In Frankfurt no Sony Reader only old fashioned books
October 8, 2006
Frankfurt book fair is huge. I walked relentlessly for almost 6 hours and I could not cover all of it. I was overwhelmed with so much to see. Talk about overload. Tons of new titles in several languages. A especial pavilion about India, its languages and most famous writers. Books for kids, books for gourmets, for travellers, for scientists. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately the book fair is (still) pretty much focused only on… you guessed, books. This is of course a book fair so it could not be different, but I was expecting maybe some brand new electronics related to the market as well. Like the Sony Reader I read about last week, which finally makes use of Electronic Ink technology by a start-up from former MIT researchers/PhD Students that has been around since 1997 (!). I was disappointed not to see anything like that in the fair. Truth is Sony has chosen the U.S. market only for product initial release, so I think I will have to wait for a while.
Apart from that, the truly disruptive technology wannabe company in the show was Lulu.com from the United States. They gave an impressive talk about their business model and how they are going to change the publishing business world wide (yeah, sure). No I did not buy that they are going to be the Google of publishing, but I am sure they can make money publishing unknown authors targeted to small niche markets, it is like the long tail stuff, a meme that has been around these days. But they are not the only ones around and they haven´t really developed anything remarkable (like E Ink technology for example).
So All in all, the fair was somewhat tiresome and without much interest for the big public. However I bet it is a real trade happening for all the publishing business people. Not my case.