Friday, July 06, 2007

If the iPhone is the best eBook Reader ever .....

And it is. What follows?

  1. 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.
  2. The iPhone does not support Flash (and that is not an oversight and its a decision that will not be rescinded).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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
The iPhone's initial reception tells us that it will be a huge success. The best review I have seen is at Engadget. There are some interesting comments by Marc Hedlund at O'Reilly.


Eoin Purcell said...


Almost 100% on board there. I wonder though about deep reading and deep listening.

Sure on the surface things look like they are being skimmed (inevitable you might say due to information overload) but perhaps that is because the filters that allow us to get quickly to what interests us are still in their infancy.

As they mature and the overload declines because smart filters learn what we want and how we want it surely we will see greater depth?

I am in any case not convinced that deep reading is as damaged as you might think. Perhaps we just never really know how little of it there was, or how rarely it happened!

Still fascinating stuff,

Anonymous said...

"Texterity Inc., a leading provider of digital publishing solutions, has launched a beta version of the first digital magazine interface and portal designed for the Apple iPhone. This is the first time users will see a publisher’s complete magazine, as originally published, on the iPhone."
Somebody beat you to the punch?

Adam Hodgkin said...

Not sure that I understand this comment. The promise of the iPhone as an eBook reader is that it just requires the 'eBook' to run within a simple web browser. So we dont see the case for putting out a special version of the Exact Editions magazine platform for iPhone's. Should just work the way things are? Are you saying that the Exact Editions platform doesnt work on the iPhone?

Was interested to read this comment from another company which produces a magazine platform

I will be buying an iPhone as soon as they come to Europe. The concept seems to me just right.

Adam Hodgkin said...

this link got a bit truncate by blogger, so you may need to distruncate it your self with this help