back to article Penguin goes electronic

Pearson, the publishing company that owns Penguin books, will be releasing e-book versions of all Penguin, Dorling Kindersley, and Travel titles from September this year. The launch range of e-books will include Penguin's back catalogue of 5,000 titles, which is already being digitised. The e-book versions will cost the same …


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  1. Stuart Van Onselen


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the DRM landscape for ebooks even more fragmented and immature than the one for music? I see readers having to pack three or four different readers in their backpacks, 'cos each publisher is publishing via only one of the three or more "standards".

    (Don't even get me started on the music DRM scene - How can *one* company have *two* incompatible systems, and still ask to be taken seriously? Fortunately, no-one bought the "Zune". :-)

  2. davefb

    how much?

    so , basically , for the price of the US book (18$ in amazon US ), we can get a digital 'copy' that we can't lend to people , doesn't look great on a shelf etc.

    wake me up when we have a more realistic price.

  3. Jamie
    Paris Hilton


    Main reason this has not taken off yet is the idea that readers are usually the size of a pda which can be hard on the eyes. This added with the fact that most are of such bad quality that they don't survive more than a couple of months to a year. Then take into account yeah you could use your desktop or laptop, well what is the point of an e-Book as it is no longer saving spave.

    Plus I like to have books on my shelf, it makes it appear to visitors that I can read.

    The icon, Paris with glasses, com'on we all know she only reads picture books.

  4. Hollerith

    What's more eco-friendly?

    More 'green': the paperback book which, once manufactured, can last a hundred years (I have a paperbound book printed 1919), needs no further electrical input or holding device, or a digital book, for which I have to buy a reader, which has many rare and toxic chemicals in it, and which needs constant recharging, and which will eventually be obsolete and need replacing with a new device?

    There is a reason the Moog synth didn't replace the orchestra, though it has a minor role elsewhere. There's a reason the digital book will follow the same path.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    No imagination.

    Maybe one day they'll embed Flash & WiFi in the book spine, so the user can choose which way to read the book - traditional or electronic (with added features like text search, bookmarks, electronic margin notes, etc...).

    With a built in wireless "dongle" (remember those?), you should be able to lend the book to a fiend without breaking DRM.

    Personally I prefer it the old fashioned way, but some here may prefer to drop their dongle on a table next to their laptop .

  6. Ioda

    True cost?

    "printing a 60 page document will generate 328.8g of carbon, while reading the same document on a device reduces that to .25g. So electronic books should be more environmentally sound"

    Is the amount of carbon released in manufacturing, and the generation of electricity required to power devices that one might use to read an electronic book, included in the .25g value?

  7. JimC

    > the Moog synth didn't replace the orchestra

    To a considerable extent outside the classical music arena it did. You here vast amounts of partially synthesised or sampled music on the television every day for instance. In no way has the technology a minor role.

  8. Douglas McKenzie

    cheaper ebooks

    BAEN books in the US sell their monthly science fiction books (all of them) for $20. No DRM and most ebook formats are supported.

    They are now the only ebook company I use.

  9. Adam
    Jobs Horns


    It's only a matter of time before apple cotton on to this and corner the maket with books available to download via itunes.

  10. Tim Bergel

    @No Imagination

    "lend the book to a fiend without breaking DRM"

    positively demonic ...

    Mines the coat soaked in holy water

  11. Alan


    Someone tell me why Penguin think they can sell an eBook at the same price as a printed equivalent.

    The eBook cannot be passed on, but the real book can be given, or sold on, once your kids have grown out of it.

    Yet another corporation who need a good going over with a clue bat...

  12. John Mangan

    The physical artifact

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that eschews e-books because of the lack of a physical item. I have been waiting for someone to create a low-power, robust, high-quality reader with some type of memory slot. Then you buy your books on a cartridge a la Gameboys, PSPs, etc. and plug in whatever you want to read. Each book can be fully protected by DRM and I don't need an extra suitcase and a subscription to the local gym for my holiday reading material.

    You can have a shelf of your favourite titles, which you can display, lend, re-sell, etc. just like a book and not have to worry about wired/wireless internet access, space left on your reader, accidental erasure, etc.

    I know, I know! I'll just keep buying books . . .

  13. Paul Durrant

    eBook price

    Pricing eBooks the same as paper books is insane. I won't pay the same for data as I will for atoms. Mainly because I can always sell on a paper book, but I'm sure they won't want me selling on the electronic version.

    Oh - and Baen DONT charge $20 for all their books published each month.

