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Five Top Publishers Plan Rival to Kindle Format 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-media-readers dept.
eldavojohn writes "Time Inc., News Corp., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and Meredith Corp. are teaming up to create a digital newsstand and somewhat open format that 'can render our content beautifully on those devices that come to market' instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display. Devices are being made for the new format with the launch coming next year. The format will also target smart phones and tablet computers. Will this pose a threat at all to the Kindle?"
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Five Top Publishers Plan Rival to Kindle Format

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  • What's wrong with ePub?

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:42PM (#30382844) Homepage

      The don't own it and can't control who uses it.

      • by svirre (39068) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:12PM (#30383152)

        In other news: Sony just announced they are dropping their proprietary format in favor of ePub. (http://ebookstore.sony.com/press-room/)
        I feel a disturbance in the force...

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:27PM (#30383294)

        In that same vein, I find it telling that they call it "our content". No, it isn't. It's either the creator's, or mine. They are just middle-men distributing data. This new venture, though, would perpetuate their hold on the distribution channel. At the same time, I find it also telling that they're focusing on display and prettyness, rather than battery-life and ease-of-use. It's probably going to suffer the same fate as DivX.... at least, I hope.

        • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:55PM (#30383558) Homepage Journal

          Depends, the author could give them the rights to distribute. In which case it's there content.

          It's never your content. It's your book, but that's different.

          • If the author gives them the distribution rights, it's still not their content. I understand that there's a difference between owning a book and owning content, but I find that a somewhat disturbing difference. No one ever creates anything in a vacuum. If ownership of ideas would actually be enforced, nothing new could be created. Hence I prefer to murky the waters in that area.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          In that same vein, I find it telling that they call it "our content". No, it isn't. It's either the creator's, or mine

          They believe it is theirs because of the Divine Right of Publishing Conglomerates and Corporate Power. They are invested with the power to claim something belongs to them and it must be ever so.

          Personally, I'm getting a big kick out of the fact that Conde Nast and their ilk are hurting, bad. I've come to believe that anytime a rich and powerful corporation suffers, an angel gets its wings.

          • by ubrgeek (679399)
            From the article, it sounds like they're talking about using the format for their news publications (or whatever the equivalent is for Fox):

            "Content producers will also struggle to get people to pay for magazines and newspapers because many also offer free versions online."

            That's absolutely their content. When you're a reporter and you file a story, the story belongs to the newspaper, magazine, whatever. It's in no way yours (although, as a reporter I was allowed to use clippings of my stories as writi
        • by DrXym (126579)
          It's probably going to suffer the same fate as DivX.... at least, I hope.

          DivX is an implementation of the MPEG 4 Part 2 ASP video codec (with some proprietary extensions). DIVX was a hated DVD based rental format which died a quick and well deserved death.

          Anyway I think that people who buy into a proprietary format for media they wish to keep need their heads examined. Purchasing content for a device that is tied to one store or one manufacturer is incredibly short sighted. It doesn't really matter for

          • by afex (693734)

            Purchasing content for a device that is tied to one store or one manufacturer is incredibly short sighted.

            i do slightly agree with you, but you have to admit that the itunes/apple model has worked exceptionally well. And when i say "worked", i just mean that 90% of kids and 20-somethings use it and love it. I know there are some tradeoffs (you hear horror stories about people losing or rebuying everything), but you can't ignore their stranglehold on the market.
            (disclaimer: i use itunes because you almost have to with an iphone, but i do not purchase/use it for music)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fizzol (598030)
      ePub is an ebook format. What they're talking about is more of a multi-media format.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @08:26PM (#30383844) Homepage Journal

        You would think someone would first concentrate on coming out with a device that was actually a worthy successor to the "book" before they start adding color and dancing ponies.

        I really don't believe anyone involved in the design and manufacture of the current crop of ebook readers is actually an avid reader.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:34PM (#30384668)

          Have you actually tried any of the current crop of ebook readers?

          Because, as an avid reader, I love my ebook reader, and it isn't even close to one of the current crop.

          These "Five Top Publishers" are going to come up with a NEW device to rival the Kindle in such a core area as... what, newspaper subscriptions? That's sort of a "Yeah, you could probably do that too, why not offer it?" addition to the Kindle.

