Monthly Archives: September 2008

(iRex) Reader 1000 Revealed – Kindle Killer?

After tormenting e-book technorati with teasers, iRex has now revealed its Reader 1000. Some bloggers are calling it a Kindle Killer. Time will tell. Here’s what it looks like, and below is iRex’s press release predicting that the Reader 1000 spells “the end of the printed word for business professionals.”

 

Media Release
22nd September 2008
iRex Opens New Chapter In E‐Reading
Eindhoven, 22 September 2008

– The world’s leading provider of e-reading solutions, Netherlands
based iRex Technologies, has opened a new chapter in professional digital reading with the launch of the iRex 1000 series Digital Reader. The iRex suite of e-reading products is growing steadily following the success of the iLiad and iLiad Book Edition amongst the consumer market. Now the launch of the iRex 1000 series, with its larger display size and memory, is spelling the end of the printed word for business professionals. “The success of digital reading has been focused on and measured by its impact upon the book market when in fact the real revolution is happening in the business world.” Said Hans Brons, CEO of iRex. “The computer revolutionised the way we do business, but it has never offered a solution to match paper.

With the launch of the 1000 series it is now possible to ‘print’ documents onto electronic paper for the first time.” Although the iRex iLiad products with their larger screen and superior functionality have been extremely successful, the company recognised the need for a new generation solution for business. The result is the iRex 1000 series, offering superior functionality and a unique 10.2 inch screen size to allow easy reading and referencing of documents from A4 Powerpoint presentations to sophisticated PDF files and from HTML to TXT and JPEG. Increased memory ensures that users can be confident that the device will hold any and all documents they require.

Weighing less than 570 grams and only 1.2cm deep the 1000 series is an open system which synchronises easily with the PC and is able to read all common formats. The large display has 16 grey tones and storage capacity is delivered via a changeable 1GB SD card. The universal mini‐USB connector can be used for transferring files as well as uploading and content can be easily transferred from the internet. The chargeable built in Li‐Ion battery has sufficient power to last for several days.

The 1000 series will offer three products within the range from the DR1000 base version equipped with a USB connector, through the DR1000 S equipped with a stylus for writing which can serve as an unending notepad, to the DR1000 SW with stylus, plus WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity. The later model will not be available at the launch date but will be introduced at a later stage.

With a recent study demonstrating that the average US office worker prints more than 10,000 pages of paper a year, of which three quarters is thrown away within one week and more than half the same day, the 1000 series finally offers a way for companies and individuals to cut out the billions of pages of printed paper they produce each year, making a powerful contribution to the environment.

“Tax specialists, accountants and lawyers that previously had thick piles of documents can carry them in their digital reader; students and academics can easily save their textbooks in the device.” Says Brons. “Government and public sector organisations can make minutes and reports available electronically whilst medical specialists can have all their patient information and key texts at their fingertips. Plus, in addition to their professional documents they can also have their e‐books and newspapers available.”

The new devices and their place in the suite of iRex products marks a step change in the world of digital reading consolidating iRex’s position as the first choice provider of e‐reading solutions. “Our partnership with our customers, partners and particularly the developer community is vital to drive new and better technology. By offering a suite of separate e‐reader products we are not only meeting the needs but revolutionising the expectations of our customers.”

About iRex Technologies:

iRex Technologies BV have been instrumental in pushing the frontiers of digital reading since 2001 when their team developed the electronic paper display for the Sony Librié the first commercially available ereader launched in 2004. Following the formation of iRex Technologies in 2005 as a spin‐off company from Royal Philips Electronics their focus on open innovation and co‐operation has seen them become the world’s leading provider of solutions for reading written digital content with the ease and comfort of print on paper. This is combined with the interactivity, flexibility and up‐dating functionality provided by digital information.

Located on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands iRex serves the B2B market as well as the consumer market and works closely with companies and publishers to enable them to offer their content (newspapers, books, documents) digitally to clients, subscribers and employees.

– Richard Curtis

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Second Gen of E-Book Readers Swoops in on the Wings of the iRex Reader 1000

Hard on the heels of the announced unveiling of Plastic Logic’s unnamed tablet reader, Andy Greenberg of Forbes reports the imminent launch of iRex Technologies’ iRex Reader 1000. What does it look like? The image at the right is all that anyone gets to see until Monday September 22nd.

With Sony and Amazon developing next-generation e-books, the race for the hearts, minds and wallets of the consumer is on, and tablet-sized screens will definitely be a critical factor. Forbes will win handily in that aspect, as Plastic Logic won’t get its product out till late spring at the very earliest. But who will win the contest on the basis of quality is anybody’s guess. In any case both business and student users will be the beneficiaries, and though this blogger has restrained his temptation to buy a tablet up to now, it’s more than likely he will succumb when all the entries are available.

One thing that will affect my decision is the price: the projected price for the basic iRex 1000 will be about $650 but add-ons will increase the cost, bringing it to about twice the price of Kindle and Sony. On the other hand, that’s about half the price of a tablet PC. And iRex may deliver twice the value.

