoB Magazine, Wilcox noted that :

"Currently, you can see e-paper being used in trade paperbacks. It’s a small portion of the retail world, like the Internet was at first. There’s speculation that Amazon will come out with a device. By next year there will be more than 10 companies selling electronic book readers. All of these are monochrome and around six inches wide. Next year you’ll also see bigger sizes, like eight-inch and 10-inch screen sizes, and by 2009 you’ll see 11- and 12-inch screen sizes. As they get bigger and bigger, they get to be a more and more appropriate way for magazine publishers to publish. The order for us is books, newspapers, magazines. Once we get beautiful color and images, we’ll go into the magazine world. That’ll be a year or two."


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lost in translation?

Exact Editions, who produce The Spectator, Prospect Magazine and others here in the UK, are venturing into continental Europe with the launch of a French operation.

The first magazine to be "digitized" in France is Le Monde diplomatique, the monthly spin off from respected French daily Le Monde.

Exact say this will be the first of a number of new products on their french store so we'll keep you abreast of developments.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Let's party like its (still) 1999

Its like deja vu at the moment.

Microsoft's Table (now known as Surface) computers were demoed on the ITV News last night - roughly 4 years after they first emerged at Comdex in the US.

Now the latest ebooks article has hit the national newspapers, with the Telegraph's Daniel Lee submitting the by now obligatory think piece on "We could soon be able to read all our books electronically".

If only. Read the whole article here