2nd Annual Million-Dollar Ideas

E-Books

It's hard to imagine paperbacks going the way of the Dodo and typewriter, but clearly, e-books are here to stay. While e-books will take in only about 1 percent of the $20 billion publishing market this year, it's estimated that by 2005, they'll consume 10 percent. And while your grandchildren may still curl up with a paperback on the beach in 2084, they'll likely study with an e-book, which allows for highlighting and note-taking sans paper and pen.

At least, that's the future as written by David Gray. He used to be a law student overwhelmed by cumbersome reading assignments. What he needed hadn't been invented yet: "I was looking for speed, integration with other source materials and research, and organization tools to manage all the documents," recalls Gray, 34.

And so, in 1990, Gray created Numina, focusing on the law school marketplace. Then, in 1998, he started WizeUp Digital Textbooks, a New York City-based company specializing in the relationship between technology and studying. The company produces digital editions of textbooks from mega-publishers like Houghton Mifflin and McGraw Hill. WizeUp could garner up to $500 million in the next five years.

Will paperbacks vanish? Only if customers don't want them anymore, says Gray: "The media itself-whether it's paper or otherwise-is less relevant than the value of the information and entertainment to the customer."

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 2nd Annual Million-Dollar Ideas.

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