Rediscovering the New E-Frontier
by Barbara Brynko
During my research for the redesign of Information Today some months ago, I pored over some vintage print issues from our archives. Though the paper had yellowed, the content had definitely withstood time. These pages proved to be a welcome diversion and piqued my curiosity about how far we’ve come, especially when I reached page 32 of IT December 1998. The Report from the Field by Judy Luther showcased a then-emerging industry: “E-Books: The Next Electronic Frontier.”
Think about it. That was more than 12 years ago, and ebooks were just emerging, though the ebooks and e-readers stalled more than once during this time. Costs for e-readers then ranged from $500 to $1,500 for devices that could hold 10 books at a time. Though the vendor names have changed (NuvoMedia, Inc.; Librius; and SoftBook Press), the trends from the Electronic Book ’98 sounded very familiar: “One of the hurdles for this fledgling industry is the creation of format and transmission standards that enable users to download a book to read on any device,” wrote Luther, referring to the new devices as “enlarged versions of portable digital assistants.”
Fast-forward to 2011 amid a growing field of nooks, Kindles, Sony E-Readers, and iPads. Handhelds are here, affordable, and here to stay for consumers and business. As for those standards Luther referred to? Still working on it. Oh and something else happened in 1998. Sandwiched somewhere between all those scandalous headlines detailing the exploits of Monica Lewinsky and then-President Bill Clinton, a company with a funny name was founded: Google.
Enjoy the issue.
— Barbara Brynko