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Bubble Bursts for e-Books 281

Posted by michael
from the poof dept.
Reuters has a piece noting that ebooks haven't lived up to the hype. Give it a few years, and publishers willing to issue non-DRM ebooks, and reading devices that go for days without being recharged and are as light as a paperback, and then we'll see...
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Bubble Bursts for e-Books

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  • by Chairboy (88841) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @03:45AM (#7188713) Homepage
    You've got to understand what makes people tick. Here's an example advertising campaign that would (based on the ad campaigns I see that are succesful) make eBook sales skyrocket.

    "eBooks are reading, TO THE EXXXXXTREME!"

    The advertisements would show well tanned 18 year olds on mountain bikes, skateboards, and rollerblades doing their sport with an eBook in one hand. The ad would tell the people that for ultimate smack talk, there's nothing like the classics, easilly accessible. "Dude, this is totally the winter of YOUR discontent! SCORE!"

    The commercial I see would end with someone biking their mountain bike down a rocky slope, yelling "Call ME ISHMEALLLLLLLL!!!!!" and cut to their parachute opening as the BASE jumper disapears into the jungle below.

    Fade to an eBook for a second (it now has a big X painted on the black case to make it extreme, maybe a Type-R sticker to get the car crowd too), then end.
  • price. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP&ColinGregoryPalmer,net> on Saturday October 11, 2003 @03:50AM (#7188721) Homepage
    Before ebooks become popular, I think they need to be dirt cheap, not just slightly less expensive than a normal book. I mean really, when you cut out manufacturing and physically distributing a product, your costs go way down. The cover price should reflect that.
    • Re:price. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RTPMatt (468649)
      ya, and how about something durable? i want something that i can throw in my backpack and not have to worry that if it gets dropped its gonna break.

      • I mean really, when you cut out manufacturing and physically distributing a product, your costs go way down. The cover price should reflect that.

      You also add:

      A secure accessible CC transaction system

      Paying somebody to design and upkeep said transaction system.

      Databases. User accounts and such.

      Database administrators.

      More pipelines to the net to run all of this new stuff over.

      Network technicians to manage the new pipelines to the net.

      Digital editoring(sic) people who take the book and put it into t

      • And that is why Baen [webscriptions.net] offers 4-6 books for $15? We are talking somewhare under four dollars per book. That is half the price of a paperback. BTW, jplucker is great for converting html to something useful for a handheld.
    • I think an earlier poster raised a valid point, how much can they lower the price. True, they don't have manufacturing costs of printing. But I'll be willing to bet that actual printing costs are a small part of the actual cost of a book. My experience is that labor is the biggest single cost in a product. So I imagine paying the author, advertising, editors, cover artists, etc. cost more than the actual printing of the book. Since those costs are the same regardless of whether a book is dead tree or d
      • by yerricde (125198)

        My experience is that labor is the biggest single cost in a product.

        Labor is the entire cost [colorado.edu] of a product; supply and demand determine the value of the labor used to develop, replicate, and deliver a given product. You're still correct in that Amdahl's Law [ic.ac.uk] limits the effect that labor reductions in replication and delivery can have on the product's final price.

    • People seem to think that reproduction, shipping & handling is such a big piece of the retail price. It isn't. The primary costs are a) compensation to those creating the work and b) promoting the work (and in some cases c) profit). And yes, retail stores are part of the promotion bit too, shelf space, posters etc. matters. So if you stop real-world stores, you have to make up for that as well.

      Ask a professional reprinter how much they charge to reproduce a book in a "normal" printing run. Or a profess
    • A quick google search turned up a study [columbia.edu] on the costs of printing scholarly books. The numbers are a few years old, but things probably haven't changed much. About halfway through the article they give production costs for various size runs of handcover and paperback books. A production run is about 1-3 cents per page for paperbacks. They estimate the per book cost for a typical 2,000 book run with a 3-color cover to be $1.50 per paperback. A 3,000 book run to be $1.20. Both costs are well under half
    • Agreed. I didn't buy any Ebooks because I could tell they were scamming the masses. The fast method of production to consumption meant that it was so very cheap to produce an ebook, and the fact that they didn't drop the price from real books that much, really stuck in my craw. I felt that the publishers were just adept at hiding the real motivation behind ebooks; to change their industry and make it 10x more profitable at the expense of the public. The fact nobody bought into that philosophy by supporting
  • anybody who has read Cyberbooks by Ben Bova
    will be unsurprised by the failure.

