Tuesday, August 17, 2010


In the late 1990s, I was fortunate to have attended a series of annual technology conferences sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The theme and focus of the conferences was the eBook technology.

Among the attendees were executives of Microsoft, Palm, Sony, Gemstar which owned the Rocketbook, Franklin Electronic Publishers, the Mobipocket Company, and many others in the publishing and electronic business, and of course, selected U.S. Government officials.

I had the opportunity to listen, discuss and meet the pioneers of what is now called the “eBook” industry. Among them were the Presidents of Franklin Electronic Publishers (FEB) and the Mobipocket Company. The former produced and distributed the eBookMan which was a combination of eBook Reader, Audio Player, MP3 Player, Organizer, Voice Recorder and other features. The latter developed the Mobipocket reader which eventually became the standard for most if not all handheld devices. Franklin partly owned Mobipocket. Predicting that the technology would play a significant role in the future, I negotiated with both executives and got my company to become a licensed manufacturer of the eBookMan and the exclusive distributor of the device in the Philippines. We also got to create and develop contents for the Franklin devices. Among our noted contents were the electronic medical libraries and law libraries. We promoted them as “libraries in your pocket, knowledge at your finger tips.” In the case of the electronic law libraries, we put into the handheld devices which also included Palm, and Pocket PCs, all the Philippine laws, and Supreme Court decisions since 1901. We promoted it as, “Take the Law into your hands”. We also bundled the libraries with an encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, a Holy Bible or Koran and some selected novels.

The attached video link http://www.motionbox.com/videos/a09ed8b31b28 was a TV commercial featuring Tanya Maynigo Loucks as model and was produced in a garage with the assistance of Homer Maynigo Rabara and Traci Manglapus Maynigo.

A few years later, Amazon.com which earlier started selling printed books online, bought the Mobipocket company together with its eBook technology. This allowed them to produce and distribute what is now called Kindle. This also meant that all the eBooks that we created are now readable and downloadable into the Kindle as well as all the handheld devices including the iPhone, iPod, Nokia, and others.

As these new devices are being manufactured with eBook readers built in to them, hundreds of thousands of eBooks are being made available for download. A few months ago, Apple launched the IPAD tablet which features its own eBook reader with the goal of competing against Amazon’s Kindle. There are now plans by Google to have its own equivalent tablet to go with the eBook reading capacity of its Android. The Sony eReader and the Barnes and Noble eReader are not far behind.

Meanwhile, publishers and authors now rely on their eBook formats as a major revenue center for purposes of their sales and marketing strategies. As proof of success, the experience of Best-Selling author Stephen King is always mentioned. The first eBook that King put online sold over 400,000 copies worldwide in 48 hours.

Indeed, eBooks have arrived!

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