E-Z Does It
The idea? To revolutionize the way people read. And while the e-book seems more like something out of Buck Rogers than the local book store, there are three prominent stakeholders closely watching the e-publishing phenomenon: publishers, authors and readers. Assuming e-books succeed their touted expectation, publishers will prepare to redistribute content; authors will have a greater pool of publishing potential; and readers will have to choose between paper and silicon.
Meanwhile, the manufacturers of these hand-held elixirs report the devices store a high-volume of content on small-screens—a characteristic they hope will seduce users into downloading. Similarly, publishers have already begun investing money in converting popular titles to electronic format, not to mention ironing-out complicated copyright laws with authors. But no matter how many claims are made about book publishing's future, the readers will inevitably decide the fate of e-books, and whether reading electronically will triumph over tradition.
WritersWrite.com quoted an exasperated Lou Aronica, former publisher at Avon Books, about whether e-books will pass the test. "I've stopped predicting this kind of thing," said Aronica. "There are so many variables—not the least of which is whether anyone will be able to mass market an electronic reading device."
Nuts and bolts
Though e-books are in the news, chances are the majority of Americans have yet to see one, let alone use one. For reference, the e-book is a combination of hardware, software and electronic content that can be downloaded from the Internet. The hardware consists of a hand-held device that processes text into readable form as a computerized equivalent to the paperback. The average size for most hand-held devices is about 8x10." Some offer colorized screens like a computer terminal, and others offer plainer text, like that of the printed page.
During the past few years, these digital books have turned heir apparent to the publishing industry. Stephen King released a book electronically, despite hacked codes. The Frankfurt Book Fair also honored e-books with several notable prizes. Even CEO of barnesandnoble.com, Steve Riggio, has been actively endorsing the e-book as the next wave in book publishing revenue streams.