Amazon’s recent “AutoRip” service has a lot of people talking about how welcome such a service would be for books. Imagine buying a book and getting the digital version for no extra cost (notice I didn’t say “free.”) It’s something I’ve proposed for a long time, but more directly, it got me thinking about one of the first RandomMaccess pieces I wrote about online publishing — way back in 2002. Five years before the iPhone and even longer before the Kindle, there were really only two choices for reading text online: a computer screen (CRT at that), or a PDA — a personal digital assistant, like the Palm Pilot. Back then, there were two rather interesting experiments going on in online publishing. They were two very different approaches and…well, why not just read for yourself:

“The Genesis of online publishing.”