Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A virtual revolution?

Last Saturday's Daily Telegraph had an article on ebook technology, by Michael Fitzpatrick, which contained rather more new facts than is often the case with articles intended for the layman.

The article covers all the usual ground, such as the new Sony ebook reader. But Fitzpatrick also provides information about a similar initiative, the iLiad, which is made by a company called iRex. I hadn't heard of that before.

Fitzpatrick has been talking to some top names in major publishing, with slightly surprising results. Graham Bell, for example, head of publishing systems at HarperCollins, thinks that although the ebook revolution has failed so far, things may be about to change. So-called e-ink, which is at the heart of the Sony device, is what has changed his mind.

Fitzpatrick has also unearthed a Japanese success story that I hadn't come across before. Some three years ago, an author called Yoshi launched a 'mobile novel' by handing out leaflets to thousands of schoolgirls in downtown Tokyo. The novel was written in simple Japanese and was downloaded in 1,600-word instalments. Yoshi then took into account feedback from his readers. So far, his web site has had 20 million hits and the novel is now being made into a film.

Meanwhile, on a sort of related topic, Sara Nelson's editorial in the current Publishers Weekly describes how the power of half a dozen blogs turned a short, rapidly written book into a hot seller. Although, technically, it isn't even published yet.

3 comments:

Walker said...

I posted a review of the Sony PRS-500 a few weeks ago. Very concerned that no statistics are available concerning the lifespan of the E-ink screen -- a component so expensive that, like the iPod's HDD, it would be pointless repairing upon failure. I'm always wary of proprietary software and inflexible DRM initiatives with Sony too. Having said all that, when I couldn't get some text books for a writing workshop a few weeks ago, the possibility of 'renting' Ebook copies from Sony's "Connect Bookstore" suddenly increased this device's appeal. (Not that the books are available yet of course!)

Didn't know about The iLiad. Must investigate that one further. :-)

Tony Christini said...

"Meanwhile, on a sort of related topic, Sara Nelson's editorial in the current Publishers Weekly describes how the power of half a dozen blogs turned a short, rapidly written book into a hot seller. Although, technically, it isn't even published yet."

Does it have to be a select half dozen blogs? If not, send a novel message in the US or the UK:
http://antiiraqwarnovel.wordpress.com/

Gerald Jackson said...

Interesting article, though the argument that - since I read it online - this proves the point that the e-book will triumph is nonsense; I read the article because you pointed to it and because I didn't have to pay for it. There's lots of cheapskates like me out there unwilling or unable to afford £250 on a reader before even getting my first e-book. Nor are p-books utterly without merit. For instance, as far as I know, few desert islands come equipped with power points, battery chargers or the like. And try getting sand in anything electronic ...