          They also obviously have absolutely no idea why E-Ink is so popular over LCD screens (like their device will certainly be based on) - and it is not Kindle's E-ink display, by the way, you would think a newspaper publisher could get that right, but maybe that's indicative of why they are in decline? E-Ink is so popular even though it is incredibly more expensive because it is easy to read. Like the name implies, it is virtually the same as reading a book. You get a few more barely noticeable jaggies than straight print would give you, and none of the harshness or flicker of an LCD.

          So what do they plan to do? Why, introduce harshness and flicker! And poor battery life, of course. Idiots. Now if they solved the technical hurdles to creating a color e-ink display that would be eniterly different, and their devices would indeed be beautiful. But I'm pretty sure they haven't done that.

          Adding the media content and all that, well they'll just be selling a locked-down internet tablet at that point. Why would someone buy their locked down internet tablet when they could almost certainly get an unlocked tablet (basically a netbook) for less (probably)?

          It really sounds to me like they don't have a clue what they are doing, and the only way it will work is if they only sell their content over these devices. If they do that, I give them a 50/50 chance of either going bankrupt or changing the way we view periodicals. Either way I still won't be buying them.

          • by hey! (33014)

            Why, introduce harshness and flicker!

            Simple. Because they hate their customers.

  • by explosionhead (574066) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:39PM (#30382806) Homepage

    From TFA: "...technology that would display in color and work on a variety of devices."

    Wow, its taken them this long to find out about HTML?

    • From TFA: "...technology that would display in color and work on a variety of devices."

      Wow, its taken them this long to find out about HTML?

      HTML is open. They want "semi-open".

      Which I suppose would be PDF, which also has been around for a while.

      • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:20PM (#30383238)
        PDF is very poor for eBooks, because it doesn't have enough information regarding the significance of content on a page and the page size is hard-wired into the document, so for example PDF text doesn't reflow well if you change the font size on a reader, header and footer information get messed up, tabular information is a no-hoper on an eReader at anything but native page size and so on.
        • PDF is very poor for eBooks

          Since the whole case they make for the need for a new format and device is that eBook formats and devices like the Kindle, while good for books, aren't good for newspapers and other periodicals, because they don't precisely reproduce the print experience and layout, what is good for eBooks isn't really at issue.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Unless and until an e-newspaper-reader is literally the size of a printed newspaper, the point still stands.

            What, they're going to "precisely reproduce the print experience and layout" on a device that, if they are lucky, is a quarter the size of a regular newspaper and lower resolution too? That's nuts. Either they are going to miserably fail at "precisely reproducing the print experience and layout", or the form factor is going to be different. Furthermore, users can have radically different preference

        • by joh (27088)

          PDF is very poor for eBooks, because it doesn't have enough information regarding the significance of content on a page and the page size is hard-wired into the document, so for example PDF text doesn't reflow well if you change the font size on a reader, header and footer information get messed up, tabular information is a no-hoper on an eReader at anything but native page size and so on.

          Rest assured that exactly this (full control over the presentation on the device) is what they want. And I even think that most consumers want this. Even books are not just data. PDF on a device with a nice large color display is just a natural fit. I don't know if I should like this, but this is *not* the Internet. This is a purely commercial thing fueled by publishers trying to make money from it. You can feel lucky if they leave out animated ads (and they'd be silly to leave them out).

        • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:55AM (#30385708) Homepage

          That's because PDF should only be used for printing. If you are reading PDFs on your computer monitor, somebody screwed up [useit.com].

          • by digitig (1056110)
            Your RA is correct, but only discusses the case where a PDF is presented as part of a web-browsing experience. That's not the usual situation with eBooks. If I were to download Twilight to my eReader (in any format) my problem wouldn't be that it comes out as a linear block of text. The same is true of news articles -- just how much internal navigation is needed in a news article? And links to related articles isn't the answer, because eBooks are not web pages. I read eBooks in flight, where access to dynam
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          so for example PDF text doesn't reflow well if you change the font size on a reader

          Actually, for some time it's been possible to use the Adobe tools to create a PDF designed to be reflowed [adobe.com]. (And I do mean some time.) Unfortunately, it doesn't happen automatically. Only the very shittiest PDFs won't reflow graciously in a recent Acrobat reader though (mostly crap eBook OCR)

    • by timeOday (582209)
      HTML doesn't offer sufficient control over layout. Subsequent to HTML 1.0 a sequence of band-aids (like css) have been designed to address the problem, at the cost of more and more complexity. Often publishers just want to specify the layout, not open it up to complex negotiation with the client.
      • HTML doesn't offer sufficient control over layout. Subsequent to HTML 1.0 a sequence of band-aids (like css) have been designed to address the problem, at the cost of more and more complexity. Often publishers just want to specify the layout, not open it up to complex negotiation with the client.

