If you speak Dutch, listen to the interview.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
If you speak Dutch, listen to the interview.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Overlooking the e-book landscape, there are some observations to be made and conclusions drawn. Two of the most dramatic conclusions are that the present e-reader will not have a long life and that the e-book will not remain just a pdf or digital word file with a black and white illustration.
- storage of digital file on PCs as well as (sub)notebooks;
- storage of digital files on customised e-readers;
- storage of digital files on tablets.
From Lithuania comes the Oz Book. “Oz Book” is an interactive book for both children and the entire family, based on L. Frank Baum’s original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Sixty interactive illustrations featuring beautiful scenes, vivacious music, and special sound effects let children feel the spirit of the adventurous journey to Emerald City, together with all the engaging characters. By lighting candles in the dark, the child finds the sneaky Wizard, helps Scarecrow to whisk angry crows away, or sees Emerald City with green glasses. Powered by a realistic physics engine allowing fast content accessibility, the award-winning Oz Book features a user-friendly interface, magnificent particle simulations, accelerometer and aquatic and/or fire effects, as well as a memory game and magic pictures that come to life as users touch or tilt the iPad. OzBook can be accessed in four different languages including English, Lithuanian, German and Russian.
Update 27 July 2013
I just saw the rendition of a classic children's tale: The Winds in the Willow. Produced for the iPad, this classic tale has been released by UK-based innovator of digital books BeyondTheStory® as part of its +Book range. Narrator Stephen Fry introduces readers to each chapter and reads selected extracts of the adventures of Mr Toad, Ratty, Mole, and Badger. In addition, colourful animations connect the reader to the wonderful world of the riverbank and Toad Hall – a world loved by many for more than one hundred years. BeyondTheStory®, which built its unique app platform in the UK, has a string of enhanced e-books with the revised version of Kings and Queens by David Starkey, binging to life two thousand years of Britain’s monarchy; the award-winning Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Short history of e-readers: Sony EBG (1993; above left); Franklin Rocket eBook (1997; above right); iLiad (2006; below left); Bebook Neo (2010; below right). Pictures © Collection Jak Boumans
It has taken quite a while before the Dutch publishers and readers accepted e-books. The first Dutch e-books on mini-disks were produced for the Sony EBG in 1993. In 1997 the internet distribution was started. And with the sales of the e-Ink screens such as the Iliad of iRex from 2006 onwards, a new round started. By 2010 Dutch publishers started to get serious about e-books. Sony with its e-readers has been a driver in this new wave, while Kobo is now an upcoming favourite. And the turn-over of the e-books can now be measured.
- E-books from the library;
- How is the acceptance growing or translated how many e-books are pirated.
Update 1 August 2013
Recent GfK market
research shows that of all Dutch language titles only 12 per cent is available
as e-book. This is most likely a reason why the e-book market in the
Netherlands is slow.
In the first half of 2013 e-books had a turn-over of 3,5 per cent of the total book sales. Last month another source claimed 4,1 per cent. Last year the per centage was 2,4.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Sunday, July 07, 2013
Since the beginning of new media in the Netherlands at least five online technologies had been introduced and by 1997 only internet combined with e-mail had survived as proper online media, disregarding the one way television Teletekst service and CD-ROM as packaged bandwidth.
Illustration 2: Online technologies available in the Netherlands from 1980 onwards (Illustration produced by Chris
Driessen Desktopping; Leiden,
Commercial videotext services from 1980 till 1997 had only attracted 350.000 occasional users; however internet gathered almost a million users by the end of 1996. And within less than five years only three online technologies were left of the six, with only internet and e-mail as two way technologies. The technologies had gone through a wormhole, a term used in the Startrek TV series for a disturbance of the time/space-continuum.
Illustration 3: The wormhole of technologies in The Netherlands
(Illustration produced by Chris
Driessen Desktopping; Leiden,
ASCII databases and videotext services could be seen as the digital equivalent of the printed media: information was going from the publisher to the reader. With internet this changed to interactivity between the publisher and reader and users amongst themselves.
On the other hand Dutch students were using PCs more than ever and in computer courses were required to have a PC of their own. Besides the Dutch academic network SURFnet started to play a role in teaching and research with free access to the network and network resources such as e-mail and access to libraries. They experienced problems when they finished their study and got a job in society. They no longer had automatically free access. So they became a thriving force to link to internet for business and in their private environment. With information providers such as XS4ALL, Euronet, Planet Internet and World Online coming up from 1994 onwards a new generation of experienced users was born. By 1996 the milestone of the first 1 million users was reached. In 1995 internet users between 20-70 years formed 48 per cent of the internet users and 71 per cent of all internet users had online experience of less than 1 year.
Saturday, July 06, 2013
However the developing new media industry sector hardly noticed, that internet slipped into the Dutch online scene through the universities. The academic network SURFnet had linked to the NSFnet, the American academic Network and administrator of internet, in 1989. Business in The Netherlands got access to internet by 1991 and in 1992 no less than 290 companies had registered. By 1993 consumers got access through the ISP XS4ALL. By the end of 1996 there were more than one million internet users and the users of existing online technologies such as ASCII databases, videotext services, e-mail services and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) switched over to internet. By January 1st, 1997 the Dutch new media had lost their sustainability and digital media took over. In less than three years, between 1994 and 1997 internet, combined with e-mail had superseded new media such as ASCII databases, videotext services, separate e-mail services and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).
