Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bye Bye the eBook reader?

Personanondata finds an in interesting YouTube 'concept' for an Apple eBook reader.

The movie shows an iPod which fits into a folding tablet device which opens out to give two reading pages. Cute. I slot my iPod into a Bose speaker system, why shouldnt I slot my iPod into an eBook tablet?

But this vision of the book-specific hardware is all wrong. Yesterday Apple launched its eBook reader the iPhone. The hardware-specific eBook reader was and is a mirage. The eBook reader that matters is the humble familiar web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera -- you take your pick). Steve Jobs says that the iPhone is the best iPod ever. Its also the best eBook reader ever. The best phone, the best music player and the best eBook reader ever. All in one package, which does the phone and email as well. The iPhone will read Exact Editions digital magazines, but we still need photographic proof of that.

Google Book Search wasnt the first, but its method shows that digital editions will be page based (five years ago that was NOT obvious). All print pages will be web pages. Are becoming web pages. Once that equivalence is accepted its all down to the software which has to work within a web browser (preferably not Flash -- which the iPhone does not support) and to the databases which run libraries and subscription services. Pages matter. Libraries matter. Databases matter most of all. eBooks dont... They really dont, they are just collections of web pages.

4 comments:

Eoin Purcell said...

Adam,

I totally agree. I have been trying to say what you have just said so well for ages and it never seems to come out right!

Does present a bit of a problem for Book Publishers though. It is tough to charge people for a web page!
Eoin

Adam Hodgkin said...

Thank you Eoin. Publishers are and should be optimistic. I think publishers would have a real problem with eBook Readers if they ever caught on as hardware devices -- the channel might become monopolised or commoditised. They ought to be able to adapt to a world of competing web services. Advertising will be important as a revenue source and they will also develop subscription models of publishing (which used to work very well in the 19th C for the publishers of the great fiction writers). But I reckon that we agree that traditional booksellers will have a much tougher time adapting to that situation. Though, even so, the well-made book will hold its attractions for a good long time.....I would rather be a (printed) bookseller in the next decade than a CD-music seller.

Eoin Purcell said...

Adam,

I guess it's about shifting your mindset isn't it.


I agree with regard to books retaining value in the current and future market.
Eoin

Seattle Man said...

You have to separate the editing/gatekeeping/vouching function of a publisher from its role in manufacturing an object out of dead trees.