Friday, May 30, 2008

E-Babel?

As e-book reader iRex's iLiad goes on sale Borders in the UK (for £399) Tom Tivan in The Bookseller looks at the bewildering multiplicity of ebook formats available which has lead some to dub the situation e-babel.

(I think the little cartoon showing the battle of the railway gauges draws a very clever analogy.)

Here's a list of the devices to date :
Launched

iRex iLiad - Holland-based firm launched the first e-reader in the UK this month, sold exclusively in Borders. Uses Linux operating systems which allows third-party development. Supports wi-fi.
Formats: XHTML, .pdfs, Mobipocket.
Retail price: £399

On launchpad

Sony Reader Launched in the US in 2006 and a 2.0 version is widely tipped to be released in the UK later this year. Titles can be purchased from Sony's Connect website which has about 40,000 titles. Can play MP3 files.
Formats: BBeB Book, Adobe pdf, Jpegs, can support Microsoft Word with conversion.
Retail price: $299

Amazon Kindle Released last November in the US to much fanfare. Features include wireless connectivity which enables downloads direct to the Kindle without a computer. Currently about 125,000 Kindle titles available from Amazon.com. UK launch TBA.
Formats: Kindle (.azw), can also read non-DRM Mobipocket files.
Retail price: $399

Two to watch

Cybook Gen 3 French firm Bokeen's device launched in the US and France in October 2007. Stores up to 1,000 books and the company promises a 100-day battery life for the casual reader.
Formats: Mobipocket, PalmDoc, HTML, .txt, .pdf.
Retail price: $350

Redius Polymer Vision Spin-off of Dutch electronics giant Philips says it will launch its mobile phone/e-book reader in the UK later this year. The device, the size of a normal mobile phone, has a five-inch "rollable screen".
Formats: TBA. Retail: TBA

2 comments:

Eli James said...

Perhaps that's one of the main reasons ebooks have failed to catch on. I guess we can only hope that one of the me wins out in the end.

Chet said...

For someone new to ebooks and wanting an ebook gadget, there is now quite a bit of choice in the market. But for someone who's been buying ebooks since the turn of the New Millenium and already has an ebook reader (albeit a PDA with ebook reading software), if I need to change reading devices, the first thing I would check out is whether it is compatible with my ebook collection. Cuz I'm not about to start my ebook collection from scratch.