Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Five Top Publishers Plan Rival to Kindle Format

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the new-media-readers dept.

Books 123

eldavojohn writes "Time Inc., News Corp., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and Meredith Corp. are teaming up to create a digital newsstand and somewhat open format that 'can render our content beautifully on those devices that come to market' instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display. Devices are being made for the new format with the launch coming next year. The format will also target smart phones and tablet computers. Will this pose a threat at all to the Kindle?"

cancel ×

123 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yet Another Format (1)

wumpus188 (657540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382804)

What's wrong with ePub?

Re:Yet Another Format (5, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382844)

The don't own it and can't control who uses it.

Re:Yet Another Format (4, Interesting)

svirre (39068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383152)

In other news: Sony just announced they are dropping their proprietary format in favor of ePub. (http://ebookstore.sony.com/press-room/)
I feel a disturbance in the force...

Re:Yet Another Format (3, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383294)

In that same vein, I find it telling that they call it "our content". No, it isn't. It's either the creator's, or mine. They are just middle-men distributing data. This new venture, though, would perpetuate their hold on the distribution channel. At the same time, I find it also telling that they're focusing on display and prettyness, rather than battery-life and ease-of-use. It's probably going to suffer the same fate as DivX.... at least, I hope.

Re:Yet Another Format (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383558)

Depends, the author could give them the rights to distribute. In which case it's there content.

It's never your content. It's your book, but that's different.

Re:Yet Another Format (0)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383620)

If the author gives them the distribution rights, it's still not their content. I understand that there's a difference between owning a book and owning content, but I find that a somewhat disturbing difference. No one ever creates anything in a vacuum. If ownership of ideas would actually be enforced, nothing new could be created. Hence I prefer to murky the waters in that area.

Re:Yet Another Format (2, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383818)

In that same vein, I find it telling that they call it "our content". No, it isn't. It's either the creator's, or mine

They believe it is theirs because of the Divine Right of Publishing Conglomerates and Corporate Power. They are invested with the power to claim something belongs to them and it must be ever so.

Personally, I'm getting a big kick out of the fact that Conde Nast and their ilk are hurting, bad. I've come to believe that anytime a rich and powerful corporation suffers, an angel gets its wings.

Re:Yet Another Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384842)

A debate about who the content belongs to by a lot of people who consider sampling to be high art.

Slashdot should have a disclaimer clearly stating "actual content creators rarely if ever post here".

Not trying to troll, I just miss the old days when I came to slashdot to read informed posts about things people here actually do on a daily basis.

Re:Yet Another Format (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383000)

What's wrong with ePub?

It's shit... like all the other eBook formats. Of course, pleasing morons who dole out hundreds for crap like the kindle and its ilk are not exactly hard to please, so this may not be obvious to early adopters.

Re:Yet Another Format (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383220)

Early adopters? E-ink devices have been out for years - even before the Kindle.

Re:Yet Another Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384002)

Yes. Early adopters, since to this day the technology cannot meet the quality standards of cheap paperback books on the most fundamental metrics.

Don't believe the modding... you are anything but insightful.

Re:Yet Another Format (2, Informative)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383474)

ePub is an ebook format. What they're talking about is more of a multi-media format.

Re:Yet Another Format (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383844)

You would think someone would first concentrate on coming out with a device that was actually a worthy successor to the "book" before they start adding color and dancing ponies.

I really don't believe anyone involved in the design and manufacture of the current crop of ebook readers is actually an avid reader.

Re:Yet Another Format (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384668)

Have you actually tried any of the current crop of ebook readers?

Because, as an avid reader, I love my ebook reader, and it isn't even close to one of the current crop.

These "Five Top Publishers" are going to come up with a NEW device to rival the Kindle in such a core area as... what, newspaper subscriptions? That's sort of a "Yeah, you could probably do that too, why not offer it?" addition to the Kindle.

They also obviously have absolutely no idea why E-Ink is so popular over LCD screens (like their device will certainly be based on) - and it is not Kindle's E-ink display, by the way, you would think a newspaper publisher could get that right, but maybe that's indicative of why they are in decline? E-Ink is so popular even though it is incredibly more expensive because it is easy to read. Like the name implies, it is virtually the same as reading a book. You get a few more barely noticeable jaggies than straight print would give you, and none of the harshness or flicker of an LCD.

So what do they plan to do? Why, introduce harshness and flicker! And poor battery life, of course. Idiots. Now if they solved the technical hurdles to creating a color e-ink display that would be eniterly different, and their devices would indeed be beautiful. But I'm pretty sure they haven't done that.

Adding the media content and all that, well they'll just be selling a locked-down internet tablet at that point. Why would someone buy their locked down internet tablet when they could almost certainly get an unlocked tablet (basically a netbook) for less (probably)?

It really sounds to me like they don't have a clue what they are doing, and the only way it will work is if they only sell their content over these devices. If they do that, I give them a 50/50 chance of either going bankrupt or changing the way we view periodicals. Either way I still won't be buying them.