    Equally, the solution described by Bova may be the only way to get ebooks made generally available.

    • anybody who has read Cyberbooks by Ben Bova
      Cyberbooks by Ben Bova [amazon.com]
  • e-Books (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krymsin01 (700838) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @03:54AM (#7188731) Homepage Journal
    They way I've always looked at e-books is that they are a good to have for reference (searching for names, quotes, etc), but lack the tactile interactivity of a printed work. I think that no matter how small or efficent your reader is, it still won't be the same thing as paper. Electronic paper? Sounds like a good idea, but how do you turn the page?

    Maybe what they should start doing if they want people to get into reading e-books is including a copy of the book (like a lot of technical books do currently) on mini-cd or something. The more and more people are exposed to it, the more likely they will start to like reading books electronicaly. Or, you just wasted a lot of money and no one will ever like reading ebooks.
  • by manon (112081)

    I can't help the fact that, for me, a book still feels better then an electronic piece to read from.
    Nothing can beat the feeling I get from sitting in a corner of my livingroom with a little light and holding and reading a good book.
    For one, the smell a book can have is something i'll never get out of a piece of electronics.

    I remember reading about a newwspaper, printed on what feels like real paper, but is in fact something electronic that can be reused a couple of times.

    How nice would it be to have an

    • I agree on your points; having a physical book is great. I'm at the point where I even print out often-used manuals and API references and have them cheaply bound at a print shop to have them in physical format.

      However, I really long for good electronic books as well. I, like most people travel - and that may be to a different continent over several weeks, or to and from work every day. I can comfortably bring along one, maybe two books, then it starts getting cumbersome. Having books (including fiction) i
    • Not me, I have gotten to the point where I will not read anything by an author I am unfamiliar with unless an ebook available.

      I can fit hundreds of books on the expansion module of my Visor Handspring. This means that I can carry around in my pocket a wide array of reading material. I can have all sorts of literature available to me 24 hours a day (I can read my Visor in the dark).

  • Reading Lying Down (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rick and Roll (672077)
    I like to read lying down, to relax. It is difficult to do the same while watching tv because I have to keep my head propped up to see things right-side-up. I like to lay my head down and lay my hand down with the book on the bed or couch. It is a pain in the ass to turn pages, I have to roll over in order to see them, or hold the book up with my hand. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. What would be nice is something with the form factor of a book that had an easy way of changing pages so yo
  • Everyone acts all surprised when they talk about eBook not being hugely popular. It is assumed that because it is a computerized version of a current media that it is superior. Arguably, most of current media has been improved using computers, but books aren't and probably won't ever be one of them.

    Here is why:

    1 - eBooks aren't cheap. The reader is expensive, and the electronic books aren't significantly cheaper than paper books.

    2 - It is actually more difficult for most people to read off of a comput
    • Everyone acts all surprised when they talk about eBook not being hugely popular.

      Hell, I'm surprised that normal books are popular. Most people I know drop dead when I tell them I read. Of my own volition. For fun. So I'm very happy that there are enough people out there to support bookstores. For me, the most frightening part of Fahrenheit 451 was when you find out that the books went away at first, not because the government wanted them to, but because the people simply lost interest due to TV.
  • by CGP314 (672613) <CGP&ColinGregoryPalmer,net> on Saturday October 11, 2003 @03:58AM (#7188741) Homepage
    I wonder are there any iTunes/P2P-like plans for distributing ebooks? Something that could give the 'little guy' who wants to publish a book a chance to get his work seen without having to go through a publisher? It seems like most ebooks have to be distributed under a specific hardware platform, and not under something more general like a PDF.
    • There are many, many books on the existing P2P networks. As .txt, .pdb (Palm DOC, an open format which can be read on many machines, holding compressed plain text), HTML, PDF, &c. Some are uncorrected and/or dodgy scans, but many are pretty good, and some are immaculate. You just have to be a bit patient finding them.

