Thursday, January 04, 2007

The ebook debate

The occasions when I can put on the hat I wear during my day job can be worn when posting on the blog but all this talk of digital book does have some crossover.

A great deal of fuss was made yesterday about a Cambridge-based company called Plastic Logic which is producing plastic microchips that can carry around large amounts of information and display them in an electronic A4 format (see picture) that is a potential way of storing e-books. Add to that development the planned arrival of the Sony eBook Reader into the UK in June and you just know that this year is going to be one dominated by a technology debate.

Getting in early my view is that these products will appeal to certain markets and can learn a lot from the Tablet PCs which have carved out a niche in hospitals and education but failed to go mainstream. The idea of an A4 ebook machine will appeal to academics and those working in government wanting to store lots of documents in one device but beyond that who wants to lug around yet another device when a handy paperback will suffice? In regards to the Sony product it sounds like a great idea but the iPod has been a success not just because of the technology but also because it can be hidden in a pocket. Try that with the eBook Reader and it defeats the purpose of the product but of course sit there in public and use it and it hands the muggers a perfect source of revenue to fund their crack habits.

There is nothing wrong with being niche but you can bet your house on the advertising folks taking a broad sweep approach claming the traditional printed book is dead.


Stephen said...

I'm only any good with technology that sits firmly on the desk in front of me. I'm hopeless with anything portable, so if I'm going to be the last person on Earth with a paperback book then so be it.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I have to say that ebooks have been enormously helpful to me with my class. While I prefer regular books when I read for fun, I buy all of my teaching materials online, at

Buying these books in ebook format has been very beneficial: They are cheaper, are instantly delivered to me, and I can carry an entire bookcase worth of materials in my laptop (or the new portable reader when I eventually purchase one). So while they may not replace standard ones, ebooks definitely have their place for people like me.


simon quicke said...

I agree that ebooks are cheaper, can be downloaded almost instantly and can help a larger number of children get access to key texts but the next question is how they will read those ebooks - on what platform - and for me that debate is still wide open.