“A book, e-book, any book!” is the inclusive theme for this month’s New York Is Book Country, and in the spirit of platform promiscuity, e-reading appurtenances will be out in force. For the first time, according to NYIBC president Linda Exman, the fair will feature a New Technology Pavilion to give an expected 250,000 attendees a preview of the latest in digital publishing. Sponsored by RCA eBook, the “tech tent” will host encampments by Alibris, Audible, BookSense, iPublish, and Xlibris, while elsewhere at the fair exhibitors will include web ventures such as BookReporter.com and Zooba.com, the latter an Internet marketing shop that sends consumers personalized emails in any of 46 “content channels.”
Under the tech tent, RCA parent Thomson Multimedia will break out its new line of ebook devices, which it says are the first products introduced at retail with technology licensed from Gemstar. Two ebook models (the latest incarnations of the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook reader) will be on tap: one with a 5.5” monochrome screen and 8MB of memory (it holds about 20 novels), and a second with an 8.5” color screen and an Ethernet port. Both devices have internal modems for direct downloads, and the company says that “thousands” of titles will be available for the readers when they come on the market in October. Suggested retail prices will be announced at the fair.
Incidentally, earlier this year Gemstar and Thomson agreed to plug Gemstar’s electronic program guide into 30 million television products, and the two companies have also fired up a joint interactive venture known as @TV Media, which enables e-commerce via two-way wireless paging that lets you transmit to and from your TV. Gemstar chief Henry Yuen calls it “t-commerce,” and we can only expect to be reading ebooks on the telly and watching Survivor reruns on our reading devices. Actually, it may all be sooner than you think: the RCA ebook comes with Internet audio hardware, ready for action.
Meanwhile, NYIBC will host three e-related panel discussions: On Sept. 20 at 7 pm at Poet’s House, PW’s Calvin Reid and others will debate the impact of ebooks on independent literary publishing, while on Sept. 21 at 5:30 pm, the likes of Larry Kirshbaum and Lou Lenzi, vp at Thomson Multimedia, will ponder the imponderable question “To e or Not to e?” at the General Society Library. A blowout session on “The Future of the Book” follows on Sept. 22 at 5:30 pm at the NYU Center for Publishing. Of course, those events should be considered mere hors d’oeuvres before NYIBC grand marshal Emeril Lagasse’s culinary theatrics on the B&N stage on Sunday.
The 22nd New York Is Book Country takes place Sept. 20–24, with the street fair on Sunday, Sept. 24.