英伦广角British Vision(24):划时代的电子书刊

Now it could be a revolution for the publishing business. It's been called electronic paper, computer device which can hold 100 books or receive newspapers downloaded whilst you sit on a train or anywhere else. But instead of a flickering computer screen to give you a headache, the makers claim it's just like reading from normal paper. British consumers'll get their first chance to buy the product within the next couple of weeks. But are we really ready to say goodbye to the traditional book? Well, our Science Correspondent Tom Clark reports.

We Britons have a voracious appetite for words, each year we buy around 300 million books and every day digest miles and miles of words in 13 million newspapers. Since the time of Gutenberg, all those words have been printed on paper. But is this device or something like it about to change the way we get our words forever? Farewell to the dog-eared novel, the well-thumbed but out-of-date guidebook and the grubby newspaper, meet Iliad, the first E-paper device to come to Europe.

It's a whole new technology in screen display. It produces a very stable, very clear image; you can read this in bright sunlight.Er,it's a stable display, there is no flicker, so it's completely different to what you would normally expect from a computer screen or a PDA.

Behind this and several new E-readers coming out soon is a technology developed by an American company called E Ink. The display is made up of thousands of tiny spheres, each no wider than a human hair. The spheres sit on top of an electronic grid; each sphere is filled with a clear fluid containing black and white charged particles. By changing the charge in one part of the grid, the black negatively charged particles move to the top of the sphere, the white to the bottom, making that part of the screen black. The opposite charge sends the particles the other way. Software controlling the charges across the grid can produce any pattern you want. Its makers hope it will revolutionize reading. But the Sinclair C5 was supposed to revolutionize driving, so we took the Iliad to meet the reading public.

'You can read it, fine. It's, it's just like reading a book.'

'This is set up like a book, you know, in the same way, the same sort of er,dimensions as a book page. So, yeah, it looks quite good.'

'Do you think it's gonna replace the book, do you think we're all gonna be reading new thing in one of these...

'No, not at all'

'Why not?'

'Because this isn't, books are lovely, aren't they? And this is er,another bit of sort of plasticky metal stuff. To add to all, so um... lives are already full of plasticky metal stuff.'

Would it be better if it was bendy? One British company is developing a flexible E-paper screen, almost as thin as a real sheet of paper.

'It's very lightweight, so you can carry it around like a regular magazine. And this is incredibly robust, you know, I can just take my shoe and do this to it, and nothing happens to the display. This is just R&D electronics, the real product will look something like this. We will be able to shrink all the electronics into something on the edge of the device, so it'll be like a magazine.'

A paper-like device that can store hundreds of novels, update the news while you browse the headlines and weighs less than a paperback, almost certainly has a future. But as long as sand gets stuck between pages and corners are folded to keep your place, new technology isn't going to consign paper to the wastebasket.

1.voracious:adj. ardently enthusiastic about a certain activity; ravenous 狼吞虎咽的, 贪婪的

2.well-thumbed:adj.A book or magazine that is well-thumbed is creased and marked because it has been read so often.

3.charged particle:small particle which carries an electrical charge

4.dimension:n. measure; size尺寸, 容积, 次元

5.consign:v. To consign something or someone to a place where they will be forgotten about, or to an unpleasant situation or place, means to put them there. (FORMAL)

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