When will ePaper/eBooks finally be ready?

August 21, 2005

My friend Mike who works at Amazon e-mailed me about Amazon Shorts today. It’s a mini-Amazon store where you can buy short stories/writings in digital format for $0.49 each.

It seems like a pretty neat idea but they definitely need more content up there. It’s almost a chicken and egg problem – you need more content to attract customers and you need customers to get writers to publish their content on the site. From what I can tell, they currently have 64 selections (none of which I am particularly interested in reading *sigh* :S)

On a side note, what I’d love to see is an all you can eat model. People love Netflix because they are basically paying $15 / month to get as much content as they can possibly watch. If there was a good service for written content that would be great – an electronically delivered Bookflix?

Looking around the Amazon Shorts store, it reminded me of how lame the uptake of digital paper has been. I thought that surely by now, we’d all be reading our newspapers, textbooks, novels, and magazines in digital format on our tablet PCs. But instead, tablet PC hasn’t seen very much penetration in the market and eBooks are getting barely any sales.

Many people have told me that they just enjoy reading a physical book – holding one, flipping the pages, etc. Growing up in the digital age, I don’t really understand the attachment to books as a delivery mechanism. I’d much rather have a high contrast LCD on a tablet that would allow me to place digital bookmarks, resize text, copy/paste excerpts, hyperlink my way around, and be filled with rich content – embedded audio, video, links to online discussion boards, etc.

I know, I know, instead of complaining about it, I should do something about it – and I almost did. I had a job offer from the Amazon Digital Media Technologies team, the group that’s building electronic delivery infrastructure for books, magazines, video, audio, and more. Unfortunately, my passion for helping people organize their personal information beat out my passion for digital content delivery. Doesn’t stop me from wanting a coherent and ubiquitous eBook experience though šŸ™‚

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No Responses Yet to “When will ePaper/eBooks finally be ready?”


  1. Regarding your comment about ‘don’t really understand the attachment …’, it depends on the kind of book you are reading. I have seen and tried Microsoft’s tablet pc but it is a little annoying with all the borders etc. It’s probably a UI/usability problem, but a book is way better than a tablet pc to just read from start to end. I have never been able to utilize the Safari online even though the content is excellent. I cannot even imagine reading a textbook from a table pc. Reading newspapers, reference books digitally is fine, but for normal books (that’s why we have books, don’t we) it just doesn’t cut it.

  2. markjen Says:

    Hi Pradeep, thanks for the comment šŸ™‚

    I don’t think books are the ideal format either. When I’m reading a book, I oftentimes get uncomfortable – either my neck starts to hurt or my arms start to hurt or something (maybe I’m weird).

    My hope is that tablet PC technology will improve in the near future to where it’s just as easy to read as a book, but includes a ton of enhanced features. I’m also hoping it comes along sooner rather than later šŸ™‚

  3. MickoZ Says:

    With normal screen, apparently the reading speed is not the same (because of the angle), but I guess with other device like you said, it might be as fast.

    There is also something else. I love to use computer (and I use it way too much daily), I watch TV since I am a child, etc. But is it good for our eyes to always be flooded by a screen? That is just a question that arise. As much as we love it, it is also very nice to live out there without computer, tv, etc. — a skill we are losing šŸ˜‰


  4. You are right mickoz, I recently switched apartments and didn’t have internet for two weeks. It was really nice, because come back from school, no internet, read a few books and it’s a different experience. Good for the eyes too.


  5. I really liked your article. My compliments!! Thank you!


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