The Future of E-Books
We asked publishers: "What is your take on the future of e-books? What impact do you think they'll have on book publishing within a couple of years and on the way your company produces books?"
John Calvano, editorial operations manager, Time Inc. Home Entertainment, New York City:
"Of course, issues such as e-books and our company's impending merger with AOL create an 'open book' with regards to the digital asset of our content. Barring technological hurdles at present, our largely pictorial products are not as well suited for an e-book format as they are for a larger color screen.
"They feasibly could be delivered electronically to, say, a PC or TV. However, our text-oriented financial books, almanacs, etc., do fit the mold, which affects the way we'd prepare these products to accommodate both print and e-books simultaneously. This could be e-books' immediate impact, and not until they get widespread public acceptance would they infringe upon print quantities."
Michael Ross, executive vice president and publisher, World Book, Chicago
"E-books will grow; we believe that Palmware will grow, and we are working on a PalmPilot version of World Book Encyclopedia now with a group in California.
"E-books will have a huge impact on publishing, and I think it will increase the category overall. I see little real cannibalism ahead in the near term. However, once the electronic ink can truly mimic ink on paper, there will be an even greater chance that e-books will perhaps erode the distribution of certain print products."
Brian Smith, director of corporate purchasing, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, Md.:
"Alternative ways of publishing are going to be not just necessarily related to e-books. There are going to be more formidable ways of transferring information in the future. There also will be many other alternatives to print.
"I can't really say whether they will be e-books or CDs or Internet-based tools. I don't know if any of us are completely sure of that, but we will be actively pursuing those alternative methods for providing information to our customers, as we are today. We're preparing our data in a format that will allow us to take any of those paths very comfortably."
Marion Mullauer, chief information officer, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, Md.:
"I think the new paradigm and opportunity in publishing is to have access to content when needed whether it be an entire book or just excerpts of information. One of the alternatives we'll have is to be able to produce the appropriate content that you can download to, say, a PalmPilot, or to the new wireless phone technology. We're actively looking at the downloads to PDAs. Our market research tells us that many medical people are turning to PDAs because of their portability and small form factor."