      And for legitimate, low-cost ebooks (half of which are unrestricted and available in many formats) and publishing opportunities, hie thee to Fictionwise [fictionwise.com].

  • For manuals, step by step stuff and general how-to's ebooks are fine. Think "stuff you need for work"

    For leisure reading - no way. A book is a great piece of technology as it is. Cheap,portable, nice to handle and easy to use and shareable/resuable. The advantage of an ebook is the indexing & update-ability, but they lose out in the other areas.
  • "The limitless euphoria of the beginning belongs to the past," said Arnoud de Kemp, a leading electronic publisher with the science and business media firm Springer.

    Springer Media Firm added that de Kemp was 'not the least bit on drugs' when he made that comment.
  • No wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @04:08AM (#7188770)
    There are literally dozens of proprietary ebook formats, all requiring their own proprietary ebook reader. The likes of Microsoft also ensure that their proprietary ebooks can only be read on Microsoft platforms (e.g. not Palm). Publishers split into factions supporting one format or their other, or even their own.


    Is it any wonder the market is dead? Who wants a book that only works on their desktop but not their palm pilot? Or on their pocketpc or not their Mac? Or works everywhere but has a dreadful selection of titles? Or only runs through a reader that is a piece of junk (e.g. MS Reader)?


    But does that mean no one is interested? Of course not. Wander into a IRC book warez channel or a ebooks newsgroup and you'll find tens of thousands of books, lovingly hand scanned in for trading and available in formats such as .txt, .doc or .html. Now obviously many of these traders are lamers who'd never buy anything in their lives, but others I suspect would willingly part with a couple of dollars for properly produced ebook that could be read anywhere. It's the same with music - produce a books in a cheap and open format, throw in some value added site content (e.g. ratings, reviews, promos etc.) and people won't be slinking off to IRC to trade them.


    I do not believe that it is beyond the realms of probability that an XML format with some form of DRM could be produced. Until these vendors pull their fingers out of their arses and produce such an open format, they can look forward to their beloved market shrivelling on the vine.

    • Wish I had some mod points to give out this week. Your post needs to be at the top.
    • Where's Apple with an eBook solution. Once they do something, their Mac faithful will at least try it out, exposing a lot of potential customers to something new. Apple would probably figure out a good way to do eBooks, make some money at and keep it from being a pain in the ass, they way they did for music files.

      They already have an iBook so I can't imagine what they'd call such a service.
  • The fact that it would be yet another backlit appliance that I stare at all day is my reason for having no desire to own one. I read even more than I stare at computer screens, and one huge bonus is that its not shining ta me saying, "I'm gonna give you a headache! bwahaha!"

    Advantages of electronic text aside, I can't see why anyone would want one. Did I also mention I just love the feel of an actual book in my hands. On this matter, I'll stay in the paper world thanks.
    • Advantages of electronic text aside, I can't see why anyone would want one.

      Um, yeah. And advantages of food, clothing or appendicitis operations aside, I can't see why anyone would want that either. Methinks you have been shopping at Tautologies-r-Us. :)

      I prefer books too. But I _greatly_ prefer electronic texts to no text at all - such as when I am travelling and the bulk of even one book is a hassle, and more than one is out of the question. Instead, wherever I bring my laptop, I bring a whole library
      • Um, yeah. And advantages of food, clothing or appendicitis operations aside, I can't see why anyone would want that either. Methinks you have been shopping at Tautologies-r-Us. :)

