Friday, August 07, 2009

A Dash More On E-reading

Not to distract from the Friday cat blogging, but I wanted to post a brief follow-up to J. Steven York's post on ebook readers, linked yesterday by Kelly, while the topic was still fresh on the blog.

Per Wired magazine, it seems that Dell and Intel are looking into launching a tablet reader program akin to what we now see in the cell phone industry. That is to say, you would get a "free" (or possibly very affordable) tablet reader when you sign up for a unspecified subscription period, just like you can get a "free" cell phone when you sign a two year contract with most service providers. The tablet model seems to be based mainly on electronic news sources at the moment, but I easily see how a regular, cheap supply of tablets could lead to on-line books subscription programs (akin to what Mr. York posits for book clubs), not to mention direct-to-tablet sales from publishers and, yes, authors. And, of course, there are lots of other things that could be streamed that way as well, for a price (movies, videos, etc. and so on).

A lot will depend on the capacity and capability of the tablets, whether the subscription material can be copied or transferred to other media or storage devices, and how readily the modern publishing business model will transfer over to the tablet format, but it's not something they will be able to ignore for long. I still prefer the feel of a solid book (or newspaper, or magazine) in the hand as much as the next Luddite; but that doesn't mean easily available tablets won't have their place at the table -- or even sit at the head of that table some time down the line. I learned long ago that now matter how much I may wish it were otherwise, it ain't all about what I want. My tactile preference for paper may not make it to the next generation or two, at least on some levels.

As for the Kindle and the Sony Reader: this should be a wake-up call for them as well. Or a death-knell. Either way, the paradigm of print will shift even more, and that is something we writers will need to keep an eye on.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Would you switch to a tablet for news? Reading? General entertainment? And how do you think this will impact you as an author down the line?

4 comments:

Kelly McCullough said...

Hey Doug, the post now above this one is also not meant to distract. I just couldn't not comment on the mess.

On topic: Would I trade away my paper periodicals for the same content in an ereader? In a heartbeat. I'd probably be willing to do the same for a lot of my paper books if the costs and technology looked right.

Kiyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiyote said...

I am a READER...go thru dozens in a month (probably makes you guys happy to hear that).

I love seeing my books on my shelves - especially genre books cause even the spines are colorful. They are old friends i visit again and again.

I tried the orignial kindle for the 30 day period and returned it for the following reason:

1. I didnt own the book in the end - that bothers me - say if i like a book but dont think i will re-read it - i will donate it to the library - where it will get use...you cant do that with digital.

2. I hated the shades of grey - no color and the digital versions never showed the real covers of my pretty books.

3. you can read blogs on the kindle - for a price! you should be able to read all blogs via a reader and you need color for this.

given all that, I have heard rumors that apple will release a tablet/reader soon...if they do it - i will buy one. i will use it for blogs.

For books - it depends on how they handle the DRM vs price issue. price has to come way down if you really don't own what you are buying.

NOT that i agree at all with those crazies who put digital media out there for free to all users (they are pirates).

Shawn Enderlin said...

It's really impossible to know how this will all shake out. As Doug mentioned, there are more readers (tablet and otherwise) on their way.

There are really only a few things we can say for certain at this point:

1) the ebook reader/marketplace will look completely different a year from now. there will be new stores/readers/tablets and it will shake up the status quo.

2) DRM must die. The music industry couldn't make it work and the publishing industry won't have any better success.

3) For a reader to have mainstream appeal it must a) be priced around the $100-150 price point, b) have color, c) support wireless 3G, d) have access to most if not all titles (that means you John Grisham and you JK Rowling!)

4) When all of this comes together it will change the publishing industry - it has too, right? - but exactly how remains to be seen.
I found this to be an interesting discussion of the possibilities: http://www.nytimes.com/external/readwriteweb/2009/07/16/16readwriteweb-bits-of-destruction-hit-the-book-publishing-2381.html?pagewanted=1

As for what I'd like to see as an author (unpublished, but I'll still throw in my 2 cents) is a) more control over my intellectual property b) more $$ for my intellectual property.