Publishers of e-books hope to lure readers with lower prices and extra features

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 July, 2010, 12:00am

Visitors to the Book Fair will find digital books that are cheaper and have more functions than traditional hard copies, publishers say.

A digital book is about 30 per cent cheaper than a hard copy and has features such as voice recordings.

A digital book released by Wan Li Book about French wine includes a voice recording of all the French names of the wines and comments on the characteristics of wines from renowned vineyards.

'Many people would like to order a particular wine in restaurants, but they are not sure how to pronounce the French names,' deputy editor-in-chief Ian Chan Yin said.

A hard copy of the book - Le Dialogue du Vin - has a compact disc that includes pronunciations, Chan said, but the iPhone version allows easy access outside readers' homes.

He expected the US$7.99 e-version to be more popular than the HK$88 hard copy and is hoping to sell 10,000 copies in a year.

The publisher is focusing on functional books and will release more language books and catalogue-like leisure books in e-format. Fifteen titles will be available by the time the fair opens on Wednesday next week.

Commercial Press and Ming Pao Publications will both release e-versions at 70 per cent of the price of hard copies this year. Commercial Press will showcase 16 e-book apps at the fair. Readers will get souvenirs if they download books on the spot.

Ming Pao Publications will introduce 60 new e-books, including works by Wong Yee-hing and science fiction writer Ni Kuang. Several iPads will be on hand at their stalls for visitors to experience the e-books.

Readers can hear recordings of passages in both Cantonese and Putonghua by pressing buttons on each page of an e-book, general manager of Ming Pao Publications William So Wai-leung said.

Digital books could help expand the publisher's worldwide readership, he said.

Eighty per cent of people who bought its e-books lived outside Hong Kong and were overseas Chinese, he said. They preferred digital versions because of the high delivery cost in buying hard copies.