BeBook 2, Kindle compromise and Hearst plans eCosmo

It's all go in the world of ebooks: there's a new wireless BeBook, Amazon has caved in to the American Authors' Guild, and magazine powerhouse Hearst is looking to make its own reader

Much is afoot in the world of electronic book readers, with Endless Ideas launching the BeBook 2, Hearst planning an electronic magazine reader, and the American Author's Guild generating headlines for all the wrong reasons.

We thought the original BeBook was y'know, alright. It looks like manufacturer Endless Ideas is taking a mighty step forward with the new version, though: the BeBook 2 will boast full touchscreen touchability, and also includes a Wi-Fi connection, so you should no longer need to sync with a computer.

It's not the first eReader to hit its second generation -- recently we met Amazon's Kindle 2 -- but the BeBook 2 seems more likely to hit our shores. For a start, it's being unveiled at European trade show CeBIT later this week.

Speaking of the Kindle, Amazon has suggested a compromise with the American Authors' Guild to disable text-to-speech on individual titles. The AAG is standing by the suggestion that the Kindle's ability to read a book to you effectively turns your ebook into an audiobook, which is a whole other kettle of copyright. Amazon will now offer author and rightholders for each title the option to turn that feature off, while still maintaining that text-to-speech is entirely legal. While this will be good news to those members of the AAG who agree with the organisation's stance, it could also allow other members to disagree -- that is, as long as the publishing companies don't shut the door on the Kindle for anyone with vision impairment.

Meanwhile, magazine megalith Hearst, the publisher of Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Harper's Bazaar, is looking to the future with the launch of a wireless ebook -- or should that be emag? -- of its own. Happily, Hearst plans to open up the device to other publishers, so you can choose which magazine or paper to read. According to CNN, we may see the Hearst reader by the end of 2009.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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