Monday, November 26, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (4)

I am back behind my desk and digesting the presentations of the Academic Network Conferences as well as the presentations of the Europrix Top Talent Awards. And the social networks such as LinkedIn (read that Murdoch might buy it; if so I will quit) and Facebook will have to be updated now and new contacts entered.

At the conference I had a small slot to talk about digital paper, e-books and digital newspapers. I had taken two units of my retro gadgets along with the ilIad in order to show the difference in screens and weight. I took my first Sony EB reader of 1993 along together with the minidisk of the former bestseller The Joy of Sex. It is a perfect illustration of how a colour print coffee table book does not fit on an electronic book reader (yet). This EB production was hardly a joy of an experience of any kind! I had also taken along the Rocket e-Book with Alice in Wonderland. The iLiad was much appreciated.

In my presentation I speculated whether the iPod business model would apply to the text iPod Kindle of Amazon. The success of the iPod can be explained of the business model. In the music industry digitisation has already a long history with vast digital libraries. Before the introduction of the iPod a lot of illegal copying and downloading on computers and portable memories. Apple as industry champion changed all this by introducing a sexy and smart device, a legal download service and a tariff card for downloading songs which was reasonable.

With Kindle there is a series of questions: is Amazon an acceptable industry champion, is there a vast library of digital books and newspapers, is the Kindle device sexy and smart, does the Amazon download service work? I would say that Amazon is an acceptable industry champion. The service has been around long enough to be named reliable, but it does not have such an innovative radiance as Apple. The question about the vast libraries of e-books and digital newspapers is not easy to answer. Publishers have digitised since the seventies, but have not made it’s a standard practice with standards for archiving. Only when Google, followed by Microsoft and Amazon went into digitising books the first attempts for vast libraries have been seen. The newspaper industry is still more fragmented and behind in this process of archiving. Amazon’s text iPod is not comparable to Apple’s iPod. The Kindle is not really sexy; in fact it is awful in design. However it has smart features. And last of all, Amazon has set up a tariff card for the digital books, magazines and newspapers which look reasonable. In the final analysis two features of the iPod success formula are lacking in parts. The slow progression of standardisation for archiving text products is hampering the formation of vast libraries to be tapped; this of course a problem of effort and time. The sexy radiance of the Kindle is of course a temporary problem: Amazon has now a base design e-reader and can start to develop real design e-readers.

The iLiad caught the interest of some of the more technology savvy people in the audience. One representative of the FH Joanneum was very impressed. I asked the people interested in this development to study the phenomenon of e-readers and develop good software for this type of applications. The iLiad is open and software can be developed for it and should be developed for it. So I hope some institutes will pick this development up.

Blog Posting Number:: 934

Tags: e-book, digital paper, e-reader, digital newspaper, , ,

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