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Old 10-17-2007, 09:54 AM   #1
jasonkchapman
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Electronic Paper: Where do we go from here?

The Future of Things has a good summary of the past, present, and future of electronic paper displays.

Much of it comes under the heading of "been there, talked about that" for MobileReaders, but it's great to have it all in one place. It also includes an interview with Nick Sheridan, inventor of the Gyricon e-paper, about the early developments at Xerox PARC.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:21 PM   #2
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Q: What do you think will be the "killer application" of e-paper?

A: Color.
I agree wholeheartedly. Color e-paper will allow the magazine industry to get into e-paper content, and that should be the beginning of widespread e-paper use. (With apologies to books, including my own!)
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
I agree wholeheartedly. Color e-paper will allow the magazine industry to get into e-paper content, and that should be the beginning of widespread e-paper use. (With apologies to books, including my own!)
Well your covers look pretty damn good in color!
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:54 PM   #4
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Old 10-17-2007, 03:00 PM   #5
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As much as I'd like the answer to be "interactivity" or "community" (e.g. dotReader discussion boards), I have to agree with "color."
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:18 PM   #6
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I'll be the contrarian, then, and suggest that form factor is one current limiting factor, distribution of content is another, and closed platforms is a third.

As an example of form factor issues, why hasn't anyone stuck a simple solar cell on their ebook reader yet? With such a low-power device, it seems like a solar cell could take you from long life to "never needs recharging." And that would be a huge step forward in convenience.

Color will be a big deal when it arrives, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary for a successful product. Once it does arrive, though, I'm guessing all readers will be color within a product cycle.
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:51 PM   #7
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The solar cell idea is a good one... especially if you could either put one on the outside and inside cover, or somehow incorporate a clear solar cell into the screen.

Regarding color, no, it's not needed for reading per se. However, as we've noted elsewhere in these forums, color screens would make it feasible to import textbooks and magazines into the readers, making them more useful and popular to the general public, and thereby (hopefully) kicking off their widespread usage. Many of us believe that color may be the one thing holding readers back.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:40 PM   #8
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Color is an "old media" vs "new media" issue. Color on the cover sells p-books, but is generally too expensive inside a p-book. Color cover images will help manage large e-book collections, but for e-books it is color inside the book that makes a difference. Since this is expensive for p-books it is currently only content designed to be on-line (and magazines) that use color extensively.

Good examples of this are the sci-fi periodicals. The ones I am most familiar with are Grantville Gazette, where volumes 11-14 have extensive illustrations (and illustrations were removed from volume 1 because they were too hard to handle!) and Jim Baen's Universe. These are both new publications, but I assume older si-fi periodicals are on the same track. They can be read on-line or off-line as an e-book.

I am still not sure whether I prefer reading these on the iLiad or the Nokia 770. On the iLiad I can see large images but in greyscale. On the 770 I can only see 800x480 pixels, but in stunningly good color. The strange part is that the illustrations are not central to the content (typically more relevant in GG than in JBU), but they do enhance the reading experience. I guess that I really want is double the 770's color screen (800x960) with at least a 12 hour battery life. The OLPC screen might already deliver close to this if someone repackaged it as an e-book device.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:59 PM   #9
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I can't really disagree with JAcheson's points about what's holding ereaders back. I responded as I did because I think all those issues are readily solvable, as soon as enough market pressure develops for the readers themselves. And I think color is the most likely feature to provide that market pressure-- even though it doesn't really matter to me personally.
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:22 PM   #10
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I think about color in reference to the magazine subscriptions I presently have... Although I only have 3 subscriptions currently, that's 30 magazines a year, a lot of material, and I generally like to keep my magazines.

Presently I have a collection of Popular Science that dates back to about 1973, every issue... that's a few boxes of magazines right there! I also have back issues of Scientific American, a much thicker publication, which I've had to start throwing away after I accumulate more than 2 years. I have boxes and shelves of other old and new magazines too, most of which I'd love to keep, but often find myself throwing away once they become too numerous.

I can't tell you how much I'd love to have all of them stored electronically in one reading device... better yet, on a storage disk(s) that I could move from device to device. The potential for such a mobile personal library is incredible... and even more for people who do not have the room to store even a small number of books or magazines (or textbooks). Such a tool could revolutionalize individual access to knowledge and information beyond what we can even fathom today.

Maybe people don't do as much literature reading as they used to... but the popular magazine industry is very healthy. Give those consumers an easier way to access their favorite magazines in full color--and those consumers include adults down to "teeny-boppers"--and you've got a market to be reckoned with. E-reading devices may never become the "iPod of books," but they could easily become the "iPod of magazines."

But I think I've mentioned this before...
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