In an article on e-Books in The Observer, former Microsoft vice president (and e-Book reader expert) Dick Brass is quoted as saying: “In the next five to 10 years, maybe much sooner, we’ll see a decent, ultra-lightweight, portable e-paper device that allows book lovers to download titles straight from the internet, either legally or illegally. Tablet devices are getting lighter and cheaper. Eventually, and I’m betting it will be before 2020, one of these devices, like the iPod in music, will offer an experience close enough to paper to shift the paradigm to digital distribution. That will mark the beginning of the end of the age of paper books.”
Will we seen an e-Book sooner than later? Actually, there are e-Books already. The question is: Will an e-Book device soon find success at an iPod level? The technology is going in the right direction, but it’s not quite there yet. Display technology and battery life are two challenges. I think another issue is that we haven’t settled around how the e-Books are to be used. You need a very good understanding of how people are going to use a device before you can create an iPod-class device. That was its geneous.
Of course, there is the issue of the content side too. Will publishers block wide e-Book adoption? Hopefully not. However, I’m guessing that part of the success of any e-Book device will be that it can reduce consumption costs by some significant amount. Publishers are struggling with this an Google’s print search features, for instance.
We’ll have to see how things shake out.