        Silly mistake you made there, IE[3-6] doesn't offer sufficient control over layout.

        • by Rysc (136391) *

          I can only assume you've never written a web page.

          CSS was designed by people who never wrote web pages, either. If it had been designed by a web developer there would be a notion of the viewport and a simple way to align content. Floating boxes, 50% negative margins and javascript hacks don't count.

          Even if you ignore IE (I've been doing that for years) it's still incredibly complex to precisely lay things out in the browser.

          • by Retric (704075)

            Precise layout is a sign of poor webpage design.

            HTML was designed so the clent decides how to present information to the user. A good HTML desgin can work well on an iPhone or 30" monitor at the same time.

            • by Rysc (136391) *

              *Fixed* layout is not friendly to different clients, but precise layout is *necessary* for any non-trivial page.

              You basically are saying "there is no problem, you're just doing it wrong" -- which is bullshit. Writing web sites that display smoothly across clients and devices is *fiendishly difficult* and it should not be that way. You would not get crappy web sites that look terrible on a cell phone if it weren't too hard to do it the "right way" and still make it look good on a normal screen. The cop-out a

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:40PM (#30382822) Journal

    That reading the news drew more of my battery for the sake of colours.

    instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      A nice illustration or well chosen photograph can add value to an article. It can set the tone or inform in a concise way.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:23PM (#30383262)

        While true, does contemporary print media actually do that much? Flipping through my local paper, I don't see much of value in the illustrations. A few graphs, a few photos of politicians, a few photos of sports games. The graphs and infographics could be rendered fine in black-and-white, anyway, at least if the paper's got a competent graphic designer.

        • It's woefully underused, probably at least partly due to the cost of printing in color for dailies. Maybe going digital will actually inspire them to do better, like the Boston Globe's wonderful Big Picture [boston.com] blog.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        while true, newspapers only have a handful of color images for articles. The majority of it is for ads. magazines use lots of color, most of it in ads but there are more color images with the articles.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        A nice illustration or well chosen photograph can add value to an article. It can set the tone or inform in a concise way.

        And epub -- which is, under the hood, basically just XHTML + a specialized adaptation of CSS + a variety of image file formats, including both bitmap (e.g., PNG) and vector (e.g., SVG) which a reader must support -- already supports illustrations and photographs, and most dead-tree newspapers don't use much color, so neither a new format nor a device with features not found in typical eb

      • by Phoghat (1288088)
        Yeah, a picture is worth what, a 1000 words?
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:44PM (#30382862) Homepage Journal

    This is a bad thing? Personally i like that feature.

    • by malakai (136531) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:55PM (#30382980) Journal

      Only reason I got a kindle was the e-ink display. I think I get about 5 TPN*/battery change [Terry Pratchet Novels].

      If only I could leave a recipe open for more than 10 minutes w/o the stupid screen saver like image coming on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CaptKeen (92992) *

        If only I could leave a recipe open for more than 10 minutes w/o the stupid screen saver like image coming on.

        This has been fixed in the 2.3 update - the screen timeout is now set to 20 minutes.

        • Wait, eInk has screen savers? I thought part of the point was that it required no charge to maintain an image. Does an eInk screen suffer from burn-in like a CRT?
          • by Itchyeyes (908311)

            I think it has more to do with the wireless radio inside the thing. When wireless is turned on, it drains the battery faster than almost any other part of the device. So it's set to go to sleep when not in use. I think it's just an oversight that it still goes to sleep when wireless is turned off.

  • Of course. Publishers aren't stupid, they're already under Amazon's thumb, and they've seen what's happened to the music industry with Apple. It's no wonder they want to run their own digital distribution.

    • by tthomas48 (180798) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:05PM (#30383068) Homepage

      Yes, but obviously they are stupid because they haven't learned from all competitors to iTunes thus far. The only real competitor to iTunes in music is Amazon. Why? Because Amazon's music store is completely open.