        Yeah, way to make almost no sense at all. I'll give it to you straight up, I suffer from migraines, searchable text, portability, not worth needing even more tylenol and other higher octane pain killers just for a little convienience. For as much as the formats may complement each other, I stare at too many screens per hour as is
  • I'm working on two 18" TFT's at the moment. Good ones and I can really feel that they put _much_ less strain on my eyes. But still, I would prefer something written on paper any day. Even if I read longer documents, I prefer to print them out...I dunno, maybe there is no difference in eye strain, but I definitely _believe_ there is and that may be the reason ...
  • Think about it. For the most part, I would guess that ebooks are mostly marketed toward technically inclined folks, like the /. crowd. How many of us are willing to put up with DRM. If we buy this product with DRM, we empower them to make more DRM crippled products!!!
  • Personally I'd love to see an antialiased-font cartridge for the Gameboy Advance SP which accepts SD cards. I know most of you think the GBA has too small a screen for book reading, but I think it'd be perfect, and the battery problem would already be solved.
  • by bbn (172659) <baldur.norddahl@gmail.com> on Saturday October 11, 2003 @05:18AM (#7188903)
    If you like to read scifi or fantasy, one publisher already did all this.

    Go here and check Baens webscription: http://webscription.net/ [webscription.net]

    Or check their free library where you can read ebooks for FREE: http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

    All their books are DRM free and available in several different formats, including HTML (which obviously can't be DRM'ed).

    I bought lots of ebooks there primary because it is so easy and I get the book instantly. I wont touch any ebook that has DRM as those always try to limit the number of devices I can read them on. Today I am reading those books on my iPAQ PDA, but in a year I have most likely retired that device for something better.

    Contrary to what others seem to be saying here, ebooks really works for me. I almost completely stopped reading ordinary books, always prefering to use the light ipaq over a heavy real book. The display is clear, bright and does not strain my eyes. The battery lasts about 10 hours when reading. The only times where the battery live is a problem is when I am home, and there I just hook it up to power when it runs out.

    It is not perfect, but it is more than good enough. At least for fiction reading anyway - I might not want to use it for a science text book, or any other book with tables, pictures and the like. Some of my ebooks contain maps, which are completely unreadable on the ipaq (but you can read them on the computer of course).
    • Agreed - I've found myself spending more on ebooks through baen than I used to for regular books (where I usually went for used books due to price issues and might only pick up 1-5 new books a year) No nasty DRM to make reading the books more difficult, already formatted nicely for my palm (works great with the mobipocket reader) and it doesn't hurt being able to pick things up in ebook format before they even hit the shelves in paper!

      Plus they did some smart moves to appeal financially - the ebooks are c
  • The last two books that I have read, one of which was recently mentioned here on /. called A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, were ebooks. Prior to that I had not read ebooks beyond what you can get off of gutenberg.net.

    For a reader I used my old visor deluxe and weasel reader. I found the expierence very good.

    Being able to store multiple books on a device that I would have been carrying with me anyway was definately convenient. The pda itself is also smaller than most books but the text was just as la
  • by rnd() (118781)
    Don't expect DRM to go away. It represents the future of selling content. The only thing that will make people want to get off their butts and create a more practical ebook reader device is the idea that if they do publishers will want to release content for it. Publishers will only do this if they can prevent theft through measures such as DRM.
  • by rnd() (118781) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @05:26AM (#7188921) Homepage
    I've often wondered why nobody has come up with an ebook reader that is based on the original Palm V (or Vx). Just make the screen 5x larger but keep the same thickness. The device could probably sell for less than $150 these days, and it could have basic PDA features. The idea here is to embrace the KISS strengths of a Palm, the thinness of the Palm V, and add a larger screen so that it's possible to read an e-book on the thing w/o constantly scrolling.

  • It is too early; the technology has in no way come about nor settled. There was no bubble to even burst. It'll be a few more years before the right technologies get into place (e.g. displayable ink).

    Same problem occurred with virtual reality. It's possible to create VR systems, but everything about them is too immature (price, performance, bandwidth for multi-site, economics, etc). Again, there was no bubble - just an early stage technology.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @05:33AM (#7188930) Homepage
    It's weird, My security prof was just talking about this yesterday. He basically said what I have believed for a long time. Books generally don't fall victim to copyright infringement, because it takes too long, and costs too much to make photocopies, or print them out, and because, nobody wants to curl up in bed with their laptop, and i don't believe they ever will.

