Skiff Promises "Multiple Formats" for Ebooks

In my quest to keep tabs on the eublishing industry, today I glanced at articles about Apple’s forthcoming Tablet (which will be much more than an ereader) and Skiff, a company that promises to produce an innovative ereader and sell digital content.

As cool as the Tablet looks, it also promises to be fairly expensive — more costly than low-end notebooks — and I’m not convinced that sort of screen can function well as an ereader, which should allow for hours of comfortable reading without undue eye strain.

Judging from the pictures and descriptions, the Skiff screen looks like it will be a good reader — and apparently you can even bend the device without ill effect. I’m a bit put off by the large size of the machine: 9 by 11 inches. I want an ereader that I can carry around more easily.

I sent Skiff some questions, and a representative sent me some answers, though they weren’t very specific. I asked:

Will Skiff sell works with multiple publishing options, including HTML, pdf, and Digital Editions, or will Skiff, like Amazon, sell only works converted to a proprietary format?

In other words, will purchasers of Skiff content need to download a Skiff reader (for non-Skiff devices), or will that content read on existing and popular software?

Also, will Skiff release a smaller version of its reader for those of us who would prefer something easier to carry around?

This should be an exciting year in the epublishing industry, and I look forward to seeing how Skiff competes.

Here’s the email I got back:


Thanks for your interest in Skiff. I’ll answer as much as I can at this point in time.

The Skiff service will support multiple formats. More details to come.

One of the unique benefits of Skiff’s platform is the ability for content publishers to submit their curated content (i.e., branded newspapers, magazines, etc.) into the Skiff Platform, where it is then tailored to match the unique characteristics of different devices that utilize a variety of different screen technologies – from smartphones to eReaders.

The Skiff digital storefront will allow consumers to easily access and download a wide assortment of newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and other content from multiple publishers for use on dedicated Skiff e-reading devices, other e-readers and innovative devices, as well as multi-purpose devices such as smartphones, netbooks, tablets, notebooks and PCs – as well as via the Web. Items purchased from the Skiff storefront will be delivered to these devices via 3G, WiFi and other forms of connectivity.

We look forward to your following Skiff as we make additional announcements during 2010 in the lead up to our formal launch.


Chaim Haas
Senior Vice President, Technology & Emerging Media

Of course, whether Skiff lives up to the company’s own hype remains to be seen.

January 6 Update: Popular Mechanics has an update. One detail is that “while the screen is flexible, the device itself is not.”