Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gutenberg.com is giving away free ebook on history of digital media

Twenty years ago, a CD-ROM was burned 'live' for the very first time, in front of a packed room of journalists from entertainment, technology, and business.

Chris Andrews was the person who burned that CD-ROM and while it was burning, he gave a speech about how to make a CD-ROM, and what it would mean now that people could make their own CD's and CD-ROM's.

Then he wrote a book about that moment and 25 other milestones, tracking the rise of digital media from libraries to corporations and ultimately into the entertainment business. The book is in short story format, and is now an ebook available at Gutenberg.com for $4.95, or members of the Gutenberg.com email list can get it for free.

The book title is "The Education of a CD-ROM Publisher: An Insider's History of Digital Publishing." The short story about the CD Burner launch is titled "A CD-ROM Bake-Off In The Middle Of Manhattan." Mr. Andrews also included stories about publishing his first ebook on CD-ROM, the Guinness Book of Records, and his extensive work with the Grammy Awards in the digital media area.

"It was an amazing time. CD-ROM was the beginning of digital media. It was the first time we could put music, video, and high quality photos on a computer," says Mr. Andrews. "As well, it gave us deep searchable text on our desktop. That moment in Manhattan with the CD Burner was magical and inspiring, it ushered in a new era where the power was put in the hands of the user."

"If people want to know where that CD Burner in their computer came from, or for that matter understand the roots of DVD, that is what I wrote about. I tried hard to also capture the adventure and spirit of those times."

Reviews of the book, which has previously been published in hardcover and paperback, have been enthusiastic. The Special Library Association Journal said "it reads like a spy novel" and has "a smooth, informal, and sensitive style which includes humor throughout."

The book was originally published in 1993, then then a second edition was published by CD-Info Company in 1998. The current publisher is Information Today, Inc. where the book is available in both hardcover and paperback.

Francis Juliano, who was an engineer with Meridian Data, Inc. at the time of the CD Burner launch thinks the CD Burner ultimately became an integral part of the Internet infrastructure. The product name of the CD Burner was CD Professional, and it was developed and marketed by Meridian Data.

"Downloading and sharing high quality content is now a part of our Information Society," says Mr. Juliano, "Imagine what it would have been like the last 10 years if we had not been able to burn CD's on our desktop. Of course, it helps that the price of a recordable CD has dropped from the original price of $120 a piece in 1989!"

Mr Juliano is now the Chief Markeiting Officer and Chief Information Officer for Wine Enthusiast.

"I was fortunate that we had this incredible group of people at Meridian Data," says Mr. Andrews, "At the time we had 80% of the worldwide market share for CD and CD-ROM publishing systems. We were not really a company, we were more like a powerful movement."

Mr. Andrews ebook will be free to anyone who signs up for the Gutenberg.com mailing list.

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