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Full text of Dan Snow's comments
about electronic publishing

As excerpted on NPR's "Weekend Edition,"
June 3, 2000:

"As an early participant in the 'Open eBook Initiative,' I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of leading publishing concerns at the headquarters of R.R. Donnelley & Sons in Chicago, early in 1999. The discussion was heady stuff -- nothing less than the future of books. At one point, a direct descendant of the venerable R.R. Donnelley himself directed my attention to a panel that slid from the wall, displaying a page from the Gutenberg Bible. The juxtaposition was striking.

"As noted ... in your broadcast, these new technologies are still in their infancy, especially in terms of copyright protection. In addition, they are not yet in widespread use by the general public.

"Adobe Systems offers special software products named 'Web Buy' and 'PDF Merchant' designed for the secure sale of content from the Internet. Microsoft and Xerox have recently announced the formation of ContentGuard Inc., which promises to allow a document's author, publisher, distributor or seller to secure it against piracy, track its movements, and require users to pay before using it. However, as noted in your interview, Stephen King's electronic novella Riding the Bullet survived less than 48 hours, before pirated copies started to surface on the Internet. According to The New York Times, the May 23 announcement about the release of Michael Crichton's thriller Timeline and other titles for the Pocket PC was made 'even if it is not clear yet how protected the electronic titles are from hackers.'

"In 1999, the first generation of hardware devices specifically designed for reading electronic books (the Rocket eBook, SoftBook, GlassBook, etc.) became available to public. At present, however, compared to millions and millions of desktop and laptop computers, the number of dedicated eBook reading devices in use is extremely limited. The new Pocket PC with Microsoft Reader holds the promise of bringing eBooks more squarely into mainstream markets -- but again, it will take time before the number of Pocket PCs even begins to approach the ubiquity of the desktop or laptop computer.

"Why, then, are major publishers jumping on the eBook bandwagon?

"The answer is simple: the economic advantages of e-publishing are so compelling that the New York houses can no longer ignore them.

"By drastically reducing the physical expenses and economic risks that have traditionally been borne by publishers, electronic distribution will change the entire dynamic of what 'publishing' means in the new millennium.

"Eliminating waste and slashing production costs will change the publisher's focus from 'playing it safe' with commercial material, to a new era of innovation and creativity that benefits readers and writers alike.

"No one knows exactly what the future holds, but it seems certain that e-publishing is here to stay -- and that it will dramatically alter the way writers and publishers reach readers in the 21st century."

-- Danny O. Snow


Click HERE for a sound byte from NPR.
(Requires the RealAudio Player)

Click HERE for other media reportage in which Snow has been quoted.


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