      These publishers could take out iTunes tomorrow. Become a central repository where anyone can publish works for free in a format that works on all platforms. No reason for consumers to use iTunes or Amazon. One of the main weaknesses in Amazon's store is that you can't give away works for free. Add that. Make it a central hub for all content and it will succeed. Make it a closed system full of arbitrary content like Hulu, and it will never amount to much.

      • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:50PM (#30383520)
        For me and my friends, Amazon's selling points were lower prices, no DRM, and the mp3 format. Three things these guys aren't going to do.
        • by Phoghat (1288088)
          I find an awful lot of books cheap on Amazon, sometimes free or $0.99.
          • by tthomas48 (180798)

            Yes, but Amazon dictates free. The cheapest you or I could sell a book for is $0.99.

      • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @09:14PM (#30384164)
        What keeps me in the iTunes ecosystem is the podcast section where you get a centralized database of different media you can listen to for free. If one of these readers made an open format for reading blogs or other podcast equivalents in the literary world (serial novels?) so that I can download and read a ton of content I may just be persuaded to buy one. That's something a real, physical book cannot do economically.

        Well, that's after they come down in price. Those things are expensive!
        • by Itchyeyes (908311)

          Here you go [amazon.com]

          Granted, there's a small subscription fee, generally $1/month, but it's a start. Generally, I find the Google Reader + Smart Phone combination to be better for consuming blogs and other web content though. Web content just isn't usually authored with a black and white screen in mind.

        • by Whorhay (1319089)

          The price, $300 for the Sony model I like, doesn't seem all that bad. The price of books in general for it seems high to me.

          So far as serialized type content like blogs and web comics go I think it's entirely possible right now. I don't know that we really need to wait for anyone to create an open format for it. We just need a site that specializes in providing content from other sites reformatted to fit neatly into any of the already available open formats. The implementation could be iffy though as you'd

  • ... cause I still get my reading material in that old standard... print.text
  • by Anonymous Coward

    eInk (like the Kindle display) is definitely nice to read but a little color and maybe some sound would definitely help.

    Kindle might be great for reading the occasional novel but it is worthless for any kind of textbook or reference material. Those just have too many pictures, charts, heck even syntax highlighting, and alternate fonts to be effectively used on the Kindle.

    ePub may have potential as a standard but some of the current implementations are awful. They need to learn how to restrict the reflow (

    • by Zerth (26112)

      The kindle has sound. It even does audiobooks like audible(although the storage is a bit limited for that). The fonts are a software design choice, not a hardware restriction.

      I'd rather have better dpi and contrast before color, but then most of my textbooks consisted of text and b/w graphs.

      ePub support would be nice, though.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      eInk (like the Kindle display) is definitely nice to read but a little color and maybe some sound would definitely help.

      They would have to get rid of the eink to do that, and reading on backlit LCDs sucks, as anybody who sits in front of a computer all day can tell you.

      I can almost guarantee that this device will not compete with any traditional eInk readers. At best it will compete poorly with netbooks, but you seriously don't want to be reading a novel on one. Getting the news might be fine, but seriously, why not just get a netbook for news and youtube and whatever locked-down lame-ass equivalent they'll be putting in t

  • Oh? NewsCorp? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @06:53PM (#30382948) Homepage Journal

    Is Murdoch's News Corp actually going to enter the news business?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by copponex (13876)

      No. They're in the business of promoting family values by having women in hooters halter tops threaten to carpet bomb the middle east to save Christmas from evil Atheists who...

      Ahh, Jesus Christ. I've got to lie down now.

  • A device could have different settings, so you could turn on the color just when you want it. That said... the same could be done for a netbook. So while they may be highlighting the "pretty pictures", the main reason is to have a dedicated device is, of course, content control. ----- My husband is always trying to convince me that I, like him, am a geek. I keep telling him: yIDoghQo'
  • HTML renders in color too, you know.

  • nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:12PM (#30383154)

    Will this pose a threat at all to the Kindle?

    Nope.

    Regardless of how much they like color or what kind of DRM they want to bolt on, they're also going to want to actually sell their content. So they'll license the format to folks. And if Amazon is actually threatened at all by their devices or whatever... They'll do whatever it takes to license it.

    Either that, or these companies will refuse to license the format... Which will quickly become irrelevant because it doesn't work on many devices... And they'll wind up abandoning it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aaandre (526056)

      Or, license the format for a year, start selling devices they control, then after reaching critical mass, update the format on their devices and lock everyone else out.

