Amazon’s Kindle is getting a lot of well-deserved press, even if it’s a first-generation device I’m unlikely to buy. (The short version: too low-res, too bulky, no PDF support.)
Of course, it goes without saying that the future e-Book would be far lighter than the present version, with longer battery life, and more flexible. What does it look like, when it’s finally light enough, and cheap enough?
Google could mint them by the millions, with Google AdWords embedded in the margins of every page, and could mail them out to people, like AOL floppy disks, or hand them out in Las Vegas like pornographic come-ons for strip clubs and escort services. They’d be free to use, free to connect to the Internet, and self-funding, so long as the AdWords revenue holds out.
You’d have all your books stored online, like WebMail, with some sort of token-based instant login, so you wouldn’t bother to take it with you if you were done. Instead, you might leave it on a bus stop bench, or in a cafe. Someone might want to check e-mail, or read a book, and pick it up, then put it down somewhere else again. And all the time, the ads roll by…