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An article about the future of reading and e-readers I wrote in the October issue 2008 of Urban Lifestyle Report - New Media.

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  1. 1. 31 BRANDS MEDIA PEOPLE Digital books future or failure? Text: Linda Pierre Photo: Amazon Kindle2 Sony also recently launched an updated version of their ebook T reader. It comes with touch screen and perhaps a slightly fancier design than he Internet has become the place where we meet to discuss different Kindle. So who is the biggest player on topics, hang out and get updated on what´s going on in the areas we the market? Sony or Amazon? Well are interested. It can happen anytime and you are not tied down to a specific the answer is actually neither of them, geographical location, just as long as you can find a computer with an Internet it’s Apple with their iPhone. Sure the connection. But the thing is that you don’t actually have to use a computer for that screen is much smaller and the battery anymore, that’s pretty obvious with mobile devices like 3G phones and now also life is not that great. But on the other netbooks and function specific devices like ebooks they all have screens capable hand it’s small and if you own one odds are you of displaying texts from digital boks. So what is the future of digital reading? Will always carry it around with you. Plus it means that you these devices blow paper books back into the stone age? don’t have to spend money on yet another device. Amazon Kindle was just launched in a new and updated version a few weeks ago. Up until recently the only way to cram ebooks into your iPhone was to With Kindle you can not only read books, reports or other documents, you can buy an application for it through iTunes, but now there is a free alternative. also search for information on the Internet thanks to built in mobile broadband. Stanza is a free application that let’s you do just that, and with that I mean The reason why Amazon put the Internet connection right into the Kindle is of cram as many ebooks into your iPhone as you have room for. And that is course so that if you get the urge to buy a new book you can! It only takes a few exactly what hundreds of thousands of people have done; in only a few minutes and you can do it anywhere you have mobile coverage. Perhaps not as months 395 000 copies of this application have been downloaded and 5 000 appealing as a good old paperback in which you curl up on a sofa with a glass of more copies are downloaded each day. The best thing is that even the books red wine. But it sure does the trick if you’re travelling and don’t have space for all you can download with the application are free since they are in the public the books you need or want to read while away. Another plus is the fact that if domain (no copyright). If we compare iPhone with its Stanza application to you don’t like what you are reading, just push a button and download something Kindle, the latter with a goal to sell 380 000 units in 2008 iPhone is hitting a else. home run in the field of ebooks.
  2. 2. 32 BRANDS MEDIA PEOPLE So how many people actually read ebooks? How big is the market and what is the growth rate? Will they ever replace paper books completely? These and many more interesting questions are addressed in a recent study called eBooks – The End User Perspective. So far it’s mainly in research and the rest of the academic world that ebooks have had great success. Not that surprising considering that area is very information centric and these type of devices are great for holding large amounts of information and at the same time offer the possibility to search for information online. Those two features combined make for a reader experience that can take you from one place to another just by pushing a button, which means you can dig deeper in those areas that you are especially interested in. According to this study people that use ebook readers do so mostly in their work or studies. So it’s not a replacement for novels in paperback but rather non fiction books and reports. These ebooks are not read from page one all the way through to the end, but rather in sections looking for answers. But we have just seen the beginning of this and perhaps the next step is to replace books in school for ebook readers? One being the form factor, they just don’t look that nice today, it’s not a product that will impress the cool kids at school. The question remains; will this ever become “the killer app” for the mainstream consumers? Will There is no denying the fact that there are certain pros these consumers want to first pay for a clunky piece of electronic and then pay for the books as well? Perhaps if to digital information, like accessibility, direct feedback they can create a “must have” sensation rather than a “would be ok to have.” Especially considering the financial and also the environmental aspect of not having to chop state of the world right now. down as many trees and transporting them on trucks all over the world. The book industry is facing some of the same challenges as the music and movie industry. More and more people are buying their books online, which is driving many “analog” bookstores out of business. There is a But for ebook readers to become sexy enough to be constant discussion about copyright and the fact that young people are downloading music and movies online, “the next iPod” for young consumers there are still a but it’s still a fact that they are doing it. And now there are ways to do the same with books. So the book few challenges. industry needs some innovative products and business models to succeed in the future and ebooks might just be a part of that formula for success. No matter what happens, digital is always in style!