      There's no lows corporations will not sink to, as long as they turn profit in a way that's marginally legal or cheaper (incl. legal fees) than the alternative.

      This is corporate morality by definition.

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:28PM (#30383302)

    instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display.

    "None of that namby pamby green shit for us," shouted Rupert 'The Dominator' Murdoch. "Our reader will run on leaded gasoline fuel cells, arsenic paste and mercury vapor canisters!" When asked about the environmental impact of such a device, Murdoch ripped out the reporter's heart and ate it in a single bite.

    "Argh!" said Murdoch, and brought the press conference to a close by pissing on the press corps and killing fifty puppies.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That was the funniest thing I read all day!!

  • Tough call... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated&ema,il> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:29PM (#30383314) Journal

    Even if this gets nicely marketed and gains a decent amount of traction into the current eBook user market, what will this do to make people want eBooks?

    iPhone owners, of which there are SIGNIFICANTLY more of, can get their daily news much, much easier. Unless there are a sizable number of avid readers that would benefit from having these digital readers (which they wouldn't, considering the DRM and their anti-sharing nature), I don't think prettifying magazines and such for use with readers is a good solution. Furthermore, magazines are a bit touchy, since a LOT of them are sold right from the stands because of their convenience. I'm sure that a digital model would work better for subscription-based magazines like Time that would work well as a digital platform. However, I'd like to assert that what REALLY drives magazine sales are super catchy headlines and pictures relevant to our interests. There's a reason why tabloids and celebrity trash is incredibly popular with women...

    As an alternative, I think that consumers would be better served with a coalition that really investigated the sociology, psychology and technology behind what people really want in digital book readers.

    Here are a few examples showing why this is needed. Most readers come with keyboards, physical and/or virtual, but they are mostly useless. Additionally, the Nook comes with a color screen...but its introductory review only gave it fair marks. Even further, they come with cellular radios so that people can download books on the fly...but only work in the United States AND are still carrier-locked! Worse, with the exception of the Nook, they don't have Wifi...which is probably most convenient to readers in areas without wireless access or without the desire of paying umpteen dollars extra per month just to download books. Finally, let's not ignore the fact that they only have one screen, which is completely counterintuitive to the way people read books. One screen works fine for short text, like newspaper articles and such, but doesn't have the same ease of use when reading novels that are hundreds of pages long!

    When the iPhone was released, it had a processor that was slower than a lot of its competition, bugs up the wazoo, and didn't even have copy and paste! Nonetheless, it sold like hotcakes on sale for the same reason the iPod did...it was easy for people to use, and it made sense to own one. When eReaders approach that level of ease, I think we'll see them really (REALLY) take off.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Care to back up your magazine claim with a reputable cite? I find it had to believe that magazines make more from news stands than subscriptions.
      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        Care to back up your magazine claim with a reputable cite? I find it had to believe that magazines make more from news stands than subscriptions.

        I have no recent data, only what I know some magazines used to say about the issue, and an anecdotal story. They used to say that subs were the main income, because stand sales got them only a fraction of the cover price.

        And Utne Reader is my story. A "green" tree-hugger magazine at the very core, socially conscious, activist. They almost beg for forgiveness bec

    • Even if this gets nicely marketed and gains a decent amount of traction into the current eBook user market, what will this do to make people want eBooks?

      Its not designed to make people want eBooks.

      Its designed to provide an alternative existing ebook distributors to increase the share of sales revenue that the publishers of (dying) print periodicals can extract from sales of electronic editions, and to increase the advertising sales that can be realized by those same publishers. One of the big things they t

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bourdain (683477)
      Mod parent up

      without the desire of paying umpteen dollars extra per month just to download books

      I'm 99% sure there is no montly data fee to use a kindle / nook / etc. --> That cost is built into the unit and/or the [proprietary] media

      Otherwise I agree with your post in that ebooks are in a nascent state at the moment and are still years away from being popular primarily due to the limitations you listed.

      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        To use 3G on any device, you need a data plan. That's what I was referring to.

        • by Bourdain (683477)
          The Kindle works on 3G -- does it require a data plan?

          I don't believe it does
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MrCrassic (994046)

          Looks like I spoke too soon. The 3G actually is free. [cnet.com.au] However, my remaining points are still valid.

