And it is. What follows?
- The iPhone will be much more important as a new way of promoting and selling physical books, than it will be for selling digital books..... for the next few years. Few of us want to read digital books all the way through on our handheld, but the iPhone is a bookshop window with an infinite catalogue. In your pocket. This is very good news for Amazon and publishers who want to sell you print copies. Its good news for all small publishers who want to sell books direct through the mail. Publishers need much better websites with more digital samples on their pages. The digital book market will follow more slowly.
- The iPhone does not support Flash (and that is not an oversight and its a decision that will not be rescinded). YouTube is already on the iPhone because YouTube/Google have re-engineered the database so that YouTube doesnt need Flash. It uses H.264 which is what AppleTV will also build on. This is a big change for publishers who have used Flash for digital books. Harper Collins and Random House will be re-engineering their book display systems. Its again good news for Amazon Search Inside and Google Book Search who do not.
- One of the things wrong with the eBook reader concept is that it compartmentalised books. As though an eBook reader could manage with a Black on White only capability. There is no reason for this and the Apple engineers have produced a user interface through which all print products are equally accessible. Newspapers, magazines, journals, books, Bibles, concert programmes, user manuals and printed packaging. Sooner, well before later, we will be able to read and search anything through the web which has been printed. Even cereal packets, and especially seed packets, wine labels and user manuals. The iPhone is good news for printed ephemera.
- Apple will not own the books market, or the digital books market, the way it is hoping to 'own' or predominate in the music and Hollywood digital distribution channels through iTunes. Books, magazines and newsprint will be much more open, because all that is needed to sell them and make a market is the infrastructure to display and search them. All that the consumer needs is a web browser and access to an e-commerce system. Again Amazon and Google are in poll position. Google will soon be selling pay-per-view books.
- Because there is no library equivalent for books built into the iPhone, in the way that there is an iTunes for music, all those players who have a potential to fill this space will move aggressively to help fill the gap. Look for OCLC, the LibraryThing, Amazon, Bowker, Google to market and promote metadata through the iPhone eco-system. When you key an ISBN into an iPhone, what is going to happen? Apple need an answer to that question. Metadata is going to be very big on the iPhone.
- Because we will carry our iPhone everywhere and because we get used to searching book catalogues, bookshops and libraries from our peripatetic window-on-the-library, we will inevitably get used to doing a lot more snippeting and browsing. Comments, snippets, citations, gobbets and controversies will grow. Deep reading will diminish. Deep listening is also a declining skill.
- Digital books, newspapers, magazines will gradually grow to become ambient, transient and omnipresent. Not sure that anyone has yet subscribed to one of our magazines from an iPhone (but I wouldn't know if they had, and I was surprised to find that a subscriber to the Baptist Times was reading it on his Palm). Digital subs through the iPhone are on their way.