Re:Yet Another Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385732)

I think that the only way publishing of magzines and news papers will survive the high cost of paper, and the cost of the employees invovled with the printing process and distribution is to get into electronic media.
Color would be important to fashion magazines, but it would also be more likely to be visually appealing to readers of just about any publication. I do wood working and I like photos in color to better visualize the projects. I also scuba dive and I like the colorful photos there as well. I don't see much point to reading magazines as text only. Books yes but magazines not so much.
I also don't believe many advertisers would purchase ads if they only can be displayed in black and white. I agree that the color readers with current tech would be no better than a net book, but they (publishers) have to do something now, they can't wait til tech is better to do color, they won't survive much longer.

Re:Yet Another Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384650)

epub is literally a zip file with html, javascript, css, flash and a manifest file. What more do you need?

Where have I heard this before... (4, Insightful)

explosionhead (574066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382806)

From TFA: "...technology that would display in color and work on a variety of devices."

Wow, its taken them this long to find out about HTML?

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383020)

From TFA: "...technology that would display in color and work on a variety of devices."

Wow, its taken them this long to find out about HTML?

HTML is open. They want "semi-open".

Which I suppose would be PDF, which also has been around for a while.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (4, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383238)

PDF is very poor for eBooks, because it doesn't have enough information regarding the significance of content on a page and the page size is hard-wired into the document, so for example PDF text doesn't reflow well if you change the font size on a reader, header and footer information get messed up, tabular information is a no-hoper on an eReader at anything but native page size and so on.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383416)

PDF is very poor for eBooks

Since the whole case they make for the need for a new format and device is that eBook formats and devices like the Kindle, while good for books, aren't good for newspapers and other periodicals, because they don't precisely reproduce the print experience and layout, what is good for eBooks isn't really at issue.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384688)

Unless and until an e-newspaper-reader is literally the size of a printed newspaper, the point still stands.

What, they're going to "precisely reproduce the print experience and layout" on a device that, if they are lucky, is a quarter the size of a regular newspaper and lower resolution too? That's nuts. Either they are going to miserably fail at "precisely reproducing the print experience and layout", or the form factor is going to be different. Furthermore, users can have radically different preferences. Some want large text with less per page, some like ample text with tiny font size. They're going to take that advantage of electronic devices versus paper away?

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

joh (27088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384076)

PDF is very poor for eBooks, because it doesn't have enough information regarding the significance of content on a page and the page size is hard-wired into the document, so for example PDF text doesn't reflow well if you change the font size on a reader, header and footer information get messed up, tabular information is a no-hoper on an eReader at anything but native page size and so on.

Rest assured that exactly this (full control over the presentation on the device) is what they want. And I even think that most consumers want this. Even books are not just data. PDF on a device with a nice large color display is just a natural fit. I don't know if I should like this, but this is *not* the Internet. This is a purely commercial thing fueled by publishers trying to make money from it. You can feel lucky if they leave out animated ads (and they'd be silly to leave them out).

Re:Where have I heard this before... (3, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385708)

That's because PDF should only be used for printing. If you are reading PDFs on your computer monitor, somebody screwed up [useit.com] .

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384068)

HTML doesn't offer sufficient control over layout. Subsequent to HTML 1.0 a sequence of band-aids (like css) have been designed to address the problem, at the cost of more and more complexity. Often publishers just want to specify the layout, not open it up to complex negotiation with the client.

Re:Where have I heard this before... (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385456)

HTML doesn't offer sufficient control over layout. Subsequent to HTML 1.0 a sequence of band-aids (like css) have been designed to address the problem, at the cost of more and more complexity. Often publishers just want to specify the layout, not open it up to complex negotiation with the client.

Silly mistake you made there, IE[3-6] doesn't offer sufficient control over layout.

Yes because I've always Wished (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382822)

That reading the news drew more of my battery for the sake of colours.

instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display

Re:Yes because I've always Wished (2, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383060)

A nice illustration or well chosen photograph can add value to an article. It can set the tone or inform in a concise way.

Re:Yes because I've always Wished (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383262)

While true, does contemporary print media actually do that much? Flipping through my local paper, I don't see much of value in the illustrations. A few graphs, a few photos of politicians, a few photos of sports games. The graphs and infographics could be rendered fine in black-and-white, anyway, at least if the paper's got a competent graphic designer.

Re:Yes because I've always Wished (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383404)

It's woefully underused, probably at least partly due to the cost of printing in color for dailies. Maybe going digital will actually inspire them to do better, like the Boston Globe's wonderful Big Picture [boston.com] blog.

Re:Yes because I've always Wished (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383488)

while true, newspapers only have a handful of color images for articles. The majority of it is for ads. magazines use lots of color, most of it in ads but there are more color images with the articles.

Re:Yes because I've always Wished (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383540)

A nice illustration or well chosen photograph can add value to an article. It can set the tone or inform in a concise way.

