The Guardian Review on Saturday included a few paragraphs from the Bookseller on the inside back cover about the prospects for e-books, or an 'e-reading device'. Joel Rickett remembers the mistaken hopes for the CD-Rom in the '90s and suggests that publishers are now very cautious. There is no mention of Google or Google Books as such but news that Random House and Harper Collins are investing in digital versions of their titles. This may be to ensure the text can be found by search engines in a manner the publisher controls. Probably Joel Rickett reflects industry opinion in suggesting that although all publishers "are frantically planning for the tipping point when an e-reading device really takes off, predictions for the book's trade's 'iPod moment' range from two to five years."
In my view the process has already gone some way. Many people find text online that may or may not be regarded as a book equivalent. Last week I had a look at the new version of Acrobat from Adobe. Most of their presentation is about the benefits of Acrobat Connect for collaboration beyond the limits of the document. This conferencing suite used to be known as Breeze from Macromedia and is mostly based on Flash. Lots of video and animated Powerpoint etc. I am still in shock about this as I am used to editing text or adding comments to a fixed page. Maybe this is something I will get used to eventually but it is a point of departure for Acrobat as a PDF product. Over the last ten years or so PDF has represented on screen the layout of a printed page. Adobe seem to think we should be moving away from this. I will try to keep an open mind but the arrival of Acrobat 8 is for me a defining moment in realising what I liked about all the previous versions. Apparently the new version of a Reader will be in Flash but can accept PDF as an input. I have had a look at the beta. Maybe some people will prefer this. A small download if you already have Flash, but there is no way to copy out text to combine with something else. An engagement platform? I don't think so.
Have a look at this ad c/o YouTube
This strikes me as mostly an ad for Flash. The type is all over the place. With previous versions of Adobe there was often a White Paper or something similar in a PDF format. This sort of thing is now harder to find.
Enough on where Adobe might be going. The main point is that an 'iPod moment' for books has already happened.