    They charge $15. Yes, $15 for eBooks versions (with no DRM) of two newly released hardbacks, two newly released paperbacks, and usually a couple from their back catalogue. Total retail price of the paper versions of the books is over $75.

    Now that's the way to do eBooks.

  14. Karl

    Paperbook is greener

    If you want to save the planet, build a library with wooden bookshelves, as that's a good carbon sink. Around 2/5 of the weight of a book is carbon, after all, and by buying and keeping books you sequester a considerable amount.

  15. Andy Hards
    Thumb Down

    Isn't this what the writers strike was all about in the US?

    I thought they'd resolved this. All to do with percentages. It costs so much to print, so much for paper some to the retailers etc but jack diddley nothing (almost) to put on a screen so why would I pay the same as for a book that I can hold in my hand?

  16. RW
    Gates Halo

    Usage and Abusage (with apologies to Eric Partridge)

    Those who "happily turn down the corner of the page as they chuck a paperback into their satchel" also tend to read while lounging indulgently in a bathtub full of bubblebath, into which said paperbacks are accidentally immersed from time to time.

    E-books in the bathtub? I think not. <blows bubble>

    The Gates icon because he (a) probably can't read and (b) needs to spend more time in the bathtub.

  17. Sabahattin Gucukoglu

    Hmm. I wonder ...

    Is there any hope that this will open up more reading possibilities to print-challenged individuals? We can only hope, although given the currently abhorent state of ebook DRM mechanisms out there, most of which rely on security through obscurity anyway, I'm given to be pesimistic. Still, the cost probably isn't quite such an issue if it's your only option, although I agree that selling both print and electronic versions at the same price is something of an insult.



  18. Peter Gray

    Baen are smart

    Baen books also include a CD-Rom with some of their hardbacks. This usually contains the full versions of the existing back catalogue in the same series (ie the Honor Harrington novels) as well as a handful of similar books by different authors they publish. On the coverslip is a message saying you may copy the CD and hand it around as much as you want (as long as you do not charge for dosing so) and a warning that the publisher is confident that people who like the stories are likely to buy them, as well as other books by the same authors, so is making the CD free as a sneaky way of promoting this.

    And they're right - I have about a dozen shelves of Baen books, half of them hardbacks, that I have purchased because I read an e-book and liked it, so I bought it, and the back catalogue associated with it. I still read my e-books though, I usually have a couple of dozen different ones on my Palm, so if I'm on the train and I'm not in the mood for the dead tree book I am carrying I can try a new book, or re-read a favourite.

  19. VampyreWolf

    project gutenberg

    thousands of books, all free... just download the dvd collections, burn to a disk and grab the few you want to read.

    I've got a few thousand bucks in my personal library and continue to add to it. I'll have 2-3 books in my bag at any given time, as well as digital copies of a couple dozen on an sdhc card. Given the choice on a book I'll take the physical copy where I can toss a handful of bookmarks in, or even *gasp* highlight a section.

    what needs to be done is what Sam's does for the reference books. They toss em online and include the link and code for that book inside, So not only do you have your physical copy, but you can save a digital one as well.

  20. Julian

    Fantastic News (I hope)

    Let me chime in here as possibly one of the biggest fans of ebooks ever. I am the total opposite of some posters here; once I discovered the convenience of ebooks about 8 years ago (on a Palm V) I now only read ebooks and am happy to pay the same price as a physical product just for the convenience, in fact if it supported the industry and made more major titles available in the format I wanted then I would even pay a premium for an ebook vs the physical product.

    I now read my ebooks on my Windows Mobile smartphone (an HTC Touch Cruise) and the convenience of having your entire library in your pocket and always having a book with you if the train is late or even just if you catch a heavy shower and want to wait in a doorway for 10 minutes for it to pass is something that only an ebook gives you. I have no issues whatsoever in reading literature on my phone's 2.8" screen.

    I do agree 100% with the first comment from Stuart though, DRM is a (the) huge issue. It's like the (mercifully now finished) HD vs Blu Ray format wars but far worse because there are more competing formats (eReader, Mobipocket, Microsoft and Secure PDF to name just a few). The format or formats that Penguin chooses will be hugely significant because it will be the ebook equivalent of one of the major movie studios choosing a high-def DVD format and we all saw how that finally resolved the DVD format war.

    Even if Penguin choose some format other than the one I use (eReader) then I will at least take some comfort in the hope that whatever choice they make will help consolidate the market.

    Message to TheRegister - please keep an eye on this story, I'm anxious to hear Penguin's decision on format or formats as soon as it is made.

    - Julian

  21. michael


    what I want to see is conletions of audio books I can not read or spell very well but I love listing to books

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