eBooks: 2011 – The ebook in ten points

These ten quotes are excerpts from email interviews. Their authors are Michael Hart, John Mark Ockerbloom, Robert Beard, Jean-Paul, Nicolas Pewny, Marc Autret, Pierre Schweitzer, Denis Zwirn, Catherine Domain and Henk Slettenhaar.

August 1998

“We consider etext to be a new medium, with no real relationship to paper, other than presenting the same material, but I don’t see how paper can possibly compete once people each find their own comfortable way to etexts, especially in schools.” (Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg in 1971)

September 1998

“I’ve gotten very interested in the great potential the net has had for making literature available to a wide audience. (…) I am very excited about the potential of the internet as a mass communication medium in the coming years. I’d also like to stay involved, one way or another, in making books available to a wide audience for free via the net, whether I make this explicitly part of my professional career, or whether I just do it as a spare-time volunteer.” (John Mark Ockerbloom, founder of The Online Books Page in 1993)

October 1998

“The web will be an encyclopedia of the world by the world for the world. There will be no information or knowledge that anyone needs that will not be available. The major hindrance to international and interpersonal understanding, personal and institutional enhancement, will be removed. It would take a wilder imagination than mine to predict the effect of this development on the nature of humankind.” (Robert Beard, founder of A Web of Online Dictionaries in 1995)

June 2000

“Surfing the web is like radiating in all directions (I am interested in something and I click on all the links on a home page) or like jumping around (from one click to another, as the links appear). You can do this in the written media, of course. But the difference is striking. So the internet changed how I write. (…) I have finally found in online publishing the mobility and fluidity I was seeking.” (Jean-Paul, founder of the hypermedia website cotres.net in 1998)

February 2003

“I see the digital book of the future as a ‘full work’ putting together text, sound, images, video and interactivity: a new way to design, and write, and read, perhaps on a single book, constantly renewed, which would contain everything we have read, a single and multiple companion. Utopian? Improbable? Maybe not that much!” (Nicolas Pewny, founder of Editions du Choucas in 1992)

December 2006

“There are at least two emerging trends [in the digital book]: (a) an increasingly attractive and functional interface for reading/consultation (navigation, searching, restructuring on the fly, annotations of the user, interactive quiz); (b) a multimedia integration (video, sound, animated graphics, database) now strongly coupled to the web. No physical book offers such features. So I imagine the ebook of the future as a kind of wiki crystallized and packaged in a given format. How valuable will it be? Its value will be the one of a book: the unity and quality of editorial work!” (Marc Autret, graphic designer and founder of the website Indiscripts in 2009)

January 2007

“The luck we all have is to live this fantastic change here and now. When I was born in 1963, a computer memory could only hold a few pages of characters. Today, my music player could hold billions of pages, a true local library. Tomorrow, by the combined effect of the Moore Law and the ubiquity of networks, we will have instant access to works and knowledge. We won’t be much interested any more on which device to store information. We will be interested in handy functions and beautiful objects.” (Pierre Schweitzer, designer of the @folio project in 1996)

August 2007

“The digital book is not any more a topic for symposiums, conceptual definitions, or divination by some ‘experts’. It is a commercial product and a tool for reading. (…) We need to offer books that can be easily read on any electronic device used by customers, sooner or later with an electronic ink display. And to offer them as an industry. The digital book is not, and will never be, a niche product (dictionaries, travel guides, books for the blind). It is becoming a mass market product, with multiple forms, like the traditional book.” (Denis Zwirn, founder of the digital bookstore Numilog in 2000)

April 2010

“The internet has taken more and more space in my life! On 1st April 2010, I became a publisher after some painful training in Photoshop, InDesign, and other software. (…) In the end, there will always be unexpected developments to new inventions, among other things. When I started using the internet [in 1999], I really didn’t expect to become a publisher.” (Catherine Domain, founder of Librairie Ulysse in 1971)

June 2011

“I never liked reading a book on a computer or PDA. Now, with tablets like the Kindle of the iPad, I am finally reading ebooks. I see a huge expansion of digital reading with tablets that are easy to use and with a very large choice of ebooks thanks to electronic commerce and companies like Amazon. (…) I also use online books to learn the art of innovation!” (Henk Slettenhaar, founder of the Swiss Silicon Valley Association in 1992)

Copyright © 2011 Marie Lebert

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