iRex, the manufacturer of the iLiad ebook reader, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the Netherlands, where the company is based. (The company was spun off from Phillips.) Despite the recent launch of a 3G version, the company has not enjoyed a viable sales success and has now run out of cash. Or, as one cruel commentator (not CC in this instance) put it: “They found the market for hugely expensive mono-screened tablets with dodgy user interfaces was surprisingly limited.”

Although the company's problems are purely coincidental with the launch of the Apple iPad (and 'no' we still haven't got our hands on one – one of the perils of being based in rural Norfolk although we are looking forward to colour TV anytime soon now) there is a growing sentiment in the publishing business that the days of the dedicated ebook reader are already numbered and that general purpose devices, including the iPad, the new HP Slate and even the iPhone, will become the preferred delivery platform for digital books. As far aw we know, only Sweet & Maxwell ever experimented with the iRex as an ebook platform for legal titles.