E-book madness

For a market that amounted to only $113 million last year, e-books sure are attracting a lot of interest these days. Case in point: the DVD Forum Steering Committee, which administers the technical spec for the video disc format, recently considered a proposal to create a new specification for e-books based on the DVD format. The idea, I guess, was to use DVDs to store and distribute e-books, which seems a rather inelegant solution for a business already dominated by purely electronic delivery of content via high-speed wireless networks.

Apparently, some members of DVD Forum thought so, too, because the Steering Committee ultimately rejected the proposal, according to the minutes from its last meeting.

asus-ereaderStill, barely a week goes by, it seems, without word of a new e-book reader, either announced or rumored. This week’s haul includes reports of a double-truck reader from Asus, and the leak of an internal Time Inc. document indicating the publisher is at least considering introducing its own electronic reader, reversing its earlier position that it would stick to publishing content.

The proposed settlement in the Google Book Search case, meanwhile, has engaged the attention of technology giants like Microsoft and Yahoo, all three branches of the U.S. government, two foreign governments and the administrative arm of the European Union.

Pretty impressive for a business based on an immature technology, uncertain economics and unproven consumer demand.