NEW YORK, May 23, 2000 — From dinosaur cloning to time travel, author Michael Crichton has written so compellingly about future scientific and technological wonders that they have seemed almost real to us.
Bestselling novelist Michael Crichton holds a Hewlett-Packard Pocket PC with Microsoft Reader to demonstrate that his novel,
is available now for free download from Barnes & Noble.com.
The technology we’ve admired in Crichton’s fictional accounts moved a step closer to our everyday world today. Microsoft announced that for a limited period,
The online release of
represents Crichton’s first foray into the world of eBooks, and the first current bestseller to be offered for Microsoft Reader on the Pocket PC. Like the Star Trek titles–many of which are out of print–the offering will give book lovers a chance to enjoy premium quality eBooks on the Pocket PC with Microsoft Reader’s unique on-screen reading enhancements.
The new eBooks are available exclusively to users of Pocket PC devices from Hewlett-Packard and Casio, released in April 2000. A third Pocket PC device will be available from Compaq Computer Corp. later this year.
“Over the years, both Michael Crichton and the creators of Star Trek have challenged us to imagine civilizations far beyond our own, so it is especially appropriate that today they are guiding us toward a futuristic technology,”
said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development at Microsoft.
Microsoft Reader, a new software application for PCs and handheld devices, uses innovative ClearType display technology to deliver an on-screen reading experience that for the first time approaches the quality and comfort of reading text on paper. The product debuted with the release of the Pocket PC, and will be available for other platforms at no charge in mid-2000.
The free eBooks are available exclusively in the Pocket PC eBooks section of bn.com, a unique eBook superstore devoted exclusively to offering eBooks on the Microsoft Reader. Once Pocket PC users are logged on to the site, they can download the free titles using a unique identification number from the Pocket PC product. As Microsoft Reader is launched for other platforms later this year, the site will expand and evolve to offer more eBooks.
“We are happy to be offering Pocket PC customers the opportunity to download these terrific eBooks,”
said Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble.com
“The Pocket PC is a truly remarkable device that offers an unparalleled reading experience. It’s fast, it’s easy and, with Microsoft Reader software, it makes reading on-screen as pleasurable as reading on paper.”
Barnes & Noble is launching a yearlong celebration of books and technology commemorated by a mobile, 80-foot interactive technology center that will visit more than 40 cities in the United States.
Crichton portrays a group of historians who, using quantum technology, become trapped in a parallel universe set in medieval France. Like many of Crichton’s other works, the novel paints a dazzling portrait of technology and its possibilities. Characteristically, Crichton expressed strong support for the emergence of electronic publishing.
“With eBook technologies, books can assume new roles and new forms that will serve students, workers, scientists and others in ways we’re just beginning to imagine,”
“I’m happy to be part of the first wave of authors to draw attention to the amazing possibilities that lie before us.”
“We are excited to be embracing the future of eBooks with Michael Crichton and to be participating with Microsoft in bringing eBooks to consumers,”
said Erik Engstrom, president and chief operating officer at Random House (
is published by Alfred A. Knopf , a division of Random House).
“This is the first of many steps we’ll be taking to offer our world-class titles to consumers in electronic form.”
Crichton, in addition to being a writer, producer and director, is a computer expert who wrote one of the first books about information technology —
published in 1983 — in which he predicted the future of electronic reading.
“With this announcement, we’re seeing reality finally catch up to the vision that Michael Crichton articulated all those years ago,”
said Engstrom of Random House.
Simon & Schuster, publishers of the Star Trek collection, demonstrated the potential of eBooks earlier this year with the release of Stephen King’s novella,
“Riding the Bullet,”
exclusively in electronic format. The release proved there was real demand for premium digital content–there were 500,000 downloads of the book during the first 48 hours it was available.
“Our free offer of Star Trek titles reflects our continued commitment to advancing the state of the art in publishing,”
said Jack Romanos, president and CEO, Simon & Schuster.
“We’re delighted to offer readers some of the most provocative stories in science fiction–stories that are generally unavailable in print format.”
According to Brass, today’s announcement offers just a glimpse of the future of electronic book publishing. He predicted that in the near future customers would be able to read eBooks on almost every kind of computing device.
“Book lovers, authors, publishers and booksellers will all benefit from the advantages and opportunities that eBooks offer, advantages that can’t be matched by the print world,”
Developed by Microsoft Research, Microsoft Reader greatly improves font resolution on Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens for users of Pocket PCs, laptops and desktop PCs running the Windows operating system, Brass said. Beyond ClearType, Microsoft Reader includes patented reading enhancements that adhere to the best qualities of fine typography. It provides a clean, uncluttered display; ample margins; full justification; proper spacing, leading and kerning; and powerful tools for bookmarking, highlighting and annotation, Brass said.
In a separate press conference in New York, Time Warner Trade Publishing announced that Microsoft Reader will be one of the supported content formats for its new iPublish electronic publishing site. When the site goes online next year, it will provide authors, publishers and consumers with an interactive Web site for creating and distributing eBooks and other electronically published documents.