And epub -- which is, under the hood, basically just XHTML + a specialized adaptation of CSS + a variety of image file formats, including both bitmap (e.g., PNG) and vector (e.g., SVG) which a reader must support -- already supports illustrations and photographs, and most dead-tree newspapers don't use much color, so neither a new format nor a device with features not found in typical ebook readers -- except maybe bigger page size, but bigger paged e-ink-based readers are available -- are needed for that.

Oh, you mean like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30382828)

PDF? [wikipedia.org] Or does "open" mean "open... to anyone who wants to pay and sign our NDA"?

Re:Oh, you mean like (4, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382858)

... and pay our fees, and publish only using our proprietary DRM that requires that our server still be up and running before you can read what you've paid for, but we'll shut that server down if we don't make enough money off this.

Kindle's bad enough on the "you can't buy this, only rent it, and we won't even promise you can read it once" business model. No, this isn't a threat to Kindle.

Re:Oh, you mean like (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383254)

Open at least means not having the page and font sizes hard-wired into the document, so it can be read on different readers at different font sizes.

Kindle's energy conscious display (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382862)

This is a bad thing? Personally i like that feature.

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (4, Insightful)

malakai (136531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382980)

Only reason I got a kindle was the e-ink display. I think I get about 5 TPN*/battery change [Terry Pratchet Novels].

If only I could leave a recipe open for more than 10 minutes w/o the stupid screen saver like image coming on.

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (3, Informative)

CaptKeen (92992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383660)

If only I could leave a recipe open for more than 10 minutes w/o the stupid screen saver like image coming on.

This has been fixed in the 2.3 update - the screen timeout is now set to 20 minutes.

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385504)

Wait, eInk has screen savers? I thought part of the point was that it required no charge to maintain an image. Does an eInk screen suffer from burn-in like a CRT?

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383096)

its not like the kindle is a linux machine that amazon cant add this new magic format to is it?... iirc people are dumb

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383386)

Sure they can, if they want to. They could add native PDF support in an update for us Gen 1 owners too, but haven't, so don't hold your breath :(

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384700)

Get a Sony, all the gorious E-ink, none of the lock-in.

I know, I said Sony, miracles can happen all right!

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384886)

My Kindle will display books in Mobi, PDF, PRC, TXT and AZW formats. I am not aware of any free content that can not be viewed on the Kindle DX. I guess I am just not feeling all that locked in...

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385008)

ePub, but I own a Kindle and haven't really noticed any lockin either. I'm a Sony employee and can get a great rate on a Sony reader, and I still bought the Kindle because the store + always-on internet service is just that much better.

Re:Kindle's energy conscious display (1)

CaptKeen (92992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385000)

They could add native PDF support in an update for us Gen 1 owners too, but haven't, so don't hold your breath :(

People thought they weren't going to add native PDF for the K2 either, and that happened with the new 2.3 release that just came out. I'm not saying it'll happen for the gen1, but people were thinking it wouldn't happen for the k2 either...

Axis of Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30382874)

That's a real axis of evil

iTunes not welcome here (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382896)

Of course. Publishers aren't stupid, they're already under Amazon's thumb, and they've seen what's happened to the music industry with Apple. It's no wonder they want to run their own digital distribution.

Re:iTunes not welcome here (4, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383068)

Yes, but obviously they are stupid because they haven't learned from all competitors to iTunes thus far. The only real competitor to iTunes in music is Amazon. Why? Because Amazon's music store is completely open.

These publishers could take out iTunes tomorrow. Become a central repository where anyone can publish works for free in a format that works on all platforms. No reason for consumers to use iTunes or Amazon. One of the main weaknesses in Amazon's store is that you can't give away works for free. Add that. Make it a central hub for all content and it will succeed. Make it a closed system full of arbitrary content like Hulu, and it will never amount to much.

Re:iTunes not welcome here (4, Insightful)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383520)

For me and my friends, Amazon's selling points were lower prices, no DRM, and the mp3 format. Three things these guys aren't going to do.

Re:iTunes not welcome here (4, Insightful)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384164)

What keeps me in the iTunes ecosystem is the podcast section where you get a centralized database of different media you can listen to for free. If one of these readers made an open format for reading blogs or other podcast equivalents in the literary world (serial novels?) so that I can download and read a ton of content I may just be persuaded to buy one. That's something a real, physical book cannot do economically.

Well, that's after they come down in price. Those things are expensive!

Not threat at all to the Kindle... (1)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382900)

... cause I still get my reading material in that old standard... print.text

Re:Not threat at all to the Kindle... (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383010)

... cause I still get my reading material in that old standard... print.text

For now.

about time, Kindle sucks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30382918)

eInk (like the Kindle display) is definitely nice to read but a little color and maybe some sound would definitely help.

Kindle might be great for reading the occasional novel but it is worthless for any kind of textbook or reference material. Those just have too many pictures, charts, heck even syntax highlighting, and alternate fonts to be effectively used on the Kindle.

ePub may have potential as a standard but some of the current implementations are awful. They need to learn how to restrict the reflow (I don't know how much of that is the format and how much is the implementation).

Re:about time, Kindle sucks (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384328)

The kindle has sound. It even does audiobooks like audible(although the storage is a bit limited for that). The fonts are a software design choice, not a hardware restriction.

I'd rather have better dpi and contrast before color, but then most of my textbooks consisted of text and b/w graphs.

ePub support would be nice, though.

Re:about time, Kindle sucks (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384722)

eInk (like the Kindle display) is definitely nice to read but a little color and maybe some sound would definitely help.

They would have to get rid of the eink to do that, and reading on backlit LCDs sucks, as anybody who sits in front of a computer all day can tell you.

I can almost guarantee that this device will not compete with any traditional eInk readers. At best it will compete poorly with netbooks, but you seriously don't want to be reading a novel on one. Getting the news might be fine, but seriously, why not just get a netbook for news and youtube and whatever locked-down lame-ass equivalent they'll be putting in their tablet?

Oh? NewsCorp? (3, Informative)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382948)

Is Murdoch's News Corp actually going to enter the news business?

Re:Oh? NewsCorp? (1, Funny)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383160)

No. They're in the business of promoting family values by having women in hooters halter tops threaten to carpet bomb the middle east to save Christmas from evil Atheists who...

Ahh, Jesus Christ. I've got to lie down now.

Re:Oh? NewsCorp? (1)

Osinoche (769786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383268)

Your tag by Chomsky, automatically qualifies you for a free Lube Job, with a Car lube gun. Congratulations.

Re:Oh? NewsCorp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383178)

NY Post, Wallstreet journal, Sun,FOX News .... please don't ask them to own more news.

Obama has answered your call with a 'NO' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30382974)

Faggots, we know you voted in Obama hoping that you'd be able to buttfuck each other with a band around your finger but as it turns out he fucked you for a vote. Thanks for being his bitch.

Keep it up fellows. Keep it up.

not really Color x Energy (1)

xirusmom (815129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383058)

A device could have different settings, so you could turn on the color just when you want it. That said... the same could be done for a netbook. So while they may be highlighting the "pretty pictures", the main reason is to have a dedicated device is, of course, content control. ----- My husband is always trying to convince me that I, like him, am a geek. I keep telling him: yIDoghQo'

too bad html doesn't render in color (1)

bugi (8479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383066)

HTML renders in color too, you know.

nope (4, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383154)

Will this pose a threat at all to the Kindle?

Nope.

Regardless of how much they like color or what kind of DRM they want to bolt on, they're also going to want to actually sell their content. So they'll license the format to folks. And if Amazon is actually threatened at all by their devices or whatever... They'll do whatever it takes to license it.

Either that, or these companies will refuse to license the format... Which will quickly become irrelevant because it doesn't work on many devices... And they'll wind up abandoning it.

Re:nope (2, Insightful)

aaandre (526056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383576)

Or, license the format for a year, start selling devices they control, then after reaching critical mass, update the format on their devices and lock everyone else out.

There's no lows corporations will not sink to, as long as they turn profit in a way that's marginally legal or cheaper (incl. legal fees) than the alternative.

This is corporate morality by definition.

Will it effect the kindle? No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383236)

Daily news and publications aren't good on the kindle not because of lack of color, and pictures. It has more to do with pricing and the fact I can get it at the website instead.

I'll agree that as far as publications go, the current format limitations are pretty terrible for news, but there isn't a great way to display the information of a newspaper. Reading a newspaper and reading the articles of a newspaper are 2 different things.

Wow (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383302)

instead of the gray inked Kindle's energy conscious display.

"None of that namby pamby green shit for us," shouted Rupert 'The Dominator' Murdoch. "Our reader will run on leaded gasoline fuel cells, arsenic paste and mercury vapor canisters!" When asked about the environmental impact of such a device, Murdoch ripped out the reporter's heart and ate it in a single bite.

"Argh!" said Murdoch, and brought the press conference to a close by pissing on the press corps and killing fifty puppies.

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384952)

That was the funniest thing I read all day!!

Tough call... (2, Insightful)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383314)

Even if this gets nicely marketed and gains a decent amount of traction into the current eBook user market, what will this do to make people want eBooks?

iPhone owners, of which there are SIGNIFICANTLY more of, can get their daily news much, much easier. Unless there are a sizable number of avid readers that would benefit from having these digital readers (which they wouldn't, considering the DRM and their anti-sharing nature), I don't think prettifying magazines and such for use with readers is a good solution. Furthermore, magazines are a bit touchy, since a LOT of them are sold right from the stands because of their convenience. I'm sure that a digital model would work better for subscription-based magazines like Time that would work well as a digital platform. However, I'd like to assert that what REALLY drives magazine sales are super catchy headlines and pictures relevant to our interests. There's a reason why tabloids and celebrity trash is incredibly popular with women...

As an alternative, I think that consumers would be better served with a coalition that really investigated the sociology, psychology and technology behind what people really want in digital book readers.

Here are a few examples showing why this is needed. Most readers come with keyboards, physical and/or virtual, but they are mostly useless. Additionally, the Nook comes with a color screen...but its introductory review only gave it fair marks. Even further, they come with cellular radios so that people can download books on the fly...but only work in the United States AND are still carrier-locked! Worse, with the exception of the Nook, they don't have Wifi...which is probably most convenient to readers in areas without wireless access or without the desire of paying umpteen dollars extra per month just to download books. Finally, let's not ignore the fact that they only have one screen, which is completely counterintuitive to the way people read books. One screen works fine for short text, like newspaper articles and such, but doesn't have the same ease of use when reading novels that are hundreds of pages long!

When the iPhone was released, it had a processor that was slower than a lot of its competition, bugs up the wazoo, and didn't even have copy and paste! Nonetheless, it sold like hotcakes on sale for the same reason the iPod did...it was easy for people to use, and it made sense to own one. When eReaders approach that level of ease, I think we'll see them really (REALLY) take off.

Re:Tough call... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383362)

Care to back up your magazine claim with a reputable cite? I find it had to believe that magazines make more from news stands than subscriptions.

Re:Tough call... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383912)

Care to back up your magazine claim with a reputable cite? I find it had to believe that magazines make more from news stands than subscriptions.

I have no recent data, only what I know some magazines used to say about the issue, and an anecdotal story. They used to say that subs were the main income, because stand sales got them only a fraction of the cover price.

And Utne Reader is my story. A "green" tree-hugger magazine at the very core, socially conscious, activist. They almost beg for forgiveness because they are printed on GASP paper. The last issue I bought contained many pleas for people to be earth-friendly, to help them save money by subscribing, yada yada yada ... and NINE identical blow-in subscription order cards. Not "one nicely bound into the magazine card", NINE "fall out all over the floor if you pick the thing up by the spine" cards. They had to do it, they said, because subs were the only way they could make enough money to stay in business, even if it meant they showed everyone they were hypocrites by their actions.

Re:Tough call... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383652)

Even if this gets nicely marketed and gains a decent amount of traction into the current eBook user market, what will this do to make people want eBooks?

Its not designed to make people want eBooks.

Its designed to provide an alternative existing ebook distributors to increase the share of sales revenue that the publishers of (dying) print periodicals can extract from sales of electronic editions, and to increase the advertising sales that can be realized by those same publishers. One of the big things they trumpet about it is how attractive their platform will be for advertising.

Broadening the ebook market isn't their intent.

However, I'd like to assert that what REALLY drives magazine sales are super catchy headlines and pictures relevant to our interests.

And, no doubt, in addition to being a platform for outside advertisers, their reader will tightly integrate cross-promotional advertising (no doubt, taking into account each user's reading habits to select ads) to place teaser ads for other products to promote impulse buys.

As an alternative, I think that consumers would be better served with a coalition that really investigated the sociology, psychology and technology behind what people really want in digital book readers.

For profit companies don't exist to serve consumers, they exist to serve their investors. Whose going to fund the coalition you propose?

One screen works fine for short text, like newspaper articles and such, but doesn't have the same ease of use when reading novels that are hundreds of pages long!

IME, it works okay for novels, even on the miniature, LCD (rather than eInk) screen of the iPhone. But, yeah, a bigger screen than that, or than most current ebook readers, would be nice -- and there are lots of new e-ink readers with bigger screens that are coming out.

Re:Tough call... (2, Informative)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383744)

Mod parent up

without the desire of paying umpteen dollars extra per month just to download books

I'm 99% sure there is no montly data fee to use a kindle / nook / etc. --> That cost is built into the unit and/or the [proprietary] media

Otherwise I agree with your post in that ebooks are in a nascent state at the moment and are still years away from being popular primarily due to the limitations you listed.

Re:Tough call... (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383782)

To use 3G on any device, you need a data plan. That's what I was referring to.

Re:Tough call... (1)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383834)

The Kindle works on 3G -- does it require a data plan?

I don't believe it does

Re:Tough call... (2, Informative)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383976)

Looks like I spoke too soon. The 3G actually is free. [cnet.com.au] However, my remaining points are still valid.

Re:Tough call... (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384186)

I'm not trying to be a nudge here, but I'm confused about the two screens thing....When you are reading a typical novel, you are probably reading one page at a time. So why exactly is only seeing one page at a time such an issue? You get the same view without all the awkward shape and pages flapping about. Granted, if your consuming pages quicker than the reader can refresh it might be an issue, but few people read that quickly, especially for pleasure.

Re:Tough call... (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384024)

Sort of.. lifetime access is rolled into the cost of the device(and probably a sliver of each paid d/l). But you would never call sprint(kindle) or Att(nook) for any reason whatsoever about the device. You can even crudely browse the web with the kindle with no additional charge. So there is no "lock", the data provider is black box to you, the ebook delivery is simply magic and really, its not a cell phone. I was actually hoping the Kindle would be the start of the Wireless cartel becoming what they should be, dumb pipes.

