The internet has completely changed the way we buy and use music and even films, now it’s going to the same with books…
Amazon, the biggest online retailer launched its first eBook about a year ago with much fanfare. When I talk about eBooks with my friends I notice that most people are still pretty skeptical about them, they don’t see themselves reading the latest novels on a screen. Neither did I, until last summer when I laid my hands on an Amazon Kindle.
A friend of mine brought an Amazon Kindle and I had a chance to take a closer look at it. If you compare books and ebooks like the Kindle, what ebooks bring is a major jump in convenience: you can download new books from anywhere in a few minutes, it’s cheaper, it’s light and portable (you can put thousands of books in a small device) and, of course, we don’t need to cut a tree to publish an eBook.
But eBooks faced a few obstacles to adoption. First, a book doesn’t run out of batteries and second, it’s not the same thing reading a piece of paper than reading on a screen, particularly in the sunlight. While eBook batteries will never beat a regular book’s battery life there have been some technical breaktroughs in screen technology that make the eBooks screens pretty similar to regular books.
So who knows when people will start moving on to eBooks but as technology progresses, it’s pretty clear that convenience will be more an more attractive.
All this is a revolution that is starting today and a few companies are fighting for this very appealing market with different business approaches.
Amazon.com has been the pioneer launching a mass-market device and is using the sheer force of its online store to heavily promote the device. The problem with the Kindle is that it’s proprietary, meaning that you can only use books that you buy on Amazon.
Barnes & Noble (the company that used to be the biggest bookstore chain in the USA before Amazon) recently launched a device named Nook. The Nook looks better than the Kindle, has a colour screen with book covers and uses Google Android. The Nook is open and allows people to buy books on B&N website and also let’s you read many eBook files. Also, it allows people to exchange books.
Sony’s eReader is the most open because it’s the only one that doesn’t have a bookstore behind it. It allows you to read books from multiple stores and formats. They have partnered with Google Books to get access to 1 million free books, which are mostly books in the public domain like War and Peace or Darwin’s ‘The origin of species’.
On the other hand all portable devices, from smartphones to iPods have their own readers.
So you can bet there will be a lot of action and opportunities in this new market which will just boom. You might be interested in joining one of the main players, although there will also be many national and local companies that you should research in your own area.