Electronic Publishing: Beethoven Meets the Klingons
You have to give Bill Gates credit. The Microsoft supremo may have been caught unawares by the Internet, but he caught on to multimedia at just the right time.
Microsoft was one of the first companies to produce a range of "infotainment" titles on CD-Rom. Infotainment is a new category of software that combines information with entertaining multimedia features such as sound and video.
Its first titles were studies of Mozart and Beethoven that contained music clips, text and illustrations. These sold well but they were a bit dull.
A British company called Media Design Interactivehelped to point the way forward for infotainment software when it published a CD-Rom called Creepy Crawlies.
Filled with video clips of spiders, snakes and other squirmy creatures, it was a surprise hit and one of the first big-selling CD-Rom titles here.
Microsoft got on the case, with Dangerous Creatures and a Dinosaurs CD-Rom. Now there are hundreds of infotainment titles available, from Oz Clarke's Wine Guide to Dr Ruth's Encyclopedia of Sex. Even Mrs Beeton's Book of Cookery and Home Management made it to CD-Rom.
CD-Roms tend to be more expensive than books, typically costing pounds 20-pounds 50 per title. These prices will come down as sales volumes increase, but they will probably always be more expensive than books because of the cost of designing and editing the content. …