Seth Godin has written a tremendous column today about the benefits of the growing ebook market. While his instrument of choice in the column is the new Amazon Kindle II, his thoughts are pretty generic to the ebook market. Personally I prefer the Sony Reader and last year purchased one of their new 500-series readers. This was before their unveiling of the new 700-series and touch screen technology.
I plan to write a series of posts on ereader technology at a later time but I wanted to focus on a few points made by Godin in his column:
1. “Pass Along” credit. I like the idea of being able to forward a book to a friend. I think this idea has merit in an era when there are umpteen books for a person to read and an author needs to get his name out there. Both Sony and Amazon are proprietary in their content so this is an issue I think needs to be resolved at the publisher’s level as they release a license for their works.
2. Purchasing a “loaded” reader. Godin mentions buying a reader pre-loaded with books. I have one better. Why not purchase a reader with credits to purchase books you like? The Sony Reader comes with excerpts from several well known books on it. My understanding is that the excerpts are updated every so often so a reader purchased today would have different selections than mine did. Another bonus was the Sony Reader allowed me a download credit for 100 classic (i.e. Public Domain) books. I would have liked to have seen them include a credit for ten to twenty free books under $15 at the Sony store. Given the bandwidth needed to download the books and relative inexpensiveness of the file itself, this could be a huge bonus to get people to try a reader.
3. Knocking off the textbook market. College texts (and middle and high school for that matter) are expensive. Godin suggests using “open source” textbooks in a reader format that can be used by schools. I’ve said for a while now that this is where the market should logically go. Arming students with a light to carry reader and the textbooks they need on it would do wonders for their backs (do you ever see how large the backpacks are that they carry?) not to mention a person’s wallet (less expense). This will be done after I’m done with my graduate degree I’m sure but it sure would be nice for my kids to have the option of having their texts downloaded to a school supplied reader and then have the kid turn it in at the end of the school year. This could help build the market for reader purchases in the future not to mention goodwill for the company who first takes the plunge to offer schools this option!
Do any of you use a reader device for ebooks? I never could get in the feel for it until this latest series of readers with their e-ink technology came on the scene. Now, I love mine. I can take literally hundreds of books with me in a small carrying bag without the hassle of hauling them and the resultant damage that occurs from such use. Godin has long championed this format and I think his column today is a precursor of things to come.