Monday, September 08, 2008

Another e-reader. Blah, blah, blah blah ...

Is it just me, or is this whole holy grail thing of an e-paper reader starting to sound like a great idea -- yesterday, or last year maybe?

The latest is an entry from Plastic Logic, twice the size of the Kindle. It's described as "the size of a sheet of paper for a copy machine," whatever that is. Do you mean 8.5 x 11, or tabloid, or legal -- my copy machine takes all three. (Note to editing desks, try to have reporters NOT parrot back the news release.)

The ga-ga factor here is that it's supposed to be able to display newspaper pages (and by implication somehow save the industry).

And, wow, five years ago, even three, I'd be impressed with that.

But why would I want to carry a single-function "reader" device with me when the world of multifunction mobile devices seems about to explode?

Now, seen as a small -- very small -- beachhead for the idea that someday a flexible multicolored, touch screen display might be somehow configured into a mutifunction mobile information appliance that will still fit into my pocket, I'll concede.

But as the great hope for "newspapers" any more, I'm seeing it less and less. The world is moving on. The iPhone is a beachhead, too, and it's playing to a far different, and I think wider, user and generation -- one that is comfortable moving among digital streams, doesn't need its information "paginated" and is becoming more adept at using myriad digital tools for which it hardly makes a whit whether they appear on a nicely laid out newspaper page. I'm afraid that "print" people will see this as a digital validation of the "print" product and fail to use these other tools successfully -- just as fatal as believing your future is solely in ink on paper.

Bravo for what seems to be another advance in "digital signage" for advertisers (excuse me, but the batteries in my Esquire just ran out). Just pardon me if I'm a bit restrained in my applause.

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