Saturday, June 06, 2009

BNP 1353 A changing e-Book world (2)

It is not only e-readers, where you see changes. Also in the distribution of e-books things are moving. Google will soon offer a program for publishers to offer the digital versions of their books. But also the e-book veteran, the Project Gutenberg, will increase its offer.

Google has a long standing tradition with publishers. In 2004 it launched its book search service, in which copyrighted books could be read online. Google was heavily attacked by authors and publishers. Yet it made 1,5 copyright free books available in the public domain through its site. Google is launching a download service in which publishers can set their own price on the book; this in contrast to Amazon, which offers books in Mobipocket format and optionally on its own e-reader Kindle.
Details about the service still have to be published. No word on the format, except for the guarantee that a book must be readable on an e-reader, on PC or a mobile phone. It is rumoured that the e-books will be transformed to HTML. There is also no word on whether Google will have its own e-reader produced (with android software).
Also the veteran of the electronic book, the Project Gutenberg, is shifting gear and making eyes to mobile phones. The first goal of Project Gutenberg was simply to reach totals of estimated audiences of 1.5% of the world population, or the total of 100 million people. With the advent of mobile phone access the project management is now setting its goal at 15 percent of the world population or 1 billion. Given that there are approximately 4.5 billion mobile phones now in service around the world that means that the project with its offer could reach just over one-fifth of all mobile phone users to accomplish this goal.

Given the estimated 4.5 billion mobile phones for which eBooks could be made, presuming they can all display plain eBooks, and the extremely slow rise in Kindle sales as compared to the iPod, iPhone, Blackberry Curve, and all the others, Project Gutenberg could reach more readers than Kindle and Sony combined. This attempt to reach these mobile phones has to include books in many more languages than English.

This means that Project Gutenberg will have to be more multi-lingual, if Project Gutenberg is to reach anyone beyond the number of people comfortable enough with English to read the eBooks on the mobile phones. There are already well over a thousand book titles in French, followed by lesser numbers in German and the other more popular languages, but not nearly enough to really offer a library in these languages.

Project Gutenberg especially aims at the smart phones and iPhones in particular. With iTunes as a shop it has a software and content distributor in one. Various iPhone applications for eBooks have appeared in the iTunes appl shop such as Plucker, the defacto mobile eBook reader format for Project Gutenberg, houses over 20,000 free eBooks. Another eText reader for the iPhone is Eucalyptus.

Blog Posting Number: 1353

tags: e-books, content

No comments: