Microsoft Windows provides a free Reader program for electronic books and newspapers and, not surprisingly, there is a new version that uses the new graphics facilities in Windows Vista. The New York Times plans to exploit this new Reader by offering a version of the paper that reproduces the appearance of the printed version, but also exploits the ability to have Web links, add notes, search and so on.
According to Arthur Sulzberger Jr, publisher of The New York Times, it's blending "the accessibility and the portability of print ... with the immediacy and interactivity of the Web," according to a report in The Seattle Times.
The system was previewed at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in Seattle, which made it easy for Bill Gates to turn up and do a demo.
Comment: You might think this story is simple enough for anyone to understand. There's clearly a market for e-reader software that works offline -- and lots of companies supply it, such as Zinio. There are even people who like the idea of having an electronic version of a text that looks much like the paper original -- The Guardian offers one, for example. And such systems do more than feed editorial egos, because publishers are also looking to protect their content (making it harder to modify) and monetize it (via copy protection and by including paid advertisements) -- thus, partly, the market for Adobe PDFs.
Whether individuals like this approach is up to them to decide -- and as a matter of fact, I don't like it, so if firms are depending on getting money from me, they'll be out of luck. But that doesn't mean I'm going to throw a wobbly about it -- look at some of the clueless comments on Buzzmachine for examples. This is just one option among many. And in the end, the market will decide.
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