          • by Rytr23 (704409)
            I'm not trying to be a nudge here, but I'm confused about the two screens thing....When you are reading a typical novel, you are probably reading one page at a time. So why exactly is only seeing one page at a time such an issue? You get the same view without all the awkward shape and pages flapping about. Granted, if your consuming pages quicker than the reader can refresh it might be an issue, but few people read that quickly, especially for pleasure.
        • by Rytr23 (704409)
          Sort of.. lifetime access is rolled into the cost of the device(and probably a sliver of each paid d/l). But you would never call sprint(kindle) or Att(nook) for any reason whatsoever about the device. You can even crudely browse the web with the kindle with no additional charge. So there is no "lock", the data provider is black box to you, the ebook delivery is simply magic and really, its not a cell phone. I was actually hoping the Kindle would be the start of the Wireless cartel becoming what they s
  • by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:36PM (#30383364)
    It's amazing how many people miss the point. When the Kindle and other e-readers come up in conversation, I explain time and time again exactly what e-ink is and what it means for battery life. And every single time the first thing that people ask is, "Oh, wait, so it's just in black and white?"

    This is just a larger group of people missing the point of e-ink. Then again, since there are so many like-minded people, maybe they have a point of their own. Perhaps there is a market for flashy e-readers. I mean, netbooks are doing well enough.
    • Perhaps there is a market for flashy e-readers. I mean, netbooks are doing well enough.

      And if someone wants e-books laden with flash, they should buy a damn netbook.

    • They tend to also forget that LCD, some of them color capable, ebook readers were the norm. They were simply ignored.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      I read two-three books a week on my DX and if I am not using the wireless much, it lasts me more than a week on a charge usually closer to 2 weeks. I also spend a lot of time talking to people about (Two flights a week almost every person I sit next to has a question) and many of them do indeed seem to pout about the color.

      I have no desire to look at a backlit screen after spending the day with a computer. One day they will perfect color eInk, and then there really will be a revolution.

  • I'm reading Asimov's SF January 2010 edition right now.

  • by Whillowhim (1408725) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @07:56PM (#30383572)

    Games? Social Networking? The fact that Murdoch is a part of this venture does not surprise me, because it shows an astounding lack of understanding for why people are buying ebook readers and what the market actually wants in a book reader appliance. Namely, they failed to do prior art to find the millions of PDAs people were using to do exactly what this new format is proposing. Or rather... not doing exactly what this format is proposing, because no one really needs it and it is an energy hog.

    The Kindle and other ebook readers (i.e. the Sony one I've owned for the past 3 years) did not become popular because they were a new idea and a new device, they became popular because of a new technology: e-ink. There were book readers before the e-ink displays came around, but very few people used them because they suffered from 2 major drawbacks. The first was the power consumption of their displays meant that you had to plug them in and let them charge on a daily or twice daily basis. People already have to charge their cell phones on a daily basis, but charging one twice a day when you use it a lot is pretty annoying, and a huge amount of power is spent on the display when a cell phone is being used. The second drawback is simply screen real estate and the interface to get to it. PDAs could do exactly what is being proposed, but they didn't because it was hard to use a handheld device in that manner. Sure handheld gaming devices exist and are used... but they have buttons and layouts specifically tailored to using the device as a game. The same goes for cell phones, PDAs, and ebook readers. You can play games on cell phones, but not easily and the power usage sucks up the battery. The new format proposal looks to do exactly the same thing to ebook readers. Congratulations, you just re-invented the N-Gage.

    The major "killer app" in the ebook market that no one is mentioning is really quite simple. It isn't a killer display (black and white is fine for books), it isn't a fancy new display (though color would be nice, it would also be mostly useless and a major expense), and it isn't a whiz-bang new DRMed file format. What is missing from the ebook marketplace is simply a universal storefront. Amazon books only work with the kindle. Sony's store only works with their ebook readers. The same for most other ebook stores (with a wider list of readers that can use their store... but a lower percentage of people who actually have those readers). DRM has fractured the marketplace, but selling to the entire install base of ebook readers is really quite simple because all ebook readers out there can read non-DRMed files. It is only the stores that are enforcing DRM. The first store to offer a wide selection of books in non-DRMed format at reasonable prices will suddenly be able to sell to 100% of people interested in ebooks and steal market share from everyone else out there.

