E-book Industry players seek effective business models
* Readers: "What we don't know is: What will the killer app be? What will really make electronic books take off?"
The next speaker, Martin Eberhard, CEO of NuvoMedia, reiterated that today's devices are not perfect for "immersive reading experiences," but added confidently: "Technology does this well: cheaper, lighter, more durable, more readable."
He predicted that the future will bring e-book editions released before print and authors writing specifically for the e-book market, including use of effects such as sound, video and hypertext links.
Players and approaches
Additional stakeholders of the electronic book industry shared opinions and activities to date.
Dick Brass of Microsoft provided a futuristic timeline (by 2005, Brass predicted, the market for e-book titles will reach $100 billion). Microsoft is joining the fray with a device reader that will be available in the first quarter of 2000. Called the Microsoft Reader, it features Microsoft's ClearType screen display technology. The device will be given away free or at very low cost, a spokesperson for the company confirmed later in a follow-up call.
Robert A. Kelly, director of Journal Information Systems, The American Physical Society, conveyed to the audience the difficulties of translating materials with mathematical formats to other media, including e-books. Today, he explained, all of the Physical Review is online. Articles are "filled with non-text matter," he noted. GIF files proved too big; PDF files work but not for files with lots of annotation; an experiment with XML and the Internet Xplorer 5 browser conducted with the University of Illinois proved promising; it is allowing formatting of equations on the fly.
Representing CENSA, the Collaborative Electronic Notebook Systems Association, Rich Lysakowski, executive director, noted that "as digital technology records creation rates accelerate, businesses are depending more and more on complex technologies to use and access documents." Some important attributes of paper documents that are often taken for granted should not be overlooked; at times a paper record may be required until and unless technology finds solutions for the following