    Maybe i'm just and old timer, but I think there's something bred into us that likes the feel of paper.

  • <opinion>
    Personally I think ebooks are handy, but not for everyone. For example, for the geek crowd, I know I've been a lot happier carrying around 1 or 2 CD's as opposed to 1 Routing TCP/IP vols 1 & 2, Metadata Management, Advance Programming in Perl, and my Stuff magazines. It keeps my spine happier, and shoulders from being iced on the weekends.

    For the college kids, when I was in school, I would have preferred having ebooks as opposed to lugging around a bagful of books. Ever run into the same

    • If carrying a few books hurts your back/shoulders, it sounds like your problem is a lack of exercise, not the weight of books.
      • If carrying a few books hurts your back/shoulders, it sounds like your problem is a lack of exercise, not the weight of books

        I'm unpacking from a road trip, and over half the weight of my suitcase - including the case itself and a pair of laptops - is from the books. Every once in a while I end up without net access, which means packing in a foot and a half of reference books. PDF versions would be a godsend for when I'm mobile.

  • Piracy! (Score:3, Informative)

    by xixax (44677) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @05:51AM (#7188958)
    Mike Hunt, a spokesperson for the Book Industry Assocoiation of America (BIAA) blames the decline in sales of e-books on rampant piracy. In a media conference, he said that "on average, twelve people read every book sold, that's eleven people *stealing* the content and depriving artists like Geoffrey Chaucer of their intellectual property". He also lambasted local governments and schools for supporting organised book sharing systems called "libraries", "who the hell is going to *buy* books when they are being handed out for free?". In closing, he outlined a plan where the BIAA would impose a sliding scale of royalties on anyone teaching how to read their products, "we acknowledge that some people read as a hobby, so 'Run Spot Run' will be quite inexpensive, but all technical literature will be written in Swahili so that a higher rate can be charged for specialist knowledge, kind of like how the bible used only be available in Latin".

    Xix.
  • by nagora (177841)
    Give it a few years, and publishers willing to issue non-DRM ebooks, and reading devices that go for days without being recharged and are as light as a paperback, and then we'll see...

    We'll see nothing. Who's going to write books that are instant bit-torrents? When everyone's read your book but you have sales of 3 copies where does the money come from, you stupid, stupid man?

    TWW

  • by Wolfstar (131012) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @06:06AM (#7188978)
    ... but due to sales, since it was an early starter, it's since been discontinued.

    I'm talking about the REB1100. The successor to the original Rocket, precursor to Gemstar's now also discontinued travesty of a version, the GEB1150.

    Why's the 1100 great? Lessee.

    1. I routinely get 30+ hours of battery life out of it. It goes for days.

    2. I can almost drive by the light of the backlight. I sure as hell could read a paper book with it as a light source, and it could be indirect when the brightness was cranked. (caveat, cranking the brightness like that will cut battery life to 10-15 hours tops.)

    3. Weighs noticeably less than a hardcover, about the same as a thick paperback - think The Stand (unabridged). Unit is molded to fit fairly naturally in your hand, with the page advance button under your thumb, just as a curled-over paperback would.

    4. Screen size is that of a normal paperback, give or take.

    5. Could add your own content via USB port, and there's a project on Sourceforge for converting docs to Rocket's .rb format. (Gemstar killed this concept with the GEB1150)

    Things it lacks: Could always do with more battery life (what can't?), was a black & white monochrome screen (GEB1150 did have greyscale 256, but...), and uses the now virtually defunct SmartMedia card for memory expansion - would've preferred Compact Flash. Could also use a bit more internal memory, as it only had 8 Megs - still enough for around 8,000 pages.

    It's fairly durable, but the screens can crack on you if you drop it at the right angle. Mine's cracked in the corner (after 4 or 5 drops) but the crack isn't getting any worse, and there's a plastic sheet of some sort over it so nothing's getting in there either. What's more, the crack is around the non-active border, so it doesn't even affect reading/viewing.

