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Two Major Developments Coming on the E-Book Front

Download Squad points out (as per the NYT) that there are two major developments coming on the e-book front, both serving as a test to see whether books can make it in electronic format.

First is Kindle, a new e-book reader from Amazon to be available in October at a price between $400 and $500. The main selling-point of this new device is that it will wirelessly connect to an e-book store on Amazon’s site. The surprising news is that the e-books are delivered in a proprietary format, not the format of Mobipocket which Amazon bought in 2005. The Kindle will also come with freebies like reference books and the ability to read RSS feeds. But early users complain about it limited web browser.

Call me skeptical, but this seems like a high price tag for an ebook reader…even one with wifi connectivity. And a butt-ugly one at that…check out the image at Engadget.

The second development comes from Google, who plans to leverage its Book Search feature to bring in some cash. Currently you only get snippets of most books through Book Search. A soon-to-be-released upgrade will allow you to access full versions of some books…for a fee. Publishers will set the prices for their own books and share the revenue with Google.

Now this will be interesting to watch…no new device to but, you only pay for the content which, hopefully, is in some already-established format.

Is this the start of the often-predicted Age of e-books?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on Two Major Developments Coming on the E-Book Front

  1. Not so much for the Amazon device but I see the big potential with Google. In many ways, it’s like an iTunes Store for books… that’s incorporated in the search engine.

    More of my thoughts can be seen here (it’s very long and I don’t want to flood the comments): http://charles-tan.blogspot.com/2007/09/breaking-news-in-ebook-industry.html

  2. I’m still hankering for a good e-book reader, but nothing’s really getting me yet. This thing is interesting, but why the greyscale LCD screen? And why is it EVDO, not Wifi? (I know some folks say the opposite, but I can use wifi in a lot of places without having to pay for a service provider!)

    All I want is something like my Palm TX (wifi, internet, e-mail and a calendar), but with a bigger screen, say 6-9 inches. (I read e-books on my Palm, mostly because I have no other options.) It doesn’t even have to be e-paper. $300 bucks.

  3. Surely anything with wifi and a web browser is an ebook reader that’s better than these? I think it was Tobias Buckell who I first read saying that the iPhone would make a great ebook reader.

    Personally I’m waiting for a paperback with clever paper, so I can keep one nice book and read lots. Ebook makers need more imagination. They should read some Science Fiction.

  4. I own a lot of ebooks. A really, really large amount.

    Is it really so much to ask for a decent ebook reader so that I can have my spent wealth outside of the confines of my computers.

    Here is my perfect ebook reader:

    It should be the size of a standard paperback. It can be somewhat thicker, both to facilitate tech and to have a nice feel in hand. Also it needs to be scratch proof and rugged, as it has the potential to be used a lot.

    It should have something similar to the Sony e-ink technology. That way it can be readable and easy on the eyes while at the same time also easy on the battery.

    It should not limit the format of books you can use. I want to be able to use pdf, txt, doc, and most importantly lit without needing to use a converter every time, or having to rebuy titles I already have.

    It should have a nice memory size. Think gb and not mb. Heck if I can buy 1 gb usb stick for less than 10 dollars why do I have only 256 mb on a 500 dollar gadget. And yes there is a really big need for the space. Ebooks and especially pdf’s are getting larger by the month it seems. Plus you really do not know what mood you might be in. It can be a Dave Barry or a Frederick Pohl you never really know. Choice is good. Also it might be good for it to have a usb port so that you could transfer books from sticks you take with you thus making the memory virtually unlimited.

    I can not emphasize enough the need for it to be easy on the eyes.

    Here is what it does not need to have:

    Ability or need to connect to the internet. I have a computer for that.

    Word processing. See previous.

    Phone, and other media capabilities. Ditto

    A color screen. It’s an ebook reader. It deals mostly with black and white letters. Black and white pictures I can live with.

    A proprietary format. Seriously. Enough.

    Now I ask you is this really that much to ask. Is anything unreasonable. So why do we not have such a gadget yet. I think it would be universally accepted. By the authors because it means more books in people’s hands and more money for them. For the publishers because it means that they get to sell their books without any additional costs such as printing and shipping. To the readers because they get the satisfaction of reading a good book, with all the good sides of ebooks and no drawbacks.

    It is clearly a win-win-win 🙂

  5. Despite what I wrote earlier, if they could make what General X said cheaply, I’m there.

  6. I’m totally on board with this. Could the iPod Touch be that device? Sure it has a color display, but it otherwise has a bunch of these cool features – it’s a good size, scratch-resistant, ability to display several formats (DRM and not), and WiFi.

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