Digital Books comment


It's high time books joined the 21st Century and got digital.

The dream of all the magic computers can add to text in the form factor of a book is powerful: Open it up, read, turn the page, download another book or periodical, look a word up instantly in the dictionary, dog-ear a page, download another book, search for phrase which appears in a flash, and put the book back in your bag, finish your cappuccino and go back to the office.

The power and flexibility, every gadget lovers dream...

But they're not targeted at gadget lovers and they are yet another physical gadget in a world where fewer physical gadgets provide more virtual function.

Digital books aims to be so transparently simple and accessible that they seem to be actively distancing themselves from the more traditional computers which have contained the previous revolutions.

So they feature simple and elegant interfaces for downloading and reading books and periodicals. No contamination from PCs allowed.

Great. If you are an otherwise non-computer person, if there is such a person, within reach of the digital books distribution.

(This is sounding suspiciously like that other non-computer for the rest of us; Newton...)

But it you are at all likely to spend $300 (plus a monthly $20 commitment to buy the actual information), for, no matter what the marketing is trying to project, what quite obviously runs of electricity and displays its information on an LCD screen you are not too unlikely to already be lugging around some sort of a laptop or palmtop and expect your digital devices to be capable of doing more than one thing. In fact, maybe apart from your mobile phone, I don't think it would be a stretch to think that would be part of what you consider the very minimum requirement of what a digital device ought to be able to do.

After all, imagine if instead of automatically being on your laptop you'd need to carry and access your documents, send and receive your email, check you contact database and see what time it is all on different devices?

With the digital books, you need to carry yet another piece of equipment.

This piece of equipment, even though it features digital information, won't allow you to integrate it into the rest of your information environment.

What benefit, as it is presented now does it offer?
More convenient than a book? Well it's going to be less quick and easy to flick through. Maybe a point and click table of contents or index could be more convenient than a listing with page numbers. Easier to use than a computer? Probably. But easier to use than a book? Unlikely.

But give it email and word processing capability...


©1995-2001 The Liquid Information Company