    I could rant on this subject for days, but the bottom line is: I can get almost any book out there for free from pirates, and I don't have to worry about losing those books when I migrate from my Sony Reader to whatever device I might end up using next (the battery is finally dying). However, I've bought most of my books from the Baen store, because I can get them fast, easily, and with good proofreading. It is easier to read them and find them, and they aren't some OCRed crap with forced line breaks and errors. Publishers have to understand that on the web, they're not competing against the price and convenience other publishers, they're competing against some random pirate scanning in a copy of their book and giving it away for free. If it isn't easy to find a copy of their book that will work on my system for a reasonable price there ($15 for a paperback selling for $8 at the local bookstore?) there is no reason to give them money.

    That said, there is one thing I can see some value in for the proposed format: daily deliverables. This is something that isn't done all that well in current generation ebook reade

    • by joh (27088)

      There were book readers before the e-ink displays came around, but very few people used them because they suffered from 2 major drawbacks. The first was the power consumption of their displays meant that you had to plug them in and let them charge on a daily or twice daily basis. People already have to charge their cell phones on a daily basis, but charging one twice a day when you use it a lot is pretty annoying, and a huge amount of power is spent on the display when a cell phone is being used.

      But e-ink isn't the only solution to that problem. Look at Pixel Qi [pixelqi.com] which are starting to produce *now* displays with 1/2 or less the power draw of an LCD screen and full color (with backlight, b/w without backlight) and video capabilities. Make sure to see the videos of an Acer netbook with such an display [blogspot.com]. IMHO e-ink will be very soon something nobody wants to have anymore (except in very special applications).

  • The very last page of the article consists solely of a link to a Sports Illustrated Tablet concept page. The tablet itself is the interesting part of this story. Whether or not the /. audience cares about Sports Illustrated or any other Time, Inc. property, we do care about gadgets, and I bet a great many of us would be perfectly willing to tolerate a year's subscription to SI if we could get that full color full motion video touch screen tablet for $150.

    Let's start the betting pool on how long it will ta

  • The only way this would work is if they offer the reader free to subscribers.

  • What a great track record these companies have in designing and building hardware and software for the consumer.

    Can't wait to read all about the "Kindle Killer" sometime in 2010, see it launch in 2012, and be able to buy one in the clearance rack at BestBuy in 2013.

    • by sowth (748135) *

      Yes, and they will be incredible alarm systems. You just set it to display your favorite Fox News story, and if any unwanted person breaks into your house and looks at your reader. It will set off the DRM. Sirens will go off and the police will show up in less than 2 minutes. Gotta protect those copyrights!

      You'll laugh at those neighbors who don't use this great alarm system. After all, the police will only have a response time of 20 minutes or sometimes an hour, if at all. No one really cares if some los

  • They want to push some color, flashy, embedded video having, online capable version of a magazine? Hmmm.. I think I've seen that somewhere..oh, yeah, like a fucking website? WTF? This already exists, its called the web and no, it will not "threaten" the kindle, whatever that means. The kindle is pretty good at one thing, books and the eInk is great for extended reading. Not text books or big picture books, but regular ol books, you know, the majority of books. If you want some type of hybrid
  • I'll keep reading in HTML, so no thanks.

  • Which, I suppose, is like a "somewhat" honest politician.

  • Did "open format" and "News Corp" just get mentioned in the same sentence? Even "somewhat"?

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

  • I used to work for a magazine distributor and have seen this coming for at least a few years. Now the distributor is out of business, but far before the time of a workable digital magazine download/viewing system. The big publishers are looking to cut their costs some more. They're raking in ridiculous profit, but always want more. Getting rid of actual physical product in stores would be a great way to do that!

  • The only thing stopping me from buying one of these E-ink readers is the fact they only render in shades of gray. Sure that's perfectly fine for reading a novel or even newspapers but if you are reading a book about photography for example, well unless the book is about B&W photography you are kind of missing out on the whole point...

  • mobipocket and topaz does color just fine. most Kindle ebooks are actually in color, you just see them in gray because that's the trade off of a display that is a power miser and also readable in a wide range of lighting environments. The device also supports PDF (poorly). And formats like ePub can display just about anything you can do in CSS/HTML4. not that Kindle supports ePub, but really this is more about format wars than price.

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