Five Top Publishers Plan Rival to Kindle Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383360)

Of course this all has to EXIST before any of these question matter...
I'll keep my money in my pocket.

People keep missing the point (3, Insightful)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383364)

It's amazing how many people miss the point. When the Kindle and other e-readers come up in conversation, I explain time and time again exactly what e-ink is and what it means for battery life. And every single time the first thing that people ask is, "Oh, wait, so it's just in black and white?"

This is just a larger group of people missing the point of e-ink. Then again, since there are so many like-minded people, maybe they have a point of their own. Perhaps there is a market for flashy e-readers. I mean, netbooks are doing well enough.

Re:People keep missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383590)

I think it is more than that. Battery life is certainly importatnt, but evenually someone will figure out how to get as much life out of a battery while driving a color display. For me (a Kindle owner), it is more about the readability of a non-backlit display.

If they made color E-Ink, I would be on it. If they could make a hybrid that would do video with backlit color, but text with E-Ink, even better. I just don't enjoy reading for any length of time on an LCD screen, regardless of the size or battery life.

Re:People keep missing the point (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385558)

,P> Actually, color e-ink displays would have to be illuminated from the front, just like b&w e-ink displays. It has to be because what shows on the back side of the display is exactly same as the front, except with colors inverted. Subtractively, the colors on opposite sides of the display will always amount to black (or something very close to it), and thus be opaque (or at best have truly abysmal contrast if you tried to shine light through it).

The nice thing about such reflective displays is that, like most other objects that we look at, contrast improves as ambient illumination increases, and because good contrast is of paramount importance for tasks such as reading, it feels much more natural than a display that operates by hurling photons at you, and is therefore generally far easier to read for prolonged periods.

Re:People keep missing the point (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383710)

Perhaps there is a market for flashy e-readers. I mean, netbooks are doing well enough.

And if someone wants e-books laden with flash, they should buy a damn netbook.

Re:People keep missing the point...for a long time (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383726)

They tend to also forget that LCD, some of them color capable, ebook readers were the norm. They were simply ignored.

Re:People keep missing the point (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384920)

I read two-three books a week on my DX and if I am not using the wireless much, it lasts me more than a week on a charge usually closer to 2 weeks. I also spend a lot of time talking to people about (Two flights a week almost every person I sit next to has a question) and many of them do indeed seem to pout about the color.

I have no desire to look at a backlit screen after spending the day with a computer. One day they will perfect color eInk, and then there really will be a revolution.

I'm already reading magazines on my handheld. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383454)

I'm reading Asimov's SF January 2010 edition right now.

Kindle - the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383556)

I think the Kindle appeals to very specific groups of readers. Probably someone who reads mostly news periodicals and not text-based novels, non-fiction, etc. is going to be much happier with some other device. Nothing pleases everyone. I do most of my reading in waiting rooms, waiting in line, and at home late at night. I'll never need a backlight, and if I did, it would be easier to have a little LED clip-light around. A large part of my Kindle is that I can hold it without twisting my wrists to hold heavy books - even paperbacks can be large. And when enough people get to the age where arthritis and sight is their problem, many will take to some kind of e-reader, just for the versatility of form and fonts.

They just don't get it. (5, Insightful)

Whillowhim (1408725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383572)

Games? Social Networking? The fact that Murdoch is a part of this venture does not surprise me, because it shows an astounding lack of understanding for why people are buying ebook readers and what the market actually wants in a book reader appliance. Namely, they failed to do prior art to find the millions of PDAs people were using to do exactly what this new format is proposing. Or rather... not doing exactly what this format is proposing, because no one really needs it and it is an energy hog.

The Kindle and other ebook readers (i.e. the Sony one I've owned for the past 3 years) did not become popular because they were a new idea and a new device, they became popular because of a new technology: e-ink. There were book readers before the e-ink displays came around, but very few people used them because they suffered from 2 major drawbacks. The first was the power consumption of their displays meant that you had to plug them in and let them charge on a daily or twice daily basis. People already have to charge their cell phones on a daily basis, but charging one twice a day when you use it a lot is pretty annoying, and a huge amount of power is spent on the display when a cell phone is being used. The second drawback is simply screen real estate and the interface to get to it. PDAs could do exactly what is being proposed, but they didn't because it was hard to use a handheld device in that manner. Sure handheld gaming devices exist and are used... but they have buttons and layouts specifically tailored to using the device as a game. The same goes for cell phones, PDAs, and ebook readers. You can play games on cell phones, but not easily and the power usage sucks up the battery. The new format proposal looks to do exactly the same thing to ebook readers. Congratulations, you just re-invented the N-Gage.

