More options coming for virtual readers
July 27, 1999
CNN Interactive Writer
(CNN) -- Imagine carrying more than a half-dozen novels and several popular magazines with you on a trip, but adding only a couple of pounds to your luggage.
Readers who have discovered electronic books are doing just that.
This fall marks the first anniversary of the electronic book, a portable device that lets readers electronically store and read books.
And now Time Inc. has signed an agreement to make "Fortune," "Money" and "Time" magazines available for distribution on the SoftBook Press SoftBook electronic reader.
"We think it's crucially important for us to understand and be actively involved in the digital distribution of content," said Daniel Okrent, Time Inc.'s editor-at-large said in a press release. (Time Inc. and CNN are both owned by Time Warner.)
Other magazines now available to SoftBook readers include: PC Magazine, PC World, InfoWorld and The Industry Standard.
Electronic books about the size of a paperback
Currently only one other electronic book reader is available -- NuvoMedia's Rocket eBook. But at least two other companies, Everybook and Librius, have products in the works.
The Rocket eBook is a hand-held device, about the size of a paperback. It weighs 22 ounces and holds at least 4,000 pages of text and graphics, or about 10 books. Batteries for the Rocket eBook last about 40 hours.
NuvoMedia announced July 21 that it would add software for Macintosh users. The Rocket eBook costs about $350 and is sold in stores and online. Mac users have to buy a special converter.
SoftBook Press sells its reader for about $300. It weighs about 3 pounds and holds about 1,500 pages. A company spokeswoman said it has an internal modem and does not require a computer to download books.
NuvoMedia said it offers more than 800 titles. SoftBook Press said it had more than 500 titles.
Both companies launched their electronic book readers last fall. Both offer text, pictures, graphics and other content in black and white.
More e-book readers in the works
E-book maker Everybook Inc. this fall plans to launch a reader it calls the "world's first true electronic book." Other devices have a single LCD screen. The EB Dedicated Reader will open up with two facing screens or "pages."
Everybook's device will weigh about 4 pounds and cost $1,500. But the content will be in color and it will hold up to 1,000 novels, or about 100 college textbooks.
Another company, Librius, also is expected to release an electronic reader this fall.
After purchasing any electronic reader, users still have to pay for the book.
An e-book first?
Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, announced July 19 that it would publish an e-book version of "Knockdown: The Harrowing True Account of A Yacht Race Turned Deadly" by Martin Dugard prior to sending the book to the printer.
The electronic release of the account of the 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart yachting race disaster preceded by more than a month the August 30 hardcover release of the book.
For those who can afford them, virtual versions of books have some advantages over paper books. Readers can do a "search" to see when a character was first introduced. Electronic book users also can underline passages on the screen without worrying about ruining a printed page.
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