Internet providers for consumers
Illustration 1: The growth of internet users in The Netherlands and the decline of videotex users.
From 1990 till 1997 the Dutch online world was in confusion. On the one hand the online information services were busy to professionalise, but at the same time they did not see internet coming up. While the producers of ASCII databases, videotext services and CD-ROM products were busy understanding the differences between the various technologies, seeking the proper markets and in many cases busy with surviving, internet slipped into The Netherlands through the academic world. The academic network SURFnet gave access to the employees of universities and all students, wherever they were. Once students had graduated they expected access in their first job. It stimulated employers to link up to internet and they did. In 1996 Internet got a stimulus, when Microsoft (at last) launched an internet browser. By giving the Internet Explorer away for free, Microsoft overtook the existing free browser Netscape.
Between 1994 and 1997 the confusion about the technologies (ASCII, videotext, e-mail, BBS and internet) was complete. But year by year it became clear that internet was going to be the winner. Words as World Wide Web, server and e-mail became common words. Internet subscribers increased fast, while ASCII, videotext and e-mail subscribers numbers went down. In less than three years the number of internet subscribers tripled the highest number of videotext users ever.
Friday, July 05, 2013
The year 1980 was a very prosperous year for the new media in The Netherlands as Kluwer commercialised its legal database and the Dutch PTT launched its videotex service under the name Viditel. Both services were the first commercial online services in The Netherlands. They grew slowly but also experienced a slowdown, when CD-ROM for textual and numerical databases was introduced.
On April 1, 1980 Kluwer launched its legal database. Predictions were made about the number of its users. Kluwer knew the legal market for its print products and could make a cautious calculation. With 4000 lawyers distributed over 1200 offices, let alone the government officials, the prospects were good; certainly with the future lawyers who would use the assistance of a computer. Making it a profitable service was a long haul, but possible[i].
The launch of the Kluwer Legal Database, triggered the production of a number of databases. When in 1988 the first inventory of online databases, either originally produced or foreign online databases sold in The Netherlands, was produced, the amount came up to 60[ii]. Attempts were made to establish information services, nationally and internationally. In 1982 Building & Townplanning, started working in the construction sector; however the service went bankrupt in 1995. In the same year the publisher ICU started up the international information service Samsom Data Service with maritime databases MARNA and SHIPDES and other databases by Dutch and foreign information providers. The service was killed in 1984 due to the economic climate. In 1990 another attempt was made to start up a national information service by merging the national governmental computer centre to be privatised RCC with the private database service IVEV, bringing governmental databases together with business databases such as marketing, environmental and news ones into the Informatiebank. But by 1994 the plug was pulled out due to the economic recession and the absence of a feeling about internet.
The ASCII information services usually had no e-mail service alongside. E-mail services were exploited as separate services. Computer companies like IBM and GEC had e-mail services, also for third parties such as Easylink and Low Cost Linking. The Dutch PTT also launched an e-mail service, based on Dialcom software. This service had e-mail software aboard, but also database software to store newsletters. The Dutch PTT experimented in 1984 with the service named Memocom within its own organisation and with journalists reporting from the European Soccer Championship. By 1987 commercial initiatives were developed such as a newsletters for Dutch people abroad, which was distributed by fax, and a daily computer newsletter by VNU, following the example of its sister publication IDB Online in London .
Viditel was launched on August 7, 1980. Before its launch the project manager Ruiten had already forecasted a 100.000 subscribers by 1985. Asked on what research this figure was based, he pointed to the figures for the German equivalent Bildschirmtext. This service was predicted to have 1 million users by 1985; given that the population of Germany was five times the population of The Netherlands, the amount of subscribers would be 200.000, yet he chose the safe side of 100.00. But with no market experience in the online field the figures turned out to be completely wrong. After the first experimental year only 3.000 subscribers had joined the service and 130 information providers were presenting their products and services on the service. The television manufacturers got blamed, the PTT blamed the information providers and the PTT was broadcasted too optimistic figures, while the press saw the service as one big advertisement board without distinctive content.
It was quite clear that a large scale base of subscribers had to be created by other technological infrastructures and trigger services such as the telephone directory. As The Netherlands was one of the densest cabled countries in Europe, a solution was sought in two-way cable. A long-term experiment was created in the south of The Netherlands, the South-Limburg project, with the support of governments and VNU, but it failed miserably. A third attempt was made in 1988, which resulted in the service Videotex Nederland. Usually telecom technology as well as a hybrid technology (telephone line for commands and cable for information) were used, while users were not forced to take out subscription. The new marketing had some success; at its height in 1994 the amount of occasional users reached 350.000. But from that year onwards the user figures diminished.