    You can find them on eBay, and I have stumbled across them as display models in a few stores, notably OfficeMax. I also found one in a Best Buy.

    If anyone wants to build the ultimate eBook reader, that's a good place to start.

    As for content, someone's already mentioned Baen. To note, last I checked they released in RTF, Mobipocket, Rocket, Microsoft, and plain-duck HTML. (The interface for HTML is nice as well; it will keep track of the paragraph you last had the mouse cursor hovering over in whichever chapter, I think by cookie, and when you close, then reload the main book page, it brings you directly to that point. It also has a chapter list in a frame, and allows you to set the font.)
    • This is actually one of the biggest problems with e-books (apart from neither vendors nor customers being particularly interested in them):

      You can read real books just fine even hundreds of years after they were printed. E-book-readers will, like all hardware and software products, evolve, sometimes breaking compatibility. If I would decide to buy one today, it is unlikely that I can read the books I have for it in 50 years unless I keep the reader around and working. And keeping a ton of different reader

  • I would buy ebooks if:

    1. The ebook readers looked and felt like a book. Meaning they would have the same shape, size, and weight of a book (perhaps with different sizes ranging from small paperback size to 8x11 hardcover size, depending on the preference of the customer), with a cover that looks like a book. When I open the cover, I should see two screens, similar to how I would see two pages when I open a book. That way I'll be able to relax and read it on the sofa just like reading a regular book.

    2.
    • Some of your conditions are almost reasonable, but others are less so.

      I would buy ebooks if:

      1. The ebook readers looked and felt like a book. Meaning they would have the same shape, size, and weight of a book (perhaps with different sizes ranging from small paperback size to 8x11 hardcover size, depending on the preference of the customer), with a cover that looks like a book. When I open the cover, I should see two screens, similar to how I would see two pages when I open a book. That way I'll be ab
  • by reboot246 (623534)
    I love books. I've got hundreds of them. When they sell an ebook that I can hand down to my great-great-great grandchildren without worrying about DRM, formats, and ease of use, I may buy one.

    I just bought a bunch of books to give as Christmas presents. Can I do that with ebooks? Will my 68 year old mother read one? Can I give a 3 year old grandson an ebook that he can color in, put stickers on, and possibly chew on?

    I have books that are over 150 years old. Some of them have notes that were written th
  • by jonbrewer (11894) * on Saturday October 11, 2003 @06:29AM (#7189011) Homepage
    Yeah, eBooks suck. I read exactly one eBook I bought from Amazon when I had an iPaq handheld. It wasn't worth the trouble.

    eJournals, OTOH, are likely the most important thing to happen to research since email. The simple fact that one can read an academic journal article in one window, then pull up the original text of a citation in another, changes everything.

    As an undergrad 93-97, I spent some serious hours in the library waiting in line, photocopying, and fucking around with microfiche machines. I hated it and did as little as possible.

    As a grad student today, I spend some serious hours with my wifi laptop, using Proquest from UMI, formerly known as University Microfilm, to get the content fast.

    And Proquest sucks, in comparison to other services - it's just low-quality images of journal articles. When I use the ACM Portal, or Emerald, JStore, or any number of other services I get press-ready PDF files. I get citations I can copy and paste straight into my bibliography. It completely changes the experience.

    And the great thing is, there's no lack of a market. eJournals are not going anywhere. It's cheaper for a University to pay for subscriptions to eJournal servicesthan it is to keep paper copies or maintain microfilm hardware.

    eJournals are definitely where it's at, and I see most nonfiction and reference going that way in the near future. Pleasure reading - eBooks? Maybe next year, maybe never.
  • Isaac Asimov in a speech to the 1989 American Booksellers Association had a word of comfort for the traditionalists among us. He made a passionate defense of the survival of the book when he asked his audience to imagine a device that "can go anywhere, is totally portable. . . . Something that can be started and stopped at will [and] requires no electric energy to operate." This dream device is, of course, the book. "It will never be surpassed because it represents the minimum technology with the maximum in
    • He makes several good points, but not all of them are on target. Particularly portability; ebooks are a lot more portable than paper books. What's the densitity of digital information storage these days? Something like a gigabyte per square centimeter. That's a whole damn library. And that matters because what we're talking about there is the effective elimination of warehouses.

