Twilight Times Feature

E-books At The Airport?

Dorothy Thompson


It is raining cats, dogs, and maybe an elephant or two, and your plane is due to take off from the runway in an hour. You battle the elements, nearly risking your life, arrive five minutes before take-off, when you are confronted by the friendly reservation clerk shaking her head.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Thompson, but there is a five-hour delay.  It is much too risky for any of our planes to take off in this inclement weather.  I'm sure it is in your best interest to take a seat and wait until it clears.  When the weather lets up, we will let you know."

"When the weather lets up?" you say.  You want to choke the friendly reservation clerk for being so cheerful.  You panic.  This could be hours, days, months!  This is monsoon season!

The kind reservation desk clerk sympathizes.  After all, she’s in there for the long haul, also.

"Why don't you try our latest e-book selection from Stephen King?" she asks me.

She guides me to an e-book vending machine that holds all the latest e-books from Stephen King to Winnie-the-Pooh.  Ah…so many selections, you take two.  You whip out your hand-held e-book reading device, insert one of the discs, and breathe a sigh a relief.

You settle back and read the hours away.

No, this isn't a scene from Futuristic Americana. This is real life and will be happening in airports all over the world.

E-books and Hand-held Reading Devices

It is the beginning of a whole new age for literature.  E-books are becoming more and more accepted as a means of reading the latest novels, self-help books, and even children’s books.  With the age of technology fast upon us, hand-held devices such as the Palm Pilot®  are making their way into the everyday household.  No more carrying heavy books around. Just pop your Palm Pilot, or other hand-held reading device into your pocketbook, briefcase, or knap-sack, and go to the beach, the gym, or even the dentist and enjoy the e-book experience.

Besides being eco-friendly (no trees are destroyed), the Palm Pilot is flexible, thus allowing you to take it anywhere.  Even though they have small screens, which may not suit everyone, they are unbeatable on price.  Their multitude of uses includes a contact book, memo pad, and even a journal.

One of the newer pocket readers that have come out on the market today is the REB 1200.  This innovative e-reader touts a full-color reading screen with two built-in modem ports – one for a standard phone line and one for a broadband connection so you can get your e-books loaded in seconds.   Another feature of the REB 1200 is the addition of a backlit screen enabling you to read in the dark and not disturb your sleeping mate.  This model is higher than the Palm Pilot, but certainly worth the investment.

E-book Vending Machines

Australia has been the first country to jump on the e-book bandwagon with their e-book vending machines debuting in airports.  W.H. Smith has tested these machines there with great success.  Because of the positive feedback from airport patrons there in Australia, he will soon be installing “Zoom Systems e-Book Stores” throughout the country.  These machines can house up to 25 fiction and nonfiction bestseller titles, and can be purchased directly from the machine.  What makes these machines so unique and customer-friendly is the fact that they allow visitors to pay at the machine instead of entering the store, allowing travelers to buy e-books at any hour of the day.  The merchandising, sales representation, and inventory are all handled from the desktop via the internet.

 This is fantastic news for the e-book industry, a novel idea that is catching on by the storm.  I can assure you traditional print books are here to stay, but the e-book generation is about to take over in your household, in schools, and even at your local airports.  The computer age goes one step forward with the advent of the e-book and its’ reading devices. Although the price of the Palm Pilot, for instance, is out of some of today’s household budgets, it is expected to drop in a few years to allow even the most frugal consumer to be able to read an e-book anytime, anywhere.

POD Vending Machines, too?

 The e-book industry is not the only one to come up with this idea of being able to provide the consumer with instant books. The POD industry has jumped on the “instant book” vending machine bandwagon along, also, by introducing its’ first POD book ever to emerge from a fully automated vending machine.  On July 9, 2001, Jeff Marsh of Marsh Technologies and Peter Zelchenko of Volume One from Chesterfield, Missouri, had the first POD book to slide out of a chute on their prototype MTI Perfect Book-080 in Marsh’s office.  They predict their ATM-like POD machines will be in a variety of stores in the near future.  The price of each one of these machines?  A whopping $100,000.  Even at this steep price, the makers believe it will be beneficial to the book industry as it will solve their inventory storage and low-volume title preservation problems that have plagued them for years.


So what does this mean for the “average joe” consumer?  No more waiting in lines at a busy book-store, the availability of buying their favorite books, any time of the day or night, and no more sitting around a crowded airport for nothing to keep you occupied but month-old periodicals.

So as the rain is pouring down outside in buckets and you are deeply engrossed in the latest Danielle Steele e-book, think of your poor, unfortunate ancestors as they waited for the next wagon train to come along with nothing but a crumpled, soggy newspaper to whittle away the hours.


Author Bio

Dorothy Thompson is a freelance writer and children’s eBook author from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Her children’s eBook, No More Gooseberry Pie!, was published by Writers-Exchange E-Publishing in August 2001.

She has been honored with being inducted into the Children’s eBook Hall of Fame.  She is also editor of four writing sites, The Writer’s Life, WordsOnAWire,
The Write Woman, SoulMateMystique, and NewAmericanVoices.

She writes many how-to articles on the subject of writing, promotion, and getting published.  Presently, she has two more children’s books, a spiritual/paranormal/ romance novel and an anthology of true soul mate stories pending publication.



"E-books At The Airport?" Copyright © 2002 Dorothy Thompson. All rights reserved. First published in the May issue of the eBooks Ecstasy newsletter.
Re-printed by permission of the author.


This page last updated 07-18-02.


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