But also the online technologies got competition from CD-ROM from 1985 onwards. The silver disc turned out to be packaged bandwidth, an information carrier for textual and numerical databases with a low updating rate. Databases which had been online could now be exploited on a disc, which was cheaper than keeping them online. The Royal Tropical Institute distributed the agricultural database TROPAG online. But once CD-ROM was available it had an easier distribution worldwide on disc. And also Kluwer started to experiment with CD-ROM. The legal publisher saw possibilities to bring down the costs for the service by combining online for the timely updated information and the disc for the archived information. An April 1989 inventory of CD-ROMs produced in The Netherlands listed 27 productions[iii]. By 1997 CD-ROM had proven to be a packaged bandwidth solution and disappeared as a textual information carrier.
By 1989 the new media had developed to a developing industry sector. Some 185 companies were full time active in new media and companies were specialising, amongst others in video and audio. Outlets for CD-ROMs were found through petrol stations and bookshops. Around these firms other supply companies sprang up such as marketing and conference companies. Also education picked up new media; in 1988 the first course interactive media designer was started at an applied university. And insight into the industry sector and its revenue capacity came from the first marketing research exercises; by 1994 the turnover of the new media industry sector, exclusively of internet, was 360 million guilders ( 175 million euro).
Thursday, July 04, 2013
It is surprising to notice that Dutch internet nomads think that before internet there was waste land as far as online is concerned. The memorial book at the occasion of the academic network SURFnet start its introduction, saying that The Netherlands was barren as far as networks was concerned before the introduction of the academic network [ii]. However, almost a history of more than twenty years of online activity has been forgotten either by the absence of the knowledge or by very selective perception of history.
The beginning of new media in 1967 in The Netherlands has been pinned down to the start of a study to use a computer in the editorial process of the international, scientific publishing house, Excerpta Medica, initiated by Dr Pierre Vinken (photograph: 3rd person from the left), a neurologist and later CEO of Reed-Elsevier. The editorial staff of Excerpta Medica abstracted articles and published them per medical discipline in magazines, provided with keywords, which were fitted in a hierarchical keyword system on cards, a thesaurus. The computer was seen as an assistant in processing the editorial workflow and the consistency of keywords and it would speed up the printing process. Besides for the future it would offer the creation of new abstract magazines and digital derivatives such as magnetic tape services and online information services. By 1969 the system was up and running, while the knowledge gained by the computer department was used in a large reference work project The Great Spectrum Encyclopaedia[iii] and, partly, in the academic library project PICA.
Search in the Kluwer legal database (ASCII)
From 1967 onwards it was a period of experimenting in a developing online world. Computer technology and telecom technology were combined into services, offering access to text and numerical databases by keyboards and dumb terminals. Central computer systems with databases could be remotely accessed and searched. As transfer protocol between the central computer and the devices, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) was used; searching in the databases was command driven. The technology for database services were developed were developed in the USA in the early seventies of last century and the technology was transferred to Europe soon after.
Commercial information services for business analysts and scientists such as SDC and Dialog came into existence and Excerpta Medica as well as some Dutch governmental services started to deliver (ASCII) abstract databases and updates to those services. By 1975 the first serious investment into database publishing was made by the publishing company Kluwer, which started to develop a legal database from 1975 onwards.
The ASCII database services were centred around mini-computers, computer devices and from 1977 onwards on personal computers. In Europe however another online technology, named videotext[iv], was developed by the British Post Office (BPO). By using the television set as a delivery station, access was gained to a central computer. While ASCII databases were line driven, videotex was page oriented, presenting a screen page of 24 lines of 40 digits, delivering text in seven colours. The information was structured like a tree with pages in numerical levels from 0 to 9. The use of television in combination with the telephone and the screen pages were seen as an advantage to reach small business enterprises and residential population. Stimulated by the emerging European Community, many postal organisations started to experiment with the technology.
In The Netherlands there was a first viewing of the system in 1976. It was only in 1978 that the technology was shown during a Dutch consumer electronics fair FIRATO and aroused some excitement among a number of companies. Given the reactions by companies the Dutch post organisation PTT announced the start of the service Viditel for 1980 later in the year. At the same time the Dutch publishing company VNU created a videotext consultancy TVS as it saw a threat for its jbo advertisements in the system for its controlled circulation weeklies.
PC services for amateurs
The trend of PC services for amateurs such as Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and consumer ASCII services like CompuServe in the USA, well known for their e-mail services at the end of the seventies, did not catch on hold in The Netherland till the mid-eighties.
From the early beginning of online information services worldwide Dutch professional users had started to use the services for mainly financial inquiries or scientific research. They used mainly American services like Reuters, Dialog, SDC and BRS. European scientific databases were made available by the European Space Agency as well as British and French services. These professionals were usually employed by and searching as an intermediary on behalf of multinational companies or universities. In 1977 they established a professional association of Dutch intermediaries (VOGIN), published a book on search techniques in 1981 and set up a training program.
[i] Geert Lovinck (2011), My First Recession: Critical Internet Cultures in Transition. Nai Publishers.
[ii] Verhoog, Jeroen (2008), SURFnet 1988-2008: twintig jaar grensverleggend netwerken. SURFnet.