The major "killer app" in the ebook market that no one is mentioning is really quite simple. It isn't a killer display (black and white is fine for books), it isn't a fancy new display (though color would be nice, it would also be mostly useless and a major expense), and it isn't a whiz-bang new DRMed file format. What is missing from the ebook marketplace is simply a universal storefront. Amazon books only work with the kindle. Sony's store only works with their ebook readers. The same for most other ebook stores (with a wider list of readers that can use their store... but a lower percentage of people who actually have those readers). DRM has fractured the marketplace, but selling to the entire install base of ebook readers is really quite simple because all ebook readers out there can read non-DRMed files. It is only the stores that are enforcing DRM. The first store to offer a wide selection of books in non-DRMed format at reasonable prices will suddenly be able to sell to 100% of people interested in ebooks and steal market share from everyone else out there.

I could rant on this subject for days, but the bottom line is: I can get almost any book out there for free from pirates, and I don't have to worry about losing those books when I migrate from my Sony Reader to whatever device I might end up using next (the battery is finally dying). However, I've bought most of my books from the Baen store, because I can get them fast, easily, and with good proofreading. It is easier to read them and find them, and they aren't some OCRed crap with forced line breaks and errors. Publishers have to understand that on the web, they're not competing against the price and convenience other publishers, they're competing against some random pirate scanning in a copy of their book and giving it away for free. If it isn't easy to find a copy of their book that will work on my system for a reasonable price there ($15 for a paperback selling for $8 at the local bookstore?) there is no reason to give them money.

That said, there is one thing I can see some value in for the proposed format: daily deliverables. This is something that isn't done all that well in current generation ebook readers, but it isn't exactly a new idea. There has been some freeware software for the Sony Reader that was able to download and sync online newspapers for you for quite some time now. I first ran into it a couple years back, but didn't actually use the functionality. The only real drawback to it was having to connect it to your computer in order to update, so wireless updating in a smooth manner would be worth some money. So it is valuable, but not nearly as new and unique as they seem to think. For that matter, I saw info on the new "Sony Daily" that is supposed to come out soon, and its entire premise is that it can download content wirelessly. If they can actually deliver content easily and smoothly over a wireless link, I see no real reason to move to a special format for it and the inevitable device specific DRM that tries to lock you in.

Re:They just don't get it. (1)

joh (27088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384218)

There were book readers before the e-ink displays came around, but very few people used them because they suffered from 2 major drawbacks. The first was the power consumption of their displays meant that you had to plug them in and let them charge on a daily or twice daily basis. People already have to charge their cell phones on a daily basis, but charging one twice a day when you use it a lot is pretty annoying, and a huge amount of power is spent on the display when a cell phone is being used.

But e-ink isn't the only solution to that problem. Look at Pixel Qi [pixelqi.com] which are starting to produce *now* displays with 1/2 or less the power draw of an LCD screen and full color (with backlight, b/w without backlight) and video capabilities. Make sure to see the videos of an Acer netbook with such an display [blogspot.com] . IMHO e-ink will be very soon something nobody wants to have anymore (except in very special applications).

Re:They just don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384512)

Games? Social Networking? The fact that Murdoch is a part of this venture does not surprise me, because it shows an astounding lack of understanding for why people are buying ebook readers and what the market actually wants in a book reader appliance.

It seems likely that the next generation of touchpads (like the ill-fated "crunch" or Apple's rumored device) will have a decent shot at replacing the current dedicated reader devices (and I say that as a Kindle user who likes the fact that my Kindle doesn't have a bunch of dancing raisin applications distracting me from my reading). If that happens, it will be more like an iphone or ipod-touch experience, and users will expect to do more interaction. (My Kindle feels clunky and ancient next to an iphone, although it is still better as a reading device in a number of ways.)

That said, there is one thing I can see some value in for the proposed format: daily deliverables. This is something that isn't done all that well in current generation ebook readers, but it isn't exactly a new idea. There has been some freeware software for the Sony Reader that was able to download and sync online newspapers for you for quite some time now. I first ran into it a couple years back, but didn't actually use the functionality. The only real drawback to it was having to connect it to your computer in order to update, so wireless updating in a smooth manner would be worth some money.

For years I used software like plucker to retrieve freely available newspapers and download them to a Palm Pilot. When I got my Kindle I used Calibre to do the same thing, but I found myself actually *paying* for freely downloadable content just because it was more convenient to have it delivered to my Kindle overnight and in a hassle-free format. Pay for Slate? Pay for the Atlantic or the New Yorker? Wha??? If it's cheap enough, I find myself willing to pay. And last month it was reported that some 30,000 subscribe to the WSJ on Kindle [dmwmedia.com] . Clearly, paid-for subscriptions are going to be a part of any future reader platform and any future publishing house.

The most interesting part is the very last page (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383630)

The very last page of the article consists solely of a link to a Sports Illustrated Tablet concept page. The tablet itself is the interesting part of this story. Whether or not the /. audience cares about Sports Illustrated or any other Time, Inc. property, we do care about gadgets, and I bet a great many of us would be perfectly willing to tolerate a year's subscription to SI if we could get that full color full motion video touch screen tablet for $150.

