Jul 12, 2008

Tech - Electronic Papyrus

Tablet sized e-Book readers that allow people to peruse their favourite authors on portable screens have several advantages over conventional paper tomes. Hundreds of books can be stored on the same device, readers can adjust text size and font and read in low or even no light. Although the device runs on electricity, the production of e-Books does not consume paper, ink and other resources used to produce printed books. Yet in spite of such obvious benefits e-Books have never really caught on with the same zing other devices like cellphones and hand-held personal music players have. One of the main reasons is that the act of reading a book is a complex, conditioned behaviour which involves and is associated with the feel, flexibility and even smell of paper. An e-Book reader, on the other hand, comes across as a hard, bulky machine where the "page" is made of glass and the "print" is way too glossy. All that could change, however, with the introduction of a new screen technology called organic thin-film-transistor which uses polymers rather than silicon and thus allows for more flexible materials. The result has been the launch of a new e-Book reader manufactured by a Dutch company, with an ultra-thin flexible screen that can be folded up and put in a pocket. If the new format catches on it could change reading habits far more dramatically than even DVDs, streaming video and MP3 players have changed the way we watch films or listen to music. That's because while the alternate big-screen or home theatre experience is still a viable — and, often, preferred — option as far as cinema and recordings are concerned, book reading cannot be enhanced any further, either socially or in any technical sense. But besides storage capacity, design and flexibility, other factors will also determine e-Books' success in the future. Text, for instance, can be searched automatically and cross-referenced using hyperlinks, making them ideal for any work which benefits from such functions. Also, since most offer wireless internet connectivity, books can be purchased and downloaded directly without having to visit a bookstore. This kind of ease of distributing text means that they can be used to stimulate higher sales of books and so help authors and publishers in the process too

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