Thursday, March 26, 2009

astrobiology for aliens

Good news for all those aliens who are picking up our electronic communications but haven't dared to get in touch yet. They can now read

Astrobiology: a brief introduction

in Kindle format. Assuming, of course, they have abducted a few Kindle readers or figured out how to build the thing on their own.

My previous experience with electronic formats has been rather mixed. Way back in 2000 or so I was contacted by a company that wanted to publish my nanoworld book as an e-book and got as far as signing a contract before the company went bust in the dotcom crash.

Then there was the curious case of "Was Biotronik alles kann", which had to be pulled from the shops because of a lawsuit against the use of the B-word in the title. While the case was open, the publishers issued the content as an online book (pdf files of chapters to download separately, or institutional licences for the whole thing), with the offending word replaced by Biotronic. The publishers won the case in the end and the k could be restored.

PS: I almost forgot to mention that the current generation of ebook readers uses a display technology, e-ink, which I wrote about when it was first published in 1998. It took less than a decade to move from the lab bench into the shops. One of the rare cases where my optimistic "predictions" have actually come true.

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