With a lot of help from the University of Michigan, Hewlett Packard on Wednesday unveiled its beta BookPrep project, which seeks to make more than half a million rare books available through a print-on-demand system.
Using imaging and printing technology from HP Labs, HP is able to automatically scan rare books and then clean up, brighten, and align the text. As of this writing, there are exactly 472,509 books available for purchase, most of which were published before 1923.
"HP BookPrep technology allows publishers to extend the life cycle of their books, removes the cost and waste burdens of maintaining inventory, and uses a full spectrum of technologies to deliver convenient access to consumers," said Andrew Bolwell, HP's director of New Business Initiatives.
In addition to rare books, HP said it is also extending its BookPrep project to publishers and content owners who want to offer their full catalogs of titles online, The Inquirer reports.
As competition starts to heat up, we don't know who -- if anyone -- will emerge as the dominant ebook player, but if judging on looks alone, Plastic Logic's new "Que" might just take the crown.
Named after the English alphabet letter and not the Spanish equivalent for "what," the sleek-looking Que has received a glossy black finish that wasn't present in previous prototypes. And while this isn't always the case in real life, the Que has more going for it than just good looks.
The Que's letter-sized 8.5 x 11 inch screen boasts a "shatterproof" design and also includes a capacitive touch layer that won't interfere with the e-ink display. Users will be able to sketch and manipulate documents with it, and on the connectivity front, the Que features AT&T 3G and WiFi.
Despite all the Que has going for it, Plastic Logic insists it isn't going after the Kindle market, and will instead focus on providing a comprehensive platform for mobile professionals.
Google has released more information about its upcoming ebook service, called Google Editions. Unlike the Amazon store, which is tied to the Kindle, Google ebooks will be usable on any device. Then new service will feature a selection of in-print books provided by Google’s publishing partners. Google Edition should launch in the first half of 2010 and offer 400,000 to 600,000 books.
Google clarified that the service would not be entirely cloud-based. After obtaining a book the customer could have a cached version for use when no not online. This caching may be done via Google Gears.
Google Editions will utilize three business models. The first will allow consumers to purchase directly from Google Books. This model would give Google a 37% share of the sale, with the rest going to the publisher. The second model would consist of purchases made from partner retailers, with Google getting 55% of the sale. The last model Google is looking at will have customers going directly to a publisher’s website to make purchases. No decisions have been made on the split for this option.
No word yet on any device manufacturers Google plans to partner with. Maybe you should hold off on that Kindle purchase.
Digitimes claims that as the electrophoresis technology used to produce eBook reader screens matures the demand for color will pick up. Fujitsu already has a color eBook reader, the Flepia, on the market, but only available in Japan. Prime View International is expected soon to launch its own color electrophoretic display based on E-Ink’s color filter solution. And AU Optronics is developing a color e-paper without the use of color filters that is expected to start production by the end of 2010.
While Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader, with their gray-scale screens, have proven popular, color may be what’s needed for eBooks to become mainstream. Geoffery A. Fowler, of the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog, sees color as opening the door to new content providers, such as magazines, which in turn could stimulate new demand for the devices.
Fresh from the rumor mill comes word that Barnes and Noble’s upcoming eReader may be running Android. This would certainly be a nice change of pace from the fairly low-power operating environments in other eBook readers.
Android seems like a great fit for eBook readers. It already has built-in support for wireless technology, and being open-source, a custom eReader interface could easily be added on top of Android. There could even be eReader specific apps in the Android Market. Not to mention, the modding possibilities are endless. This could mean a much more open environment than the tightly controlled Kindle model Amazon has gone with. Even if it isn’t so out of the box, it is Android. Someone will come along and hack it.
Barnes and Noble has released apps for both iPhone and Blackberry, but not Android. Perhaps this is why. The mysterious eReader may be announced next month, so we could know the truth soon.
In the last few weeks, competition in the eBook market has heated up. Sony has announced new eReaders at competitive prices. Amazon has also cut the price of the Kindle slightly, while introducing an international version with GSM 3G data. These developments, along with the increased media awareness of eReaders caused Forrester to make their predictions.
Forrester also expects next year to be even better for eReaders. The Barnes & Noble backed iRex 800 will be an additional challenge to Amazon’s dominant Kindle. If Apple’s tablet ever materializes, and is a decent platform for reading books, it may also have an effect. With this rapid growth, you might as well just pack up your paper books now. Who wants to read books made from dead trees anyway?
More details have started to emerge regarding Asus' rumored e-book reader, and what we're finding out could spell bad news for Amazon and Sony. According to the Times Online UK, Asus' version is coming soon and will be the world's cheapest digital reader, undercutting the competition without skimping on features.
Citing a spokesperson for Asus in the UK, the upcoming e-book reader will sport a hinged spine so that it more closely emulates the experience of reading a book. Users will be able to see text on one screen while surfing willy nilly on the web over on the other. It's also possible that one of the screens may end up with a virtual keyboard. Perhaps best of all, Asus has decided to ditch a monochrome display in favor of full-color.
According to the report, Asus said it is considering a budget and premium version, the differences of which have yet to be determined. Either way, look for at least one Asus-branded e-book reader to surface later this year for around $150.
Finding new and creative ways to justify a gadget purchase is an important exercise (particularly for those of us with spouses). Most of the time the science is flawed, but we often choose to ignore that, particularly if its something we’ve been lusting after for months. If your one of the many who was holding out for just one more reason in favor of buying a Kindle, we might just have one for you.
According to a new study released by the Cleantech group, even though the Kindle’s environmental impact upfront was significant, the numbers drop dramatically over the devices lifespan. They say the Kindle can produce savings up to a 26,098 kg of CO2 if used to it’s fullest capacity, or 1,074 kg if it replaces a mere three books per month. The break-even point in terms of environmental impact is if your Kindle replaces 22.5 books.
There you have it, does your wife want you to save the world? Guess she needs to let you buy a Kindle.
Rather than let Amazon, Sony, and a handful of others have all the fun, Asus plans to dive into the e-book market with an e-book reader of its own. According to company president Jerry Shen, Asus will market the device under its Eee brand
According to un-named industry sources, MSI is also mulling whether or not to release an electronic book reader, reports news and rumor site DigiTimes.
This could be just the beginning of an influx of new e-book readers, suggest said sources, who pointed out that the requirements for entering the e-book market are lower than they are for netbooks. The real challenge, the sources say, is in establishing a content delivery platform.
While Amazon's Kindle seems to receive most of the attention surrounding e-book readers, don't count Sony out of the running. On the contrary, Sony has started tweaking its marketing strategy to better compete with the Kindle.
Last week, Sony introduced two new e-book readers at comparatively affordable price points of $200 and $300, with the higher priced model sporting a touchscreen interface. In addition, Sony reduced prices at its online e-book store for new releases and New York Times best sellers by $2 a pop. And finally, Sony has also started offering a handful of newer titles for free from authors such as Brenda Jackson, James Patterson, and others.
"I think the trend toward lower-priced devices will help to encourage adoptions, and it also helps that Sony's best sellers will now be priced at $9.99 -- down from $11.99," said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst for Forrester Research. "Even though there are many books priced lower than $9.99 in their online store, just being able to add this price point has psychological appeal."
Epps went to say that while Sony is moving in the right direction, it still needs to do more to make it easier for consumers to find the e-book content they're looking for through its online stores.