The paperback continuum

Remember Penny’s “computer book” in the ’80’s cartoon Inspector Gadget? It was a PDA, cellphone, tricorder and hacking tool all in one, and consisted of paper-like colour touchscreen pages bound into a hardcover tome. How I wish for an ebook like that!

Alas, the ebooks of today have not taken the world – or word – by storm.

At least one ebook company, Waterfront Media, has cleverly differentiated its products by harnessing ebooks’ greatest strength – their interactivity. Turning their ebooks into 1414.jpghypermedia generates value-add that would be impossible with content on paper. For example, Waterfront’s diet books have shopping list generators and integrated access to their support forum website.

On the other front, Sony will be releasing the Librie, the first ever portable e-ink ebook reader. Based on Phillip’s e-ink technology, the Librie can hold 500 texts and display them on a 170dpi, 800×600 greyscale screen. While still too rich for my blood, ebooks need ultra-high resolution, anti-reflective displays to match the quality of print and paper, and initiatives such as this and IBM’s Reontgen 200dpi LCD display brings us one step closer to that goal.

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