According to Greenberg,

The iRex Reader 1000 offers a 10.2-inch diagonal E-Inkscreen, far larger than Kindle’s 6-inch screen or even iRex’s own 8.1-inch diagonal iLiad, its last e-book model. That stretched display is designed to work with any file format, be it an e-book, a full-sized PDF, a Word document or HTML. Like earlier iRex devices, it sports a stylus and touch screen for taking notes and marking documents.

Some other issues inhibiting consumers are lack of color and no video, says Greenberg. So, even business men and women who can afford it (assuming they can even afford lead pencils in the current economy) might want to sit out the dance until those features are in place. That will happen in the next four years.

-Richard Curtis

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At Least One Number is Going Through the Roof: E-Book Sales Up 71%

At midyear trade e-book sales are more than 70% higher than those of the same period last year, according to Michael Smith, Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Smith was citing stats gathered by the Association of American Publishers.

Year to Date Revenue is also up, a whopping 47.5%.

Smith made it clear that:

* This data represents United States revenues only
* This data represents only trade e-book sales via wholesale channels. Retail numbers may be as much as double the above figures due to industry wholesale discounts.
* This data represents only data submitted from approx. 12 to 15 trade publishers
* This data does not include library, educational or professional electronic sales
* The numbers reflect the wholesale revenues of publishers
* The definition used for reporting electronic book sales is “All books delivered electronically over the Internet OR to hand-held reading devices”
* The IDPF and AAP began collecting data together starting in Q1 2006

As so many other economic indicators plunge, it’s comforting indeed to learn that this brave new industry is thriving.

– RC

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Rip, Burn and Mash – Downloaders Cast Their Eyes on Textbooks

If you’ve been wondering, as I have, when the E-Book Revolution would find its way to textbooks, it’s now no further than your keyboard.

If any aspect of the book business were ripe for revolution it’s textbooks, because it’s closest to the music industry in terms of the SRI – the Student Resentment Index. College students have been complaining for decades about being compelled to pay preposterously high prices for school books of which they may be required to use only a few chapters. Though there is a secondary market for those books, publishers and authors have gotten around it by producing new editions, often merely cosmetically enhanced, and requiring students to buy them instead of used ones. The process is particularly cruel on families on a tight budget. And it’s not that hot on the spines of students lugging fifteen or twenty pounds of books in their backpacks.

The logical question is, “Why can’t we just download?”

Noam Cohen’s article in the New York Times, Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free discusses new approaches by students and parents who feel ripped off by a conspiracy of publishers, textbook authors, and colleges.

Recognizing the injustice, at least one denizen of academia, Professor R. Preston McAfee of Cal Tech, has forgone the traditional route and a big advance in order to deliver a free download of an economics textbook he has authored. The book is also for sale in an on-demand print edition, but for a fraction of the price that students would have to pay at their college bookstore. “This market is not working very well — except for the shareholders in the textbook publishers,” Cohen quotes Professor McAfee. “We have lots of knowledge, but we are not getting it out.”

Cohen cites other attractively priced approaches to Web delivery of math, science, economics and other big-ticket textbooks. These breakthroughs come along just as tablet-reader technology solutions accelerate. A tipping point may be closer than anyone (except a core group of wild-eyed visionaries like yours truly) could have imagined a few years ago.

– Richard Curtis

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From How to Be Your Own Literary Agent

Chapter 1: An Agent Looks at the Market

In the beginning are the words: fifty thousand, seventy-five thousand, a hundred thousand or more. They comprise the book manuscripts that arrive at my agency’s offices each day in sturdy gray canvas mail sacks or piled on the United Parcel Service man’s creaking dolly. A few weeks ago, the day’s batch was assigned to our readers for preliminary evaluation. Our readers are a congenial group of highly intelligent men and women who have all worked at publishing houses and are voracious consumers of literature, the kind who, after reading manuscripts all day for a living, love nothing more than to settle down with a good book at the end of the day. These people have excellent taste and well-honed commercial instincts, and they take great joy in discovering new talent, a joy made keener by the generous bonus I offer for any manuscript they recommend that goes on to get sold.

They have completed their appraisals of the manuscripts that came in two weeks ago, and written their reports and recommendations. If a recommendation was favorable, or even ambivalent, the manuscript was then routed to one of my associates or to me. Now, at 10:00 a.m., after filling our mugs from the coffee machine in our kitchen, my staff and I have sat down to talk about the manuscripts before us. As you are an agent-in-training, I would like to invite you to attend today’s conference so you can be privy to the process by which the fate of those manuscripts is determined. And as you are also an author, and your own manuscript may be among those discussed this morning, I know you’ll want to be there. How do you take your coffee?

To read this chapter in its entirety, use Google Books.

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Attention Target Shoppers: Your All-Email-All-the-Time Peek is in Aisle Three.

