Are New Devices Breathing New Life into e-Books?

Broadway South

Although Arthur Andersen famously predicted a billion-dollar e-Book market would be here by now, 2007 was a big year for the e-Book faithful, with the launch of Amazon’s Kindle, the first experiments with delivery of digital books on revolutionary new mobile devices like the iPhone and the $100-laptop (commonly referred to as the XO), and the formalization of a standard e-Book file format (known as ePub). This panel discussion, moderated by Newsweek’s Steven Levy, will take a fresh look at the state of e-Book from the perspective of some of its most astute – and opinionated – observers.

Photo of Tonya Engst

Tonya Engst

TidBITS Publishing Inc.

Tonya Engst is co-founder of the Take Control series of electronic books, which began in 2003 in order to deliver up-to-date technical content to readers. She currently serves as editor in chief for the series, which continues to innovate in creating, selling, and updating ebooks. Tonya is also known for co-founding and working as Senior Editor for TidBITS, an a Web site and email newsletter about all things Macintosh that has published on a consistent weekly schedule since 1990. Tonya is also a member of the MacNotables podcasting group.

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Ben Vershbow

New York Public Library

Ben Vershbow is currently editorial director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, a small New York/London-based think tank dedicated to exploring the future of reading, writing and publishing in the digital age. He has overseen a wide range of publishing experiments at the Institute investigating new methods for developing, disseminating and building community around books on the Web with authors such as Mitchell Stephens, McKenzie Wark, Lewis Lapham and Siva Vaidhyanathan. Ben also writes frequently for the Institute’s popular “if:book” blog, as well as for a variety of mainstream publications. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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Mike Shatzkin

The Idea Logical Company

Mike Shatzkin is Founder & CEO of The Idea Logical Company. In his more than 40 years in publishing, he has played almost all the roles: bookstore clerk, author, agent, production director, sales and marketing director, and, for the past 30 years, consultant. His client list has included most of the major publishers in the United States and many outside the US, as well as a variety of publisher suppliers and trading partners, particularly in the new technology area.

Since co-organizing the first “Electronic Publishing and Rights” Conference sponsored by PW in the early 1990s, Mike has been speaking and writing about digital change. He was co-chair of VISTA’s “Publishing in the 21st Century” Program, producing White Papers and conferences on the impact of technology on publishers throughout the 1990s. He also organized Frankfurt’s “Big Questions” conference in 2001 and last year’s research – again resulting in a White Paper and conferences in New York and London – on “Digital Asset Distribution” sponsored by Klopotek.

This year, Mike is spearheading a similar effort with the Book Industry Study Group, looking at the extent of experimentation and innovation in publishing.

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David Rothman

I write the E-Book Report blog for Publishers Weekly and am editor-publisher of I’m also author of The Silicon Jungle (Ballantine), The Complete Laptop Computer Guide (St. Martin’s), and four other books.

Among my interests are e-libraries, e-book devices and related hardware such as OLPC’s sharp-screened XO-1, copyright, business models for E, digital divide issues, the DRM debate, and format standards. I consider both traditional DRM and the Tower of eBabel, as I’ve dubbed it, to be lit- and sales-toxins in most cases. One possible DRM-related compromise might be social DRM.

I’ve been writing about e-books since the early 1990s and am the author of the TeleRead chapter of Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier (MIT/ASIS), where I call for a well-stocked national digital library system carefully integrated with schools and libraries—-and the popularization of book-friendly hardware. TeleRead-related articles have also appeared in the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report , among other places.

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Steven Levy


Covering the digital revolution since 1982. Currently chief technology writer for Newsweek. Author of six books including Hackers, Artificial Life, Crypto, and The Perfect Thing.

Photo of Garth Conboy

Garth Conboy

eBook Technologies, Inc.

Garth Conboy is a founding member of the IDPF, and currently serves as the Chairman of the IDPF Board of Directors. He has chaired or vice-chaired the numerous technical working groups that have developed and evolved the EPUB standard since its inception.

Garth is co-founder and President of eBook Technologies, Incorporated (ETI). The ETI team played significant roles in pioneering the eBook market, releasing the first commercial eBooks in 1998 and they continue to drive innovation in electronic book systems. ETI provides and licenses a leading end-to-end electronic book platform offering a full range of eBook products and services. The company possesses deep industry knowledge and the end-to-end technology components to support both enterprise and consumer eBook publishing: content acquisition, conversion, wholesaling, retailing, DRM, distribution, and reading.

Prior to co-founding ETI, Garth served as the General Manager and Vice President of Software Engineering for the Gemstar eBook Group. In these positions he was responsible for the operation of the division: platform and server engineering, quality assurance, content acquisition, content operations, content engineering, and customer support.

Garth is inventor or co-inventor of numerous eBook-related patents; technologies include: cryptography and secure content distribution, eBook UI, resource/database dynamic conversion for cross-platform applications, and optimal paginated document presentation. Prior to its acquisition by Gemstar in 2000, Garth held the position of Vice President of Software Engineering at SoftBook Press leading the platform, content tools, and content engineering teams.

Prior to the eBook effort, Garth founded Pacer Software in 1980 and served as its CEO guiding it to a successful acquisition in 1995.


Exclusive Diamond Sponsor

  • Ingram Industries

Platinum Sponsor

  • Cold Fusion Entertainment

Gold Sponsor

  • Copyright Clearance Center

Silver Sponsors

  • Accenture
  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Antenna House
  • Appingo
  • Bookbank
  • codeMantra
  • Connotate
  • HCL Technologies
  • Innodata Isogen, Inc.
  • itechne
  • LibreDigital
  • Lulu
  • Malloy
  • Mark Logic
  • Media Services Group
  • Microsoft Live Search Books
  • Near-Time
  • Qoop
  • RSuite
  • Value Chain International

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  • Publishers Weekly

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