Let's start the betting pool on how long it will take to jailbreak the device. I'll bet a cookie it takes less than a week. (No, I won't take bets that it will come out anywhere near $150. Unfortunately.)

The tablet could be everything the CrunchPad should have been before the backbiting started, except for it being open, and the odds are very good it will be possible to open it (with a can opener if necessary).

The collection of companies involved is big enough that they could push the price of the device down into the realm of the Walmart special if they wanted to get serious about it. They have the ability to buy so many devices that it would take multiple Taiwanese manufacturers to fulfill their buy order, and when that happens, the prices drop like a rock because you can deliver the device by the pallet load, nationally, instead of dribbling out 5 here and 6 there to retailers. The price point is everything for such a device; nobody cares if the UI is bad or good if they look at the price and decide to buy an XBox instead for less.

Whether or not this crowd of old school publishers understands that remains to be seen. Whether or not the terms of their probable subscription plan to meet that price point is tolerable also remains to be seen. I confess the concept video did spark a case of Want in my greedy little heart. They can convert Want to Buy if they do it right. And won't if they don't.

Free (1)

Nithendil (1637041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383998)

The only way this would work is if they offer the reader free to subscribers.

Good for them (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384008)

What a great track record these companies have in designing and building hardware and software for the consumer.

Can't wait to read all about the "Kindle Killer" sometime in 2010, see it launch in 2012, and be able to buy one in the clearance rack at BestBuy in 2013.

Re:Good for them (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385576)

Yes, and they will be incredible alarm systems. You just set it to display your favorite Fox News story, and if any unwanted person breaks into your house and looks at your reader. It will set off the DRM. Sirens will go off and the police will show up in less than 2 minutes. Gotta protect those copyrights!

You'll laugh at those neighbors who don't use this great alarm system. After all, the police will only have a response time of 20 minutes or sometimes an hour, if at all. No one really cares if some loser is getting robbed, or if they are home, raped and killed. Why stop that? It makes good TV! ...I mean internet video!

so let me get this straight.. (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384078)

They want to push some color, flashy, embedded video having, online capable version of a magazine? Hmmm.. I think I've seen that somewhere..oh, yeah, like a fucking website? WTF? This already exists, its called the web and no, it will not "threaten" the kindle, whatever that means. The kindle is pretty good at one thing, books and the eInk is great for extended reading. Not text books or big picture books, but regular ol books, you know, the majority of books. If you want some type of hybrid web enabled, color/video-ized,futuristic media delivery medium then I suggest you wait until apple releases its tablet next year. Oh, and let them help you design it, dummies.

HTML does color (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384118)

I'll keep reading in HTML, so no thanks.

"somewhat" open format (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384150)

Which, I suppose, is like a "somewhat" honest politician.

Somewhat open format (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384240)

Did "open format" and "News Corp" just get mentioned in the same sentence? Even "somewhat"?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I called it.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384716)

I used to work for a magazine distributor and have seen this coming for at least a few years. Now the distributor is out of business, but far before the time of a workable digital magazine download/viewing system. The big publishers are looking to cut their costs some more. They're raking in ridiculous profit, but always want more. Getting rid of actual physical product in stores would be a great way to do that!

I for one would like colour... (1)

pdaoust007 (258232) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384906)

The only thing stopping me from buying one of these E-ink readers is the fact they only render in shades of gray. Sure that's perfectly fine for reading a novel or even newspapers but if you are reading a book about photography for example, well unless the book is about B&W photography you are kind of missing out on the whole point...

Yayyy proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385110)

Yayyyyy proprietary! Yeah, proprietary. That'll sell. Locked in or locked out. Yeah. That will earn you the wrath of customers with 30 boxes for every format, nothing working with anything else. There are a pile of formats that are non-proprietary and well designed. But these clowns won't go for that. They are in for making the big bucks, and filling landfills and not giving a damn about angry customers. They had a medium that was universal. They had to draw customers with content. If the content is acceptable, they get more customers. If the content isn't acceptable, they lose customers. The old format doesn't lock customers in or out. The new format can. Will their first big foray into this new medium be a screwup? Survey says yep!

Here we go again! (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386020)

I've been computing since 1978. I remember CP/M. I might even have some source code. Ya know why CP/M worked? It made important parts of the computer *THE*SAME* as other manufacturers. Nowdays, that's called "The BIOS".

So each of these classically-trained business-school types will go out and make completely-different versions of the "less" command with different bells and whistles so THEY will be the "next IBM".

They're not idiots; they're mired in group-think. Isn't it time to upgrade the school curriculum again?

In 1929, we had a stock market crash, causing the Great Depression. It was huge, miserable, and something no one wants again. THOSE PEOPLE who were guiding the market were trained closer to the turn of the century with this idea:

"Any time you create a product, you immediately create the demand."

Brainless, huh? I 'create a product' every time I go to the bathroom. That doesn't mean anyone actually wants it.

Please, guys- Learn?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>