More e-books, more ways
May 11, 1999
by James A. Martin
(IDG) -- Want to check out "Gone with the Wind" from the library? No problem. Just click to your library's Web site, download the Civil War saga onto your subnotebook computer, and take it along to read on the plane. When the two-week lending period is up, just transmit the electronic book back to the library.
That's one of many scenarios that could come true if a new e-book technology takes hold. Acton, Massachusetts-based Glassbook has announced that it has developed and will market an e-book standard for the Internet.
Electronic Book Exchange (known as EBX) is a comprehensive e-book standard developed for book publishers, sellers, distributors, libraries, and consumers alike, according to Richard Price, Glassbook spokesperson.
EBX supports both Microsoft's Open eBook format (which incorporates HTML) and Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format.
Because EBX is based on open standards, the technology will make it possible for consumers to download e-books for viewing on a variety of devices such as a Glassbook reader, desktop PC, or Windows CE handheld computer, Price says.
By comparison, existing e-book systems today are built primarily on proprietary technologies, which restricts their users to viewing only those e-books designed to run on that particular device.
In addition, EBX incorporates e-commerce standards, enabling bookstores to have kiosks for downloading EBX-compliant e-books or offer them from their Web site.
The EBX standard also includes copyright-protection encryption, preventing unauthorized book duplication and distribution. You would be able to copy only a page or two from an e-book, as is the case with a paperbound book. And e-books checked out from the library would need to be returned or purchased, because an EBX-formatted e-book is, in essence, the same as a physical book, Price adds. The user has the right to only one copy.
Glassbook is working with a number of e-book publishers and distributors but can not announce specific agreements now, Price said. E-books based on the EBX standard, as well as the consumer Glassbook reader, should be available by fall, he added.
The information exchange economy
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