Turning Content Into Gold
While the sheer economics of new technologies are virtually certain to drive publishers in the direction of e-publishing, these technologies are still in their infancy. In the long term, it seems likely the Pocket PC with Microsoft Reader will be remembered more for opening the door to serious alliances between publishers and computer makers.
However, the opening of this door is itself a significant development. Unlike earlier efforts of high-tech upstarts to popularize e-books, publishing giants such as Simon & Schuster and Time Warner can attract and meet large-scale consumer demands. They also control large catalogs of good books. As is often the case with new technologies, it appears a once-revolutionary concept now will start to be co-opted by powerful industry players as the technologies mature.
Whether the release of Microsoft Reader represents a leap forward on the map of publishing's electronic future or only a modest stretch of new ground, the summer of 2000 may well be remembered for bringing the end of the road closer to view.