> Digital Bookshops
> The End of Paper?
dijous, 13 de desembre de 2007
There has been speculation for some time about the possibility that new technologies would bring about the end of books in their conventional format, bookshops' daily bread. Leaving aside whether there is any basis to such speculation, less than a month ago the world's largest online book shop Amazon launched a device designed to read books electronically: the Kindle, which (referring to Apple's music player) has already been described as the 'iPod of books'.
Product of three years' work and, so far, available for sale only in the United States with a price tag of $399 (€270), the Kindle has storage space for more than two hundred books. Users can choose from a catalogue of 90,000 downloadable titles from the Amazon website.
The Kindle's main innovation lies in the fact that it has its own built-in Internet connection, meaning users do not need a computer to use it. The connection charge is covered by Amazon, while Kindle owners pay for the cost of the books, which are considerably cheaper than their paper versions (bestsellers, for example, cost $10, less than €7).
This feature is seen as a step forward, compared with other similar devices such as the Sony Reader, which has not been a great success as yet. The Kindle's wireless connection is based on EVDO, a technology that is not widely used outside the US. Some feel that this could limit Amazon's international sales potential.
Roughly the same size as a book, although not as thick, the Kindle weighs 300 grams, uses very little energy and can be fully recharged in just two hours. It also has a high-definition black and white screen that produces an effect that is similar to ink on paper, allowing for very fast downloads: less than a minute, according to Amazon. Kindle also offers the possibility of subscribing to and downloading newspapers, magazines and blogs.
+ Internet-based digital library projects have taken shape or been consolidated.
Apart from reading devices, a number of Internet-based digital library projects have taken shape or been consolidated, such as Project Gutenberg (the oldest of its kind), Google Book Search, The European Library, and the World Digital Library. Here, we have the Biblioteca Virtual Joan Lluís Vives, which aims to produce digital versions of works that are most representative of the Catalan Countries culture.
The End of Paper?
+ Amazon chief Jeff Bezos shows the Kindle.
All things considered, one might ask whether we are at the beginning of the end of the paper book, of whether the days of printed books (invented by the German printing pioneer Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century) are numbered. There are a whole range of opinions on the matter. Whatever happens, paper books have charm and cultural prestige, things that electronic books have not yet acquired.
> El lector Kindle, en imatges.
> Característiques del Reader de Sony.
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