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Another call for the death of the printed word.
If you believe the hype, library stacks are quaking, paper manufacturers are white as their sheets and publishers are taking cover. Why? Because, according to internet visionaries, the book is dead.
Yes, the book, that hand-held paper and print creation we\'ve loved for around 1300 years, is going to become extinct. We won\'t stop reading or writing. It\'s just that, as Dick Brass, Microsoft\'s vice president of technology and development said, by 2020 \"90% of everything you read will be delivered in an electronic form\".
We\'ve been moving that way for a while. Anyone with access to the net can visit virtual bookstores and download virtual texts. You can even buy an \"eBook\", a portable, compact, device that can store several weeks\' worth of reading material at one time - enough surely for any beach or long-haul diversion.
Internet booksellers are leaping on this bandwagon. Barnesandnoble.com is selling NuvoMedia\'s Rocket eBook, which weighs 22 ounces and is about the size of a paperback. Along with it you can buy electronic editions of books or periodicals (encrypted in the Rocket Edition format). Memoirs of a Geisha, in ebook form, could be yours for only $11.20. And Barnesandnoble.com has recently announced plans for an e-bookstore that will sell thousands of texts using Microsoft Reader software.
But if you can\'t get hold of a Rocket eBook, or a similar device, there\'s nothing stop ping you from downloading books on to your home computer or handheld device. If the choice of ebooksellers seems baffling you can visit a wide range of elibraries instead and \"borrow\" books, often for free.