NASA officials used to say that they would know they'd made their mark when a space shuttle launch wasn't news any more. Electronic books are trying to make their mark in the same way now, trying to become mainstream enough not to be news.

One effort to bring e-books into the mainstream is Random House's, the first electronic effort from a traditional publisher to mix digital culture titles with other nonfiction. Of the imprint's first 16 titles, four are computer culture—related. All the AtRandom books list for $9.95 in a variety of electronic formats from e-tailers, followed a month later by a print-on-demand trade paperback for $15 from bricks-and-mortar stores.

A common assumption has always been that e-books would be a hit first with computer book readers. Technical people were "in the digital comfort zone," at ease enough with various kinds of technology to see e-books as just another format, like a mass market paperback. Two publishers are working hard to break out of the computer-ghetto mindset, and make e-books accessible by ordinary people.

Hungry Minds Inc. has just released E-Publishing for Dummies ($24.99) and Top Floor Publishing is about to bring out Poor Richard's Creating E-Books , both of which discuss the different formats available, as well as distribution and promotion.

One question remains, though: If digital culture becomes this pervasive, what will become of computer publishers?