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People on various e-mail lists are mulling over the hardware ramifications of Barnes & Noble’s buy of Fictionwise.

Will we finally see an E Ink device branded and sold by Fictionwise—perhaps developed by ETI, the current supplier of FW’s LCD-based eBookWise machines? Or how about the e-paper gizmo, with the 11-inch screen, from Plastic Logic? That’s the company for which Fictionwise is to create an e-store.

Might the PL device also carry B&N branding as part of a war against the Kindle? Since PL is so open to others doing their own branding, this just might happen at both Fictionwise and B&N’s forthcoming e-bookstore. A guess, nothing more.

The photos and video of the PL machine, by the way, were made by TeleRead Co-Editor Paul Biba during the 2009 Tools of Change conference in New York.

imageNotice the Kindle to the right of the PL device in the lower photo? That’s a nice size comparison. Meanwhile the video, though flawed, should give you a feel for the possibilities of the Plastic Logic reader. In terms of screen quality, I’d have liked more contrast between the text and background. But like Paul’s brave video efforts, this is a helpful start.

Double click on the upper photo and the video for more detail.

Other possible FW/B&N synergy: E-and-P synching (a way to help safeguard BN’s stores?)

I’ll also be curious if Fictionwise and B&N can encourage the sale of discounted bundles of electronic and paper books. You know—read on the road on your iPhone or E Ink machine and at home with your paper book. There might even be syncing possibilities. Fictionwise perhaps could devise a way to search for paper page numbers within suitably formatted e-books keyed to specific paper editions. Also, you might be able to check your e-book gizmo for the paper page number, so you could effortlessly read on when you switched to the pulped-wood edition.

Simply put, who says the syncing should only happen between different e-book-capable devices? Or between audio books and e-books? Now that Fictionwise and B&N control the eReader format, many good things could create synergies between E and P.

Reminder of the obvious: Amazon could well do its own e-and-p syncing. Great. I hope it happens. But with all those stores around, B&N has one helluva lot more incentive to be the e-and-p synch leader.

Also of interest: Nelson makes books available in all formats in one price, in PW.

Speaking of hardware: Check out Dear Author’s detailed comparison of the new Kindle and the Sony Readers. Jane likes the Sony better because of its sidelighting, among other things—just the ticket for nighttime reading when you don’t want to disturb your spouse. But she correctly says your reading needs may differ from hers.

 
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