I Have Read the Future

Culture and technology.
May 8 1999 4:52 AM

I Have Read the Future

At dinner. In a taxi. On the john. With my electronic book.

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E-books are going to evolve. They will get lighter, their screens will get more legible, and their batteries will last longer. Soon, they may do what a related device called the Audible can do, and actually read to you, either via sound files or text-to-voice software. E-books may converge with other handheld devices. You can use the newest palm-sized organizers as talking books or readers--though you wouldn't want to read a novel on one, at least not yet. Most important, e-books will get cheaper. They may even be given away, or sold at a token price with content purchase agreements or subscriptions, on the model of cell phones. But I have no doubt that they're coming. And when they truly arrive, I predict that the Rocket will be remembered as a landmark: The first demonstration that reading a "book" didn't require paper, ink, or even an overhead light.

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