David Pogue in the New York Times announces the imminent rollout – in Target Stores of all places — of The Peek, a device so single-mindedly dedicated to email that if you dissect it you will find not a trace of a bell nor a hint of a whistle. Go ahead and dissect it: for $100 you can replace it. But don’t try to browse the Web on it, check your calendar, watch a video, produce a spreadsheet, or even phone home. You want convergence? Buy a BlackBerry. The only thing The Peek converges with is your email account.

Call it a DumbPhone, but there are a lot of people who don’t care, don’t want anything more sophisticated and can’t afford it anyway.

At a glance The Peek looks like BlackBerry’s skinny kid sister in a training bra.

“The first time you turn on the Peek,” Pogue writes, “you’re asked for your e-mail address and password. If it’s a Web-based account like Hotmail, Gmail or AOL, that’s all there is to it. The Peek automatically checks for new messages every 5 to 15 minutes, and notifies you with a little chime, a little vibrating buzz and a blinking blue light in the corner. (You can also check on demand.)”

Navigation couldn’t be easier, and if you’re from the K.I.S.S. school — Keep It Simple, Stupid — the Peek is refreshingly fundamental. You can read about it in Pogue’s article or visit getpeek.com. Thumbs not included.

My prediction? A runaway hit!

– Richard Curtis

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Plastic Logic Brings E-Newspaper Closer to Your Doorstep

Driven by the same E-Ink technology that powers Sony’s eReader and Amazon’s Kindle, Mountain View California’s Plastic Logic will soon release a large-screen reader designed to carry your daily newspaper, according to Eric A. Taub in the New York Times. The screen will be twice the size of the eReader and Kindle and just about the same weight but two thirds thinner.

You’ll be able to buy it in summer of 2009, but the economics of newspaper subscription haven’t been worked out. It could be far more expensive than subscription to the paper version, not even counting the cost of the device itself. In time we may see the newspaper equivalent of Gillette’s “Give away the razor and sell the blades,” but too much remains to be settled about technology, economics, psychology and customs before the next generation is as comfortable with downloading newspapers as today’s aging populace is with ink on newsprint. But with magazines and newspapers dying, the lure of huge savings on downloads may prove overwhelmingly tempting. Though European culture may not be an accurate guide, the iRex’a iLiad newspaper and magazine reader may show us how an Old World society can adapt to a completely new way of reading the daily news.

The Plastic Logic reader (it doesn’t have a name yet – you got any suggestions?) also brings us a little closer to the tablet-sized device that will inevitably revolutionize the classroom.

– Richard Curtis

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IDPF Reports E-Book Sales Climbed 43% This Year, So Far

According to the latest statistics reported by the IDPF, the momentum of new ebook titles added by major publishers this year and the popularity of the Kindle and Sony Reader have had a big effect on E-Book revenues in the publishing industry.

“Trade eBook sales were $4,900,000 for June 2008, an 87.4% increase over June 2007. Calendar Year to Date Revenue is up 43%.” – IDPF, Sept. 4, 2008

Looking back a bit farther, in the last 2 years the ebook sector has doubled its revenue; more publishers and more titles have come into the marketplace creating a huge surge. This is what we at E-Reads are proud to see. For many years it seemed E-Books were a sleepy little industry, but the boom in consumer awareness has come from a lot of publishers seeding the growth by adding more and more mid-list and back-list titles, with digital versions finally coming out of the shadow of their print counterparts. Popular proprietary platforms like the Kindle and Reader have assisted publishers in making the decision to invest more in digitization and good DAW (Digital Archive Workflow) practices, because the big names of Sony and Amazon carry a lot of weight in boardroom decision making.

Knowing that the E-Book tide continues to swell, has that given you more confidence to try ebooks or buy a new reading device?

– Michael Gaudet

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While There’s No New Kindle Until Next Year, Sony Goes To Europe

The excitement for the next generation Kindle, fueled by lots of speculation at Wired.com, was quickly doused with some cold, wet reality from Amazon spokesman Craig Berman. Even though he didn’t deny Frog Design were up to something special for the Kindle 2.0, he’s quoted as saying “a new version will come out sometime next year at the earliest,” in a recent interview with Dow Jones.

So, that leaves another key player in the ebook device market, Sony, some nice wiggle room in the months leading up to the holiday season. Sony has yet to make any announcements about what might be coming down the pipe, but they have just started expanding into Europe, most notably by partnering with Waterstone’s, one of the UK’s biggest book retailers.

From September 2008 onwards Waterstone’s will be selling the Reader itself in over 200 of their High Street bookshops. And the product is available to pre-order for September delivery now via their online store. – From Sony’s Website, here.

It’s very likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg for Sony’s competitive march against the Kindle. Of course, E-Reads wishes them both the best of success, so we’re currently prepping many more titles to be released in both Kindle format through Amazon and as Sony ebooks (and Reader compatible ePub) this fall, supplementing the over 450+ titles we have currently available at the Sony Connect eBook Store and Amazon.

– Michael Gaudet

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