OhmyNews have published my report on the London Book Fair.
This concentrates on Google Book Search and the benefits for the back list titles that are only available in small quantities. I wrote a bit about e-books. There was almost no publicity for them on the main stands. There was an 'e-content pavilion', aimed at academic libraries. Apparently many journals are now online and one of the meetings suggested that publishers would try to switch all journal publishing online so that the costs of print publishing can be avoided. So why is it that e-books for a general public were nowhere to be seen? ( Some Taylor and Francis titles are available for individuals but I don't think anyone other than specialists would have found the stand. Like Elsevier and Wiley there was one main stand for books and a more or less hidden bit for 'e-content'.
there is already one comment on my OhmyNews story, pointing out that there are a lot of free documents in PDF format downloaded on the web, including classic texts that are out of copyright. I could have written more about this but it would have been speculation. My guess is that the acceptance for e-books has progressed significantly though publishers are still not prepared to take a risk in promotion or else would prefer to think that books will continue as they are used to. It seems odd that library journals have developed in a different way.
I did mention a statement by Alberto Vitale, interviewed in the Publishing News Daily. He was described as "the driving force behind the now-forgotten Frankfurt e-book awards" and has recently studied Chinese policy on developing e-books rather than building libraries. He said "I think Western publishers need to have a broad vision, not a 'Gutenburg' vision." The e-book awards ran between 2000 and 2002, roughly the period that the dot com crash worked through to publisher attention. Bear in mind that to develop an argument to book length takes a number of years. The actual internet has continued to develop and there may be another promotional chance for e-books coming up soon. The file sizes are not a problem, compared to sound files or video. Mobile screens may get more available, such as the Sony Reader. Maybe e-books will arrive at the London Book Fair by surprise one day.