The Attack of the Killer eBooks
The Kindle came and I did nothing. It was not something that impacted me. It seemed cool, but unlikely to cause any need for alarm. Although, there was a deep seated sense of concern somewhere back in my subconscious.
Then came the Kindle 2 and I did nothing. Yet I could not help the feeling that this thing was not going away and it would really impact the book printing industry. But still, it was not quite right and lacked very important elements that would stop it from being a serious killer app.
Next to arrive where the Sony e-reader and the Nook and I began to see a confusing landscape where no one held the standard and like Beta tapes vs. VHS this was going to be a messy battle. Who would win? Which platform would be the leader and become the standard?
Through all of these product introductions the stage was being set for what was to be Apple’s big chance. As it has shown with iTunes, Apple can create a winning solution to sell content on the Internet. Something that defies the sites that scoff at IP (intellectual property) rights. iTunes gives voice to those of us that want to enjoy content that credits the creators, but at a reasonable price.
The iPad—and, more to the point, the iBookstore—takes a solid and trustworthy step forward in solving the issues of IP rights, such as the recent Dan Brown release where 100s of thousands of copies of the book were illegally downloaded within 24 hours of its release (http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/01/ebook.piracy/index.html).
Other benefits of the Kindle and other iPad predecessors is that people buy more content when using these devices. It is arguable: Are the people purchasing the content on eBooks a new breed of users? And will those who purchased books in the past now change their behaviors?
An area I am still unclear on, and certainly have my preference, comes in the form of ease of use. No, I am not talking how easy it is to turn these eBook readers on and download content, I am talking about curling up to and enjoying it as I bend and shape it to what ever form I need as I sit back and enjoy it. However, it is clear that this will soon be addressed as products like The Skiff Reader gain traction (http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/08/ces.ereader/index.html).
The big question still remains, “Will this hurt or help Print Media?” There is a lot of speculation, but it seems clear that with the iPad and Apple's new iBookstore we will see an explosion of book content shared via the Internet and not print. Print Media itself is thinking this could be a great boon (http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/28/apple.ipad.publishers.reaction/index.html?hpt=Sbin), but that leads me to the question, will print media be called print media in the future?
On a positive note, there is a tremendous value to detach oneself from the computer screen and disconnect. Grabbing a book and hitting the beach is still better done with a paperback book.
I would be interested in seeing a study on the effectiveness of content read on a screen vs. paper. It certainly would be interesting to see if content from paper was retained more. Certainly, being connected to the Internet while reading digital content leads one to stray… In fact, maybe we, the print industry should conduct this research. I suspect print will score higher on the retained learnings chart.