Monday, March 17, 2008

Discovering New eBook Players

Sometimes its fun to unearth news and sometimes its hard work. Today those smart industry watches at Publishers Lunch made what could have been a throwaway paragraph about a new ebook reader patent from Discovery Communications, who we all know through their Discovery Channel. The news was at best brief and said nothing other than they had got US patent clearance.

Finding more information was very difficult but appears that have been awarded a patent is for an ‘‘electronic book secure communication system” for the home and library by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on March 6. The patent is ‘‘a new way to distribute books and other textual information to bookstores, libraries and consumers.”

Apparently from a report lodged in the e-book home system is essentially an electronic library that is accessible usable through a portable book shaped electronic reader.

The concept of the system is apparently based on utilising video signal format to also deliver text and a subsystem that allows it to be received and readers to select books and periodicals. This communications distribution is the obvious key ‘‘a novel combination of new technology involving the television, cable, telephone and computer industries.” and similar in concept to the wireless approach that Amazon took in removing the need for the intermediary PC.

The patent is reported to say ‘‘Using the entire video signal, thousands of books may be transmitted within just one hour of air time.” The e-book reader would ‘‘both read books and to interact with the home library software.”

We are left to wonder whether it will ever happen or whether it was just another patent filed. What is clear is that the Sony and the Kindle are transient technology solutions and like others that compete in different user space will be forced into the convergence route. The Blackberry is a classic example of a one dimensional tool thaty is now chasing the convergence ticket to survive. Steve Jobs knows that the iPhone will be a point of convergence so there is little point in developing short life product.

Interestingly there will be the library battles between the Adobe Digital Editions and other media libraries and Discovery may be angling to position themselves here as trusted gatekeepers. What is clear is that the tipping point will not be the ebookreader as we know it today.