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Old 03-10-2006, 05:36 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Slashdot on the e-book and its slow acceptance

Few of us dispute the potential benefits of e-books. But why hasn't acceptance been swifter? A Slashdot reader raises a number of interesting points which may (at least partly) serve as an explanation:
  1. Form factor: They just prefer the feel and 'interface' of a paper book.
    Forthcoming readers such as the iRex iLiad and the Sony Reader will resemble paper books more than anything we've seen before, thanks to E Ink technology.

  2. Lack of a compelling device (or perhaps lack of convergence): They don't own a reader (other than a PC or notebook) and can't take them with them.
    Mobile gear is becoming increasingly powerful and popular, replacing the need for a dedicated e-book reader device.

  3. Lack of content: Books they are interested in aren't available in electronic format
    This could certainly be true for specialized literature. However, the mainstream "Dan Brown" literature is commonly available through Amazon, eReader and other bookstores that provide e-books.

  4. Distribution model: They don't like the DRM scheme their favorite publisher offers, or are otherwise unhappy with current offerings.
    In my eyes still the major obstacle for allowing e-books to flourish. Proprietary DRM is inconvenient, restrictive and (often) invasive. It's hard to justify how an e-book with DRM should make a better reading experience than the good old paper book.
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Old 03-10-2006, 06:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
In my eyes still the major obstacle for allowing e-books to flourish. Proprietary DRM is inconvenient, restrictive and (often) invasive.
And overpriced. DRMed eBooks are meant to be disposable and ought to be priced accordingly. Charging paper prices for a DRMed eBook is not justifyable.
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Old 03-11-2006, 04:04 AM   #3
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quite a number of them dont seem to be aware of ePaper technology...
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:47 AM   #4
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ePaper devices have not really been hyped...which is a bit of a problem...

You need good devices (e.g. e-paper) to attract content publishers and you also need content to make people interested in buying devices.

ebooks never got started because the few devices that could actually handle content well enough did not get "fed" with content.

A company like Sony needs to go ahead and start the ebook hype, if their store can offer beststellers early or at the same time as the harcover comes out and make it cheaper than the actual book...then we're in for a treat.

imagine a world where you just have one device that contains your library...you can save space and money...no more hardcover editions for beststellers you simply have to have as soon as they're out...schoolbooks, newspapers, everything could be beamed to a (fixed or flexible) epaper device.
Many people are afraid of change, and that is a pretty large change...but think about what happened to tapes when the CD came out and what is now happening to VHS cassetes due to the fact that DVD is now becoming more comfortable as a viewing AND recording medium.

The trouble is that there has been no "breakthrough" so far, and if Sony and it's competitors don't start hyping their ebook readers and shops pretty soon the new reader will sink without a ripple just like the Librié.
DRM is a problem too, but iTunes is DRM infested as well and they sell like world-champions...
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Old 03-11-2006, 01:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderROR
A company like Sony needs to go ahead and start the ebook hype, if their store can offer beststellers early or at the same time as the harcover comes out and make it cheaper than the actual book...then we're in for a treat.
Not just cheaper, but significantly cheaper. Cheap enough to merit the cost of buying the reader. If the eBook has DRM, cheap enough to throw away when you are done with it.

With few exceptions, eBook sellers have not gotten this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderROR
imagine a world where you just have one device that contains your library...you can save space and money...no more hardcover editions for beststellers you simply have to have as soon as they're out...schoolbooks, newspapers, everything could be beamed to a (fixed or flexible) epaper device.
Actually, that was the subject of a Ben Bova book I read back in the 80's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderROR
Many people are afraid of change, and that is a pretty large change...but think about what happened to tapes when the CD came out and what is now happening to VHS cassetes due to the fact that DVD is now becoming more comfortable as a viewing AND recording medium.
If by "people" you mean "publishers" then you are right - for the most part.

If you mean "people who read alot of books" you are mostly wrong. People who read plenty of books would love to be able to carry around all the books they want to read in the immedate future on one device.

The people who stand to lose the most are the middlemen. Just like music downloading means that the RIAA is becoming irrelevant, so do eBooks mean the irrelevancy of publishers. Authors can now write their books on their PCs, pack them into the correct format, and sell copies on eBay or Amazon.com. The publishers are the only ones that will have no place in the eBook economy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderROR
The trouble is that there has been no "breakthrough" so far, and if Sony and it's competitors don't start hyping their ebook readers and shops pretty soon the new reader will sink without a ripple just like the Librié.
I don't think they need to hype their readers. People who need (or want) to carry around plenty of books are already looking at this device (or will want one when they see someone else with one).

After a while, like PCs and PDAs, the price will drop so that anyone can get an eBook reader (assuming that DRM doesn't stifle competition - that is) and then the "casual" reader will get one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderROR
DRM is a problem too, but iTunes is DRM infested as well and they sell like world-champions...
For now. More and more people are getting bit by the DRM snake as they try to use a different DAP than the iPod with iTunes. "You mean that after spending all that money with iTunes that I can't take my music to my new iRiver?"
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Old 03-11-2006, 01:16 PM   #6
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I know I have a minority opinion, but here goes. Yes, those four things are issues, but I also think those are issues the general public doesn't know squat about. I don't think having the right device is going to solve the issue.

People were hesitant to move to CDs because of the high cost of players and discs. But the difference in quality, durability and portability overcame those hesitations. When DVD came out, it supplanted CD much more quickly because people were already used to the concept of optical disc. Again, quality, durability and portability made a difference, and unlike CDs there was not a huge price premium attached to purchasing DVDs.

Proprietary DRM is pain, but that didn't stop Apple from selling a billion downloads, or stop Rhapsody/Napster/Yahoo Music Engine/fill in the blank here from taking a stab at it. They aren't raking in the billions, but they are generating real revenue.

There is an essential difference between electronic books and the other electronic media discussed here. You can't play a video game without an electronic device, nor can you play a sound recording or a video recording. Books, on the other hand, have a 100% non-electromechanical variety. It never crashes, the printed format never becomes obsolete, can change hands without restriction, and doesn't require batteries.

I honestly think electronic books will remain a niche market for a long time to come for the reason I've already stated: they don't solve problems most people have. I see electronic replacements for periodicals (magazines and newspapers with material that has a short but very topical shelf life), for reference works (programming documentation, service documents, how-tos, encyclopedias), and for things like text books. For pleasure reading and general fiction/non-fiction, I think it is going to take a hell of a lot longer. To use a buzz-word, what's the "killer app"?
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Old 03-13-2006, 07:14 PM   #7
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