      But it's true even at the individual level. I routinely carry ten ebooks around in my palmtop. The palmtop I carry anyway

  • Lying Liars (Score:5, Informative)

    by taxman_10m (41083) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @06:56AM (#7189055)
    Check out the prices on Al Franken's latest book at Amazon.com.

    Lying Liars (hardcover): $14.97

    Lying Liars (adobe ebook): $24.95

    Gee, wonder why the ebooks aren't selling?

  • Like you all, I've put in my dues in the programming and unix thing. when i was out of highschool in america i was working for the department of energy programming industrial process controls. unlike most of you, i gave it all up and whent back to my frist love, which is literature and the art of language. Now i'm back in Ireland reading English.
    I must say that I do love books. Having something printed and tangeble just sort of lends a validity to the words. It gives a sence of a piece of mind taht it
    • Everyone has the right to his own opinion, of course, but it's a shame that you feel that way.

      In my experience, I've found that books of whatever form are like...hmm...cartoons or movies. When they play them real slow, you can't help but notice that they're just sheets of celluloid with still images printed on them. But...if you play it fast enough, thanks to persistence of vision, that image starts moving, and you don't see the celluloid anymore, just the motion of the picture.

      Books are like that with
  • First Reading an ebook is not as relaxing because you have to worry about batteries or a nearby plug.

    Impressive personal library having a lot of real books just looks cool especially the old ones with the gold lettering

    Most leisure books are read from start to finish. So people don't need all the extra features. For the material that do need the features such as manuals and the like are almost all now in other non or less DRM formats.

    Easier on the eyes. Digital screens are harder on the eyes because we
  • As far as I'm concerned, ebooks have no future unless they look and feel like a real book and cost less.

    Give me an ebook with a flexible reading surface that's at least 5x8 inches, that allows me to put my own notes in the margins, features crisp black-on-white text, and the ability to function without a power source and independently of some sort of reader hardware, and I might change my mind.

    Right now, though, reading an ebook is just too unpleasant to be worth it.
  • It's not really right to give ebooks such a hard time for not living up to the hype. There was a lot of hype.

    People are making too much of B&N's dropping of ebooks. Of course they didn't sell very many of them - they started out offering nothing but Microsoft stuff. Who wants to read books on a PC? Short battery life on laptops (if you have one) and a lot of bulk makes that a terrible experience. And Microsoft's palmtops don't have enough market to give much of a market to sell to. That was a lo

  • I think everyone already knows that they are going to have to do away with DRM before ebooks will be successful, but that's not all.

    What eBooks need, is a decent eBook reader. The few I've seen try to look like a book, by having black text on a white background, which is the ultimate mistake. There's an infinite difference between the passively lit white color of a sheet of paper, and the blinding, bright, white glow of a white screen.

    Just think, all they need to do to make it better, is to use a low-po
  • So, I think I'm one of the few people who actually read a good number of books in digital format and quite enjoyed the process. They may have come from Bearshare or Kazaa, I admit, but the ability to carry five or six books around with me all the time on my old Visor Edge (thinest PDA I've ever seen) was wonderful. Sure, you had to scroll a lot, but you get used to that very quickly. And sometimes the text of the book is a little bit garbled due to some monkey OCRing it poorly, or formatting it different
  • The "bubble" burst on eBooks. Right. How about we take "What did DRM kill before it got started?" for $500?

    The cost of entry for eBooks is simply too high to make even the geekiest of geek want to use them. You cannot simply buy the right eBook reader. Out of a number of available titles you would want to buy at least one will be in a format incompatible with your software or hardware reader. That one book will defy the logic of all your previous purchase decisions.

