In the Technology section of CNN.com there was a recent article on ebook readers, their limitations and their future. The article starts off with nothing all that new -- i.e., that ebooks, and the Kindle, are "not quite there yet," but getting close. Three key limitations are noted --
(1) Lack of extensive wireless, or wireless options outside of the States.
(2) Current readers are focused on text and mostly limited to "text-only, grayscale versiouns of otherwise colorful and lively" content.
(3) Lack of ebook inventory diversity.
Each of these limitations are ultimately surmountable the piece argues. In that process, the article does provide some interesting content and quotes. Here are some of the points of interest:
- For E Ink, the next frontier is color. Qualcomm's mirasol technology, still in development, uses biomimetics to engineer low-power, flat-panel, color-rich displays viewable in any
lighting condition, based on butterfly wings.
- There is some interesting coverage of the recent history of e-book readers, from Sony's Librie, to the Iliad by iRex, and of course, the Amazon Kindle.
- Technology takes time to be adopted. It begins with everyone saying, "why would I ever use that," and eventually becomes a mainstream concept. Note the last quote below (noted as my favorite) for a samplinng.
And here are some of the more "quotable quotes":
- In response to the lingering fetish for the printed page, Bezos sighed: "I'm sure people loved their horses too, but you're not going to keep riding a horse to work."
- E-book sales are still a small, but fast-growing segment of our overall revenue," says Simon & Schuster's Adam Rothberg. "In 2007 we experienced a 40 percent growth over 2006. If current trends for 2008 hold, we expect that we will double or better that growth."
- Long before the success of "Brokeback Mountain," Fiction Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx infamously told the New York Times in 1994: "Nobody is going to sit down and read a novel on a twitchy little screen. Ever." Today, no less than seven of her authored books are available in Kindle edition from Amazon.
- The main thing," Silicon Valley-based user-interface engineer Darryl Chin, 31, continues, "and seemingly always will be with e-books, is content. Give me all the books I want. Like CDs to MP3s, give me everything I can get physically, digitally."
Print books, on the other hand, have their place. Nothing can replace a beautiful art book, or a book of photography. E-books are simply a different format for something we've had for hundreds of years. When penny dreadfuls were introduced in the 1800s they were scoffed at, as were paperback novels in the 1930s. Also in the 1930s, as farmers were being signed up for rural electrification, one of the most common responses was: "Why do we need electricity? We have lanterns!"