Monday, September 19, 2005

Man's best friend (outside of a dog) (IBM DeveloperWorks)

Joshua Fruhlinger (pdwe@jfruh.com), Editor and Writer, Freelance

13 Sep 2005

When is the electronic book going to be as useable as the old-fashioned kind? How do technologies need to change to bring e-books out of the geeky, early adopter ghetto and into digital bookstalls everywhere? Power Architecture™ readers provide the answers in this month's Power Architecture challenge.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -- Groucho Marx

Don't let anyone tell you different: the future is not here.

Our cars? Not flying. Our food? Not in pill form. Our books? Not electronic.

"Now hold on a minute, buster," I'm sure you're saying. "Why, I read sci-fi e-books from the Baen Free Library all the time! Every time I have a few spare moments, I just pop out my PDA and advance through a few dozen screens of tasty e-book action! The future is here -- for me!"

I hate to break it to you, though, but it looks like e-books in their current form aren't going to break out of their early adopter ghetto any time soon. Certainly books stored in electronic form have flourished in a number of niche markets -- reference books, in particular, are becoming more and more prevalent as electronic form rather than paper (see Resources for more on this and other wacky links). But when it comes to the books that make up the bulk of our reading lives, the vast majority of us are still reading words printed with ink on paper bound with glue and string. (more...)