"Critics are eating up everything about Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book reader except its $359 price tag. But if you think that's expensive, take a look behind the Kindle at E Ink, the Cambridge, MA, company that has spent $150 million since 1997 developing the electronic paper display that is the Kindle's coolest feature. In the company's first interview since the Kindle 2 came out, E Ink CEO Russ Wilcox says it took far longer than expected to make the microcapsule-based e-paper film not only legible, but durable and manufacturable. Now that the Kindle 2 is finally getting readers to take e-books seriously, however, Wilcox says he sees a profitable future in which many book, magazine, and newspaper publishers will turn to e-paper, if only to save money on printing and delivery. (Silicon Alley Insider recently calculated that the New York Times could save more than $300 million a year by shutting down its presses and buying every subscriber a Kindle). 'What we've got here is a technology that could be saving the world $80 billion a year,' Wilcox says."
The electronic paper revolution is coming very soon. The Kindle 2 is just the beginning. The next couple of generations of e-book readers will improve exponentially as they come out over the next several years. Pulp-based paper won't go away, but it will soon no longer be the primary medium by which news, entertainment, and other literature are conveyed.
The technology is here. It's just a matter of getting the engineering kinks worked out. And that won't take more than a few more years--especially since there's going to be such a big demand for these readers as print-based publications continue to fold because they are no longer able to fund themselves in this new information age.
From Jim Romenesko:
Hearst hopes its reader can do for periodicals what Amazon's Kindle is doing for books. "We are keenly interested in this, and expect these devices will be a big part of our future," says Kenneth Bronfin, who heads Hearst's interactive media group.