scouring the infosphere

Color Plastic Displays Will Lead to Better eBooks---Soon?

New Scientist printed an article this week on new displays that put transistors on plastic, enabling flexible displays. I keep thinking–hoping–that the days of eBooks will soon be here. Maybe these displays will hasten their arrival.

I hope the publishers are getting ready for this. Luckily for them I think their very analog, atom-based technology doesn’t lend itself well to pirating. Though that could be to their detriment as people continue to move to free content on the web. Granted there is much that can only be gotten in books, but those who release their books for free or cheap may gain a leg up in the new world where cheap, light, flexible eBooks are available.

There’s still talk of a flat fee for all downloaded and shared music. Imagine a world where one could pay a flat fee for all the books you could read. Without getting into the mechanics of how something like that would work, just think about how everyone being able to access any book they want at any time would affect the knowledge circulating in the world. How nice it would be if that knowledge locked away in those analog books could circulate with the words on the web.

Just before I finished this article, I found out about an article about Google’s book project in this week’s New Yorker, Google’s Moon Shot. I’m not sure if Google’s effort is going to be the path to ubiquitous eBooks, but it can’t hurt. Unless, as the article says, the law suits against Google, which will most likely be settled out of court, set up a huge financial barrier for other entrants to the arena. I can’t imagine anyone wants a monopoly set up in front of a huge pool of knowledge. If the music industry moves to some sort of common pool of money that gets (hopefully) equitably distributed, perhaps other industries will realize they can make money in an at least semi-free business model.

And if the various industries don’t see the value, perhaps some of the individual actors within the industries will move and either lead the others into the future, or create an entirely new industry built on the skeletons of the old industry.