The world did not hold out for e-books of course, lastly 10 years ago the Rocket-Book already was a serious example barely having attracted the consumers’ interest. Comparisons with MP3 players are not only poor but also not even appropriate. Plugging in a MP3-Player to the stereo to listen music the performance is – except of an exiguous inferior rendition quality – nothing else but having plugged in a compact disc.
Print media show scores of major disparities. Not only the opportunity to read without any current supply but the haptic perception and presentation quality of a printed work dramatically differ from nowadays available e-books. Nevertheless, there is a substantial aspect gaining increasing acceptation: numerous print media sustain a short durability initiating with daily newspaper beyond directories pursuing juridical works dictionaries or literature related to software. Production and transport of ephemeral papers is hardly tolerable under ecological and economical aspects, meanwhile.
The world is in need of e-books but ultimately did not realise this fact - and does not need all the books in electronic form. The electronic format fits best literature that is not read sequentially. For one thing these are reference works since electronic supports the search enormously, and for another thing print media with minor half-life period and high relevance. All publishing houses offering such works ought to possess their products in structured electronic form - in other words: in the form of SGML or XML data. From these, HTML dialects that are basis of all currently available e-book appliances are generated with reasonable effort.
PDF as data format for e-books is only a rotten compromise. Although the latest reading devices are capable to display these data but they are clearly legible only if page width corresponds to screen width. Here, a free scalability with automatic adjustment of the alignment is not available so it might easily happen that the readers feel like the audience of a tennis match.
For some time past, the distribution channels exist in form of the internet often enough there are business models, e.g. sales of individually assembled professional literature, and those who are in a position to offer works of their publishing program converted into e-books at short notice have good chances to benefit from a fast-growing market.
Uli Stühlen 9.3.2009