Book-matic? Book-tron? iBook? • 4 October 2007 • The SnowBlog

Book-matic? Book-tron? iBook?

CD sales are way down. Just thought you should know. It seems that internet downloads to MP3 players are taking a hefty chomp out of the buy-a-disc-at-the-shops market. So, that there in the pic is an Irex Iliad. You read books with it. It's get one of those fancy electrophoretic screens. What that means that is that it doesn't look like a computer screen at all. It looks like paper. Not exactly like paper, but as much like it as (say) Bulky News does. The review I just finished reading said that it looks fake - and they meant that in a good way. That's to say you think instead of a screen, someone's stuck a printed label on there instead. But you realise it's not printed paper when the display flips to the next page. It doesn't light up; you read it like a normal book and sunlight doesn't cause it any problems. You can also do other stuff with it like take notes or download new books using its wireless (wi-fi) connection. It's pricey and the software sounds a bit naff, but it's getting there. What I'd like to see is Irex allowing the hacker community to write their own software for it. That would be sweeeet (as the young folk say). For instance, many of us already use RSS to gather up our favourite blogs to read. I'd like an Iliad that would store up blog posts using its wifi connection before I left the house. Then I could read news and less worthy stuff on the train. It will display web pages already. Oh, and PDFs, so publishers could easily use it to read PDF versions of submissions and proofs. Maybe someone could write a little bit of software that lets you mark-up mistakes. Or the Guardian comes in PDF form if you don't feel like working. I don't particularly want the paperback market to go digital, but surely a chunk of it will (once Apple makes one of these things). And remember, in a year or two, when we're watching rainforest fires on TV and capital cities keep getting hit by 'freak' floods, we might start to see cutting down trees for a book that takes six hours to read and is then discarded, as being in ecologically poor taste.


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