Okay, I know I promised a follow-up to yesterday's post, but I lied. We'll have to save that post for this weekend.
Why? Because I left the notes I made over lunch at the University, and I'm too lazy to recreate them from scratch. AND because I have the latest release in Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. Only my great love for you has me posting to this blog instead of curling up with White Night. If you're not familiar with Jim Butcher, go here. The Dresden Files are now a television series on the Sci-Fi Channel.
So, at the last minute, I'm punting with another story.
About a month ago, Publishers Weekly (PW) had a lengthy article titled "The Road to the Digital Future," focussing on Britain's response to the digital marketplace. The article said:
Legal and academic publishing is thoroughly digitized
. . . and e-books have been appearing since 2001. But while the digital audio market is showing distinct signs of life, there is no serious market for e-books and won't be until a decent reader comes along.
More and more British are signing up for broadband service and Internet shopping. Internet purchases in 2006 rose by more than 50%, accounting for 10% of all U.K. retail sales. (PW)
And now we come to the part of the story that interested me. The UK has more than 60 million mobile phones--approximately one per person. And the Brits are using those mobile phones to link to the Internet. In December, almost 16 million people connected to the Internet using their mobile phones. (PW)
My second ever post to this blog dated September 15, 2005, here, asked the question "Can 70 Million Japanese Be Wrong?" I explained that the Japanese were very comfortable reading novels on their cell phones.
Taking a cue from the Japanese, British publishers are moving toward digital downloads of books on mobile phones.
According to the London Times Online (LTO), a British company, ICUE, now offers "the capability to transfer books into mobile phone-friendly content."
The Times said, "Electronic books (eBooks) have been more popular in the US than in Britain but demand has been stifled by the lack of an eBook equivalent to the iPod."
Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins and Mills & Boon have all signed up with ICUE.
The UK publishing director for Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd. said ". . . it's women who like reading on phones, and romantic fiction that's rising to the top." She also said, "When you are using your mobile phone, nobody knows what you are doing, whether you are texting a friend or playing a game." (LTO)
The Wikipedia entry for ICUE says:
The technology takes the form of a Java application which is downloaded to the user handset via cellular wireless networks. Once downloaded, the user can acess all books on their mobile phone at any time, with or without wireless network coverage. The program can be accessed for free by texting ICUE to 64888 from a mobile phone on a United Kingdom network (other country networks will follow).
The first Mills & Boon novels will be available for download next month. M&B is expected to release 8 Modern Romance titles and 20 MIRA titles. The Modern Romances will cost L1.99 each while the MIRA novels will cost L4.99.
One of the most interesting things in The London Times article was a statement by the ICUE co-founder: "Teenagers prefer reading one word at a time, but most adults prefer the horizontal scrolling style." ICUE books can be read in four different ways: with autocue-style text moving from right to left, a scrollable text block moving up and down, single words in quick succession or a full page of text.
The world, it is a-changin'.