Yes folks, DA has finally launched their ebook website - www.readwithoutpaper.com - partnering with OverDrive in the US. I was already aware OverDrive had approached Australian publishers for content but there's only a handful who are in a position to provide at present - but it's a-changing world as we know.
I've gone into the Read Without Paper site to assess their offer and structure. Lots of foreign language, PDFs and audio downloads. I just want to see the EPUB titles available. (PDFs are crap to read on the Sony e-reader.) And I really don't want to see all the foreign language materials. There should be a view you select up front so you can see the titles that are relevant to you.
In many ways I'm disappointed this isn't a uniquely Australian venture and wonder how local publishers feel about overseas original publications being sold now as ebooks. Yes that might sound hypocritical as I've been getting my ebook content elsewhere but I genuinely want to see a truly local offer - even if it is through someone like DA! :)
Some major publishers here have told me they don't believe there is an ebook market. Some of these discussions have taken place in the last six months so I'm not talking about two or three years ago. We are talking major trade houses here and while the e-readers aren't yet taking off in this market, the day will come where people want more choice and read on whatever device takes their fancy. Many people are waiting for that rumoured iTablet from Apple. That's if they aren't already reading on their iPhone or some other device.
Don't get me wrong - I'm all for the book. The old fashioned one that is. But I read on an e-reader as well. All fiction titles. I pick them up cheaply or free from Gutenberg. I'm more than happy to pay US 9.99 through Sony for a latest release in certain genres but I'm still buying most books in the traditional format. I like to collect and I like to share. There's something personal about the book and flicking through the pages, dog-eared and all.
But back to the Australian ebook market where rumours and confusion reign supreme. Start-up companies are approaching publishers left right and centre. All after the ebook dollar. I feel a little sorry for the local publishers that are only now looking at their digital strategies, having left them to US and UK head offices.
Read Without Paper is a start but I wish it was a truly Australian venture. Will I order ebooks through them? So far, they haven't got anything that I want but I will keep you posted on anything I order through them and how the process goes.