Gemstar 1150Fictionwise will soon sell rebranded Rocket eBook-style devices, then move on to newer technology.

“This is not a dead end,” Steve Pendergrast told a Fictionwise email list, “it’s a revival of the entire technology.” Yes! Imagine–a dedicated e-book device, coming along just when small-screened cell phones were pushing aside PDAs. Way to go, Fictionwise!


–The devices will at first be “re-branded 1150s,” Gemstar devices.

–Price will be $99, including “a $20 store credit for any content you want. We will also be able to migrate 1150, 1200, and 2150 class Gemstar and RCA devices to take content from a new store we will be launching just for this purpose, and we have agreements with major publishers to provide new content for these devices.”

–Although offering content in a proprietary format, Fictionwise will also offer users the ability to use their own content–either on launch or soon thereafter.

This hardware revival is is great news for the orphaned owners of the machines, both those who like Gutenberg-style books and those partial to commercial titles from large publishers.

OpenReader angle

So what’s the OpenReader angle? Well, just as with the older Palms, it should be possible to convert content in one way or another, as long as the appropriate people help. In the long run, just as the Net surprassed CompuServe, Prodigy and the like, so will an open format prevail over proprietary alternatives.

Fictionwise is a pretty savvy outfit, and one hopes that it will join some rather important e-bookers in support of OpenReader, which will reduce costs for publishers, retailers and, yes, readers. Who wants to pay software companies to reinvent the basic formats and the DRM again and again? Better to have a consortium and compete over features meaningful to writers, pubishers and human readers, such as content-creation tools and easy interfaces in software readers.

Jon Noring and I and others associated with Open Reader hope that Fictionwise will be open to the above. Fictionwise could even simultaneously offer its own format and OpenReader and let the marketplace decide.


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