Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Digital revolution comes to printed word

By Eric Pfanner
Published: November 7, 2008

PARIS: "Why are books the last bastion of analog?" Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of, asked last November as his company unveiled the Kindle, a portable, electronic book-reading device. Long after other media had joined the digital revolution - in some cases only after suffering its ravages - book publishers clung to the reassuringly low-tech tools of printing press, paper and ink.

A year later, that bastion is starting to yield. The world of books is going digital, too.
Last week, American authors and publishers reached an agreement with Google to settle lawsuits over the company's Book Search program, under which Google is scanning millions of books and making their contents available on the Internet. The deal allows Google to sell electronic versions of copyrighted works that have gone out of print, a category that includes the vast majority of the world's books.

"So almost overnight, not only has the largest publishing deal been struck, but the largest bookshop in the world has been built, even if it is not quite open for business yet," wrote Neill Denny, editor of The Bookseller, a trade publication based in London, on his blog.

The settlement remains subject to approval by a U.S. court, and the bookshop would operate only in the United States for now. But the agreement is only one of many initiatives under which books are making what may be the biggest technological leap since Gutenberg invented the printing press. READ MORE...

Source: International Herald Tribune

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