Via Roger Simon is a report from Gizmodo of an electronic book by Sony. The device has its problems (the biggest one being that it only supports restricted content) but I think it’s really neat that electronic paper is finally becoming commercially viable. I think that we’re more likely to see “book on demand” before we see “video on demand”. Even if the electronic version isn’t quite a physcially nice as the paper version, imagine have one “book” that can turn in to any book in your library (or the Library of Congress) on demand. That would be sweet.
Or consider the possibility of an “author’s cut” of a book. One of the things we saw emerge from DVDs was alternatively arrangements of the raw film material, additional commentary, review comments, etc. Suppose you could do that with a book, where with the click of a button you could switch between an edited for the general public version vs. the full blow author’s version vs. a reviewed / annotated version. What would that do for students studying literature? One could also put in cross-references to previous works in the same ficton to make reading the nth book in a series easier. This is a new technology I’ve been waiting for for a long time.