Fantastic News (I hope)
Let me chime in here as possibly one of the biggest fans of ebooks ever. I am the total opposite of some posters here; once I discovered the convenience of ebooks about 8 years ago (on a Palm V) I now only read ebooks and am happy to pay the same price as a physical product just for the convenience, in fact if it supported the industry and made more major titles available in the format I wanted then I would even pay a premium for an ebook vs the physical product.
I now read my ebooks on my Windows Mobile smartphone (an HTC Touch Cruise) and the convenience of having your entire library in your pocket and always having a book with you if the train is late or even just if you catch a heavy shower and want to wait in a doorway for 10 minutes for it to pass is something that only an ebook gives you. I have no issues whatsoever in reading literature on my phone's 2.8" screen.
I do agree 100% with the first comment from Stuart though, DRM is a (the) huge issue. It's like the (mercifully now finished) HD vs Blu Ray format wars but far worse because there are more competing formats (eReader, Mobipocket, Microsoft and Secure PDF to name just a few). The format or formats that Penguin chooses will be hugely significant because it will be the ebook equivalent of one of the major movie studios choosing a high-def DVD format and we all saw how that finally resolved the DVD format war.
Even if Penguin choose some format other than the one I use (eReader) then I will at least take some comfort in the hope that whatever choice they make will help consolidate the market.
Message to TheRegister - please keep an eye on this story, I'm anxious to hear Penguin's decision on format or formats as soon as it is made.