Roughly every four years the book publishing industry goes through a bout of wide-eyed enthusiasm for portable ebook readers. The periodicity tends to fall in with the World Cup cycle (not the Olympic cycle — that is when book publishers espouse enthusiasm for printing on demand, or remote jukebox style devices that will print and bind any book for $15), so this year just after the Frankfurt book fair we have another bout of ebook enthusiasm.
Paid Content have blogged a summary of early reactions. The Sony Reader may or may not catch on for the world’s great literature, but we can be sure that it will not, in its current form, catch on for magazines. The device is apparently very good at giving a crisp image in black and white, viewable from almost any angle, with sharp text ideal for reading in sunlight or in the bath. That is not enough for magazines. Magazines absolutely require colour. Colour, colour, colour and again colour. For that reason alone the magazine industry will not be disturbed by this wave of publisher enthusiasm for ebook readers. In 2010? Who knows, by then the clever technology may be supporting coloured balls.