Read A Good PowerBook Lately?

Publishers are discovering the virtues of paperless novels. But will readers curl up to a computer screen?

THE HARD-COVER BOOK IS A PRETTY venerable piece of technology. The letters on the page are descended from movable type pioneered by Johanes Gutenberg in the 1400s. The paper is not all that different from papyrus used by the Pharaohs. Books today may be written with word processors, but they are still printed in ink, bound with thread and delivered essentially by hand.

Computer enthusiasts have long predicted that the digital revolution would soon liberate the word from the printed page and put it directly on the screen. In the past decade, hundreds of reference books -- including such well-known titles...

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