CyberbooksSci-fi novelist Ben Bova, whose 1989 novel Cyberbooks predicted electronic books, weighs in on real life e-books in his article in the Naples News today.

Bova says: “Sony has just announced a new ‘Sony Reader’ that they’ve developed in league with E Ink, a technology firm in Cambridge, Mass. It is the size and heft of a paperback book, and its screen is bright, clear, and high-definition.” Bova goes on:

It sounds exactly like my Cyberbook. And a good thing, too.

One of the reasons I’m in favor of true electronic book publishing is that electronic books should become very inexpensive. For years, I’ve watched the price of books rise almost out of sight, as costs of paper and ink escalate steadily.

Electrons are cheaper. At least seventy-five percent of a publisher’s costs arise from schlepping tons of paper from paper mills to printing presses to distributors’ warehouses to bookstores. Moving electrons instead of paper should bring down the price of books to the point where anyone can afford them.

I look forward to that day.

I’m always happy when a well-known author praises e-books, and now I hope that Bova will go on to consider such issues as the DRM mess and the Tower of eBabel. Maybe he can even write a sequel where all the world’s knowledge is lost due to complications archivist-hostile DRM and ephemeral, proprietary formats.

Related: Amos Bokros’ TeleBlog review of Cyberbooks.


  1. the COSTS include shipping [read as fuel], storage, [read as overhead=fuel], and yes, even the cost of the petro based ink has gone up. The amount of ink used in a full production run is substantial. There is also the problem of only about every third book making money in any real sense so the costs are spread to the TV genre snap ’em’ up idiots.

  2. The problem is that current publishers of eBooks frequently grossly overprice their books.

    An example was on MobileRead:
    “ only has 1 book by Terry Pratchett (there are about 30 different books to date) and it is priced at 19$. has the Hardcovedr of the same book for about 15$…new…not used or anything fishy…so it is not really a good deal.”

    There is no excuse – none whatsoever – for an eBook to even be CLOSE to the price of a paper book. Especially when it has DRM on it.

    Pricing like this tells me that either:
    1. someone is trying to fleece the buyers of eBooks
    2. the publishers are trying hard to make eBooks fail.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail