Since the introduction of the rocket e‐book several years ago, e‐books have promised to revolutionize the way we read. Corporate giants Microsoft and Adobe Systems have developed sophisticated e‐book reader software that enhances the electronic reading experience. Hardware manufacturers such as Gemstar, Franklin, and Cytale continue to produce new reading devices. Yet despite the numerous advantages offered by various e‐book readers and despite the widespread popularity of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and pocket PCs capable of reading electronic books, the e‐book market has thus far failed to materialize. Aside from institutional purchases of netLibrary titles, sales figures for e‐books have been disappointing, due in large part to digital rights management barriers that have adversely affected available content. Publishers, fearing Napster‐like piracy of digital content, seem reluctant to develop a viable e‐book business model whose success could undermine the traditional, paper‐based publishing industry.
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