    This is the eBook concept's fatal flaw.
  • I just use my palm m105 with the weasel ereading program, and can convert nearly any file format into it's drm-less ztxt.
  • In order for a bubble to burst, there would have had to have been some inflation to begin with.

    Aside from a few companies hyping up and releasing products that nobody bought several years ago, there was no 'bubble' to pop concerning E-books.

    It would have been a 'bubble' had authors come in droves to dump their works into digital form expecting people to buy them. This never happened, as most authors had the common sense to see there would be free copies of their books sailing all over P2P networks. Not th
  • I've always thought that the discussion of the success or failure of ebooks turns on a false premise -- namely that an ebook is some fairly exact electronic simulacrum of a printed book. In fact, any time you move to a new medium, the possibilities expand and morph. A movie is not a camera pointed at a stage play. Once you have that perspective, you might categorize EverQuest as an electronic fantasy novel? It's far more an "ebook" to my mind than a copy of Lord of the Rings reproduced in PDF on screen.
  • Too hard to read (Score:4, Interesting)

    by b-baggins (610215) on Saturday October 11, 2003 @09:30AM (#7189485) Journal
    Until the print display on ebook readers is at least 600 DPI, forget it. The print you read on a cheap paperback is 1200 DPI. The text displayed on your ebook reader is about 96 dpi, or the quality of a poor dotmatrix printout.

    Studies have shown that difference in resolution slows reading by about 30% and causes eyestrain and headache.

    The interesting thing is, most people will not identify these problems, rather just express a dissastisfaction with the overall experience.

    a 600 DPI reflective display for an ebook reader is essential for the technology to take off.

    Digital ink may be the answer. It will be interesting to find out.

  • Only room for the words "Mostly Harmless"? I'll pass on that, thank you very much. Now where's my towel...

    -Chris
  • They're just not selling well and that's a different matter. Everything ebooks were promised to be they have been. I have a collection of about 60 ebooks on my Palm now. Titles vary from cheesy early Heinlein to Shakespeare. From the 100,000 entry Meriam Webster dictionary to a history of Europe. I've enjoyed the likes of Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut as well as Don DeLillo and Ben Franklin.

    I can read any time. Waiting in line in Safeway, in boring meetings, while wolfing down a quick salad in Togo's, w

  • has done fairly well, and there are a lot of books available.

    Until the DRM is as transparent and prices are as good as the Apple music store, I don't think they they will get much market share.

    Right now I often do audiobook rentals. I can even load the CD versions into my iPod and take it with me (and yes, I do delete them after listening).

    I don't need another thing to carry around beyond my Zaurus and/or iPod, but most e-books aren't available for my Zaurus (the C760 with the good screen) - and are on
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Saturday October 11, 2003 @11:02AM (#7189858) Homepage Journal
    To use an analogy, this article is like saying because the bottom fell out of the dot-com market, the idea of doing business on the Internet is doomed.

    Of course ebooks aren't selling in the same scale as paperbacks! We're still in the age of the early adopter. The tech isn't yet mature enough to attract the average reader. That doesn't mean it won't ever be. The article itself admits that the number of buyers of ebooks is increasing, just not as fast as they'd hoped.

    Just let the price of reading solutions fall by a factor of ten or so while the resolution and clarity of available screens approach that of paper and the same sources that are bemoaning how few people buy ebooks will be stunned at how many people are.
  • by perler (80090)
    even ebook advocates tend to forget (or didn't even realized?!) the hidden pros of ebooks:

    - taking books on a trip

    i remeber spending some time in irland some five years ago. i had 20 kg of books with me, after arrival i had to spend a day in bed - my back ached like hell - and i read maybe just 5 kg of them! this year i spend a whole month in ireland with some 20 books on my clie - ok, i just read 3 of them, but without any of the problems five years ago..

    - reading in the darkness:

    it's just a total diff
  • Found on the Yahoogroups ebook mailing list...there are other articles that suggest ebooks might not be quite as dead as is thought [reviewsnews.com].

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