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Could the $100 Laptop Be the Book’s Future?

So posits Brad King at the Technology Review‘s blog after attending a recent, unnamed (but probably SXSW) panel on book publishing. There, he watched Internet Archive guru Brewster Kahle wildly swinging the $100 laptop – developed as part of the One Laptop Per Child initiative – above his head while discussing his organization’s ongoing project to digitize every book in the public domain (and beyond, if he and his people can convince book publishers that digitizing copyrighted books is a good idea). “We’re very privileged to have one of these,” Kahle said at the conference. “We’re a library for it, and all of our books will be available for anyone with this laptop.”

King’s conviction grew when the laptop was passed around the room and into his own hands. “The screen, made to be viewable in the sunlight, was flawless and clear. I was shocked at its clarity…The hardware interface wasn’t easy to negotiate, but that can be changed. The laptop was small enough that you could tote it around, sit down under a tree with it, and start reading. When you’re finished, you simply fold it up and carry it home.” In other words, King says, “I’m not suggesting that the $100 laptop will become the future e-book, but if they can build a technology designed for schoolbooks, the digital book’s popularity can’t be far behind.” It’s certainly something to look into, that’s for sure…

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