Electronic book distribution will get a real rocket start if an Electronic Book Consortium?s masterplan hits the skies.
The consortium, which numbers Hitachi, Sharp, Canon, Fujitsu and NEC as members together with Japanese bookstores and publishers, plans to build a satellite-based ebook distribution initiative.
The envisaged system would be made up of a chain of content-transmission centres, satellites, receiving terminals and portable ebook reading devices. Digital content provided by publishers would be transmitted via groundstations to satellites, which would beam the ebook data received to terminals in bookstores or direct into home PCs.
Content would be purchased via credit card and downloaded into a removable ?unit? that could be snapped onto the ebook reading unit.
The consortium is now looking at designs and specifications for an ebook reader, which will be around the same weight and size as a regular paperback book. The difference is that one unit can hold around 12 novels at a time, making it an ideal holiday or travel companion.
The consortium said it plans to carry out a trial service in Japan next year. If it is successful a service could go live before the millennium.
Other major electronics companies listed as consortium members are IBM, Japan Satellite Systems, JVC, Matsushita, Microsoft, Minolta, Ricoh, Seiko Instruments, Sony, and Space Communications.
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