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Old 07-04-2013, 02:51 AM   #1
Prestidigitweeze
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What Electronic-Book Interfaces Looked Like 20 Years Ago

The piece and attendant video:

What Electronic-Book Interfaces Looked Like 20 Years Ago

Andrew Hearst's blog entry also links to this alternately amusing and obvious piece on why early e-books failed:

http://alfabravo.com/2011/08/early-e...y-they-failed/

A friend who used to work for Voyager Co. made his living for years afterward honing a database/presentation package -- again, using Macromedia Director. Most of his clients were diehards who for one reason or another hated Premiere. You might call them reactionaries in the sense that they spent decades clinging to what had rapidly become old tech.

I've often thought of how quickly CD-ROM books became unplayable and/or obscure as systems vied for dominance and programming language versions were superseded or fell into disuse. Presuming that those same issues still existed, I didn't pay attention to epub at first. In a word, oops.

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Old 07-04-2013, 03:13 AM   #2
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Fascinating. Let's have a Macbeth Karaoke Party. I'll bring the tomato ketchup.

Two or three years ago I think Faber & Faber did something comparable to those truly interactive early ebooks with an iPad app of The Waste Land. No idea if they ever did a follow-up to that experiment.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:43 AM   #3
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Twenty years ago was using an Amiga 3000. I had some very impressive interactive books on CD-ROM -- pretty much inaccessible these days.

I was also using a text editor to read some public domain books (Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes stories, etc.) that had been collected on CD-ROM. Not nearly as impressive, but they still "work" just fine! (Yes, I still have the CD-ROMs.)
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:07 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by doubleshuffle View Post
Two or three years ago I think Faber & Faber did something comparable to those truly interactive early ebooks with an iPad app of The Waste Land. No idea if they ever did a follow-up to that experiment.
Don't own an iPad and so haven't had a leer (or possibly an eye-roll) at this:

The Waste Land for iPad

A glance at the right column of that page shows F&F desperately trying to create an electronic theme park out of their literary back-catalog.

Have a look at the rather tasteless cover for the 50th Anniversary Edition of Plath's novel about slipping into mental illness and attempting suicide (after all, "one year in every ten [she] manage[d] it"). The cover makes it look as though Plath just needed a makeover.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:13 AM   #5
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Excellent! I remember it well! I was soooooo excited by the possibilities!!
It's like all things new, it must run it's course....and we're not quite done yet.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:14 AM   #6
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In early 1999, I purchased an iPaq PDA and bought and read several books on it. It had a very small screen and relatively short battery life. Plus the lit screen shined into your eyes. Nonetheless, I really liked the portability and the fact you could obtain a book electronically rather than have to find a book store or library.

Then in mid 2007, I stumbled on a Sony 500 in a CompUSA Store and was very pleased with the changes (eInk, long battery life, screen size etc) that industry had made. I agonized over whether to buy one. It was then that I happened onto MobileRead and immediately joined. I quickly learned the 505 was coming out in time for Christmas and ended up buying one in Jan 08. It seemed a great improvement over the 500 and I was very pleased with. In fact, had I not dropped it walking to the gym a few years ago, I'd probably still be using it.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:25 AM   #7
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In early 1999, I purchased an iPaq PDA and bought and read several books on it. It had a very small screen and relatively short battery life. Plus the lit screen shined into your eyes. Nonetheless, I really liked the portability and the fact you could obtain a book electronically rather than have to find a book store or library.

Then in mid 2007, I stumbled on a Sony 500 in a CompUSA Store and was very pleased with the changes (eInk, long battery life, screen size etc) that industry had made. I agonized over whether to buy one. It was then that I happened onto MobileRead and immediately joined. I quickly learned the 505 was coming out in time for Christmas and ended up buying one in Jan 08. It seemed a great improvement over the 500 and I was very pleased with. In fact, had I not dropped it walking to the gym a few years ago, I'd probably still be using it.
Yes, I was very sad to have to give up using mine last year. Battery is (almost) gone and some weird resetting problem....just wasn't worth the hassle ... working on using-up my K2 now...
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:37 AM   #8
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I liked my 505 so much, I even considered having it repaired but it occurred to me that something else would probably go wrong with it. I still have it but it just sits on the bookshelf along side my favorite books. Sigh
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:04 AM   #9
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Don't own an iPad and so haven't had a leer (or possibly an eye-roll) at this:

The Waste Land for iPad
Neither have I. I just remembered watching a video about it when it first came out. I'm more of a traditional reader and all those extra material is overkill for me. But if I were teaching literature I guess I'd come up with uses for such things. Or maybe not.
Quote:
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A glance at the right column of that page shows F&F desperately trying to create an electronic theme park out of their literary back-catalog.

Have a look at the rather tasteless cover for the 50th Anniversary Edition of Plath's novel about slipping into mental illness and attempting suicide (after all, "one year in every ten [she] manage[d] it"). The cover makes it look as though Plath just needed a makeover.
That cover is rather disgusting indeed. Trying to sell the book to the chick-lit readership, I guess. Some unsuspecting customers might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:14 AM   #10
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Yes, the cover looks horrible but Plath wrote poems at that time where she described herself as a mannequin. She did that to criticise consumerism, expecially towards women (as she experienced it, at least). So this might be a reference to these last poems she wrote. A bit like: I'm just a doll, shut up now, leave me alone, I do what you want.

I like the cover of the german version a lot, it illustrates the experience Plath describes in this novel really good, in my opinion.

Sorry for beeing off-topic
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:47 AM   #11
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The Waste Land for iPad

A glance at the right column of that page shows F&F desperately trying to create an electronic theme park out of their literary back-catalog.
I’m still convinced that it would be a far richer experience to read it in the first UK book edition by the Hogarth Press, typeset by Virginia Woolf herself. 2750 $ only, and it doesn’t even come with an SD-card slot.

Not sorry for being off-topic.
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:12 AM   #12
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and it doesn’t even come with an SD-card slot.
Just like the iPad.
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Old 07-04-2013, 10:37 PM   #13
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Just like the iPad.
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:01 PM   #14
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:14 PM   #15
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Andrew Hearst's blog entry also links to this alternately amusing and obvious piece on why early e-books failed:
Early ebooks both were and weren't a failure.

One thing to remember is that relatively fewer people had computers 20 years ago, and those who did probably didn't have a CD-ROM. That limited the reach of ebooks, particularly multimedia titles.

Another thing to consider is that the choice was far more limited. Most of the titles I saw were non-fiction, and primarily targeted at children or the education market. This limited the reach of ebooks since the market only suited readers with particular interests.

In those senses the ebook market back then was as successful as it could be, and not really a failure because publishers weren't really trying to address the needs of the market as a whole.

Of course they weren't really trying to target the market as a whole because it would only interest a small subset of readers. Ebooks of the day had many disadvantages (e.g. portability), were on par in many respects (e.g. physical distribution), and only excelled in a few areas (oddly enough, the areas that made them effective as reference tools rather than for reading for pleasure).

Production costs may have been another factor limiting the number of titles released, hence diminished the appeal to readers. A lot of those early ebooks used a "reader" developed by the publisher. In many cases the reader was for a specific title. In many cases they also tried enhancing the ebook with multimedia elements, which isn't cheap to do poorly (never mind do well). Modern ebooks are almost verbatim versions of print books, so a majority of print titles are made into electronic versions because it is cheap and fast to do.
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