Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Books: Last bastion of print in the digital age to fall soon

Books seem to have survived the digital revolution so far. They are the last bastion of print media to continue to be used by the majority of readers without a direct digital replacement- so far..

Attempts at electronic books reading devices- which are basically digital pads with long battery life- have been around for some time, but readers have not taken to them. It has to be said that none of these devices has been quite impressive enough to become a viable alternative and the parallel development required is for eBook sales to take off too.

But, first let’s talk about the unique experience of holding a book and what benefits must be replicated in a device.

It is generally agreed that the main issue has got to be clarity of text and comfort to the eye (no screen glimmer). Next in importance is light weight, intuitive ‘page-flipping’ technology and very long battery life (at least as long as it takes to read a whole book). Imagine one charge - one book; difficult but maybe possible.

So, what are the devices out there now that promise some of these lofty benefits?

The best looking device at the moment has just been created by Amazon.com, which is interesting when you consider that they are the top bookstore on the Internet. But, it seems they now have a vision to completely undercut every offline store, by ensuring that eBooks make a bigger impact, and therefore readers will be downloading their books from Amazon instead of visiting Barnes & Noble, Borders or Virgin Megastore to buy them!

The Kindle which sells for $399 has just been released in the United States, and you can buy the top selling books as downloads at $9.99 each, and older titles for various prices lower than that, and you can even download blog feeds for around 99 cents.

It looks good, comes in a folder-like wallet that feels like a book cover, and as you expect it offers additional features like web browsing and audio capabilities. Show me a book that can do that!

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos says that “books are an already handy thing”, referring to the already nice portability of paper books. That’s why even he admits that “it will take time for people to adopt this product.” But he believes it will happen, simply because people will want to the convenience and ease of downloading attractively-priced ebooks, and therefore will need the device to do that.

It feels like how the iPod revolutionized the music industry. I wonder why Mr. Gadget of the 31st century so far, Steve Jobs - creator of the iPod- isn’t working on a ebook reader by Apple.

But, it looks like the Kindle is the start of this wave of competent devices, and there will be many more.

Would you dump paper books for one of these any time soon? At first thought, your answer may be no.

But try to remember how you felt about the digital camera and the MP3 player when they were first launched. Now tell me that you don’t own either of these devices!

An ebook reading devices will join them one day. It’s just a matter of time.

zanasser@gmail.com

4 Comments:

At 4:58 AM , Blogger EmiratesMac said...

For some things this may replace the paper version but not for everything. I still really like a paper book, a paper magazine, etc. I read plenty of similar things already as PDF on my MacBook, but it's different. I've obviously not tried the Kindle, but I doubt it would replace paper stuff for me. I get what you're saying about mp3 player and digital camera but those are different. They replaced already electronic devices, camera used film, and instead of mp3s we had cassettes and cds. At least they replaced devices, but this adds a device.

 
At 5:00 AM , Anonymous Qwaider قويدر said...

Best looking device!? Have you seen the Sony reader which has been out for .. oh a year and now they're launching v2!?
Check the comparison here I think you will change your mind once you see the contender!
I think both employ the same e-ink technology which makes them easy on the eye. But until the day when a Ebook can be as cheap as the paper pack which you can throw in your backpack and throw the 2nd floor window without getting it damaged. AND now slip from your sweaty hands as you read from in on the go. I say, ebooks are cute toys at the moment.

 
At 11:55 AM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

Thanks for the comments!

Actually, I am aware of the Sony device and others. I am saying that this is the 'first credible' unit, as reviews for the Sony suggest its screen glimmers too much unlike a book page :)

This one sounds better, of course I haven't seen it.... but I'll get my hands on one very soon!

 
At 6:15 AM , Anonymous Qwaider قويدر said...

Not sure what the EVDO will accomplish outside of the US, you don't have a choice to have GSM data connection on it.
Then the pennies and the dimes! That really sucks. You will pay Amazon for everything that you will read.

But here's the cool thing. If you were the US, you will wake up in the morning to have all your morning news delivered to your device. You subscribe once and it's downloaded without bothering you at all. Pretty cool feature if you ask me

 

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