The future of the eBook is combined with tradition

Last week saw the launch of Barne’s and Noble’s new eReader – the nook, with a release date of late November in America. I believe there will be a huge market in eBooks in the near future, and the iPod of electronic books may very well be the Android powered device. With its ability to share your books with other nook owners, an eInk screen to read from, its support for open formats (so you can download and read books that are out of copyright for free), access to Google Books content and its colour LCD multi-touch screen providing a multiple user interface it has unique, usable features that seperate it from the crowd.

However, one of the major problems with these devices is simply – they are not physical, touchable, leafable products.

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Books hold a unique position in the entertainment medium. Books are something that you have to touch to use. You watch a film, listen to music, and play a game, but at no point do you touch the physical product itself to use it. The beauty of a book is that it encompasses your senses. You use your eyes to read it, and your hands to turn it. You smell the product itself, and imagine the words, sentences and prose coming to life. People treasure their books far more than other medium, and this presents a problem to the eBook.

Where the eBook benefits however, is its abilities to gain easy access to the content, via online connection, and its ability to write and save notes directly in the places you wish to reference.  Exporting the details of these notes is super-easy, making referencing for reports and dissitations far easier. This makes eBook’s a certain no-brainer to gain traction in the next 12 to 18 months and become a killer product in the near future. To do this though, I think that we have to see combined sales, both electronic and traditional paper in one purchase.

If I visit Amazon, I can purchase a paper copy of a book and have it delivered to me. Amazon should be able to provide instant access to that book (where possible, obviously there are rights issues) on a Kindle, should I want it, and it shouldn’t cost much more than a few dollars or pounds to add that eBook to my purchase. If I purchase the eBook on my Kindle, then I should have the ability to have the paper copy sent to me too, and read the eBook until the physical item arrives.

I should be able to enter the page number of the book I’m sent when I combine purchase into an eBook reader, and go to the exact point in the book on the reader too. Simple, easy and fast functionality which we don’t get right now. This function would allow users to switch between the two when they wish to. They just note the number, enter it into the eBook, then jump on the train and travel. Though the ability to use the eBook device for reference material gives it a strong market position in universities, and research based jobs (where you might not eventually want to keep the book on a shelf), the casual reader doesn’t need the note taking abilities. Joe Normal doesn’t need to take notes whilst reading the latest Dan Brown novel. They just (for some reason?) want to read it. Make it easy to let the user switch between books.

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Barnes and Noble are in an excellent position to take the market to a higher level because of its bricks and mortar stores around the world. When I purchase a book at the till, all it takes is a staff member saying “Would you like to add nook to this purchase for £2/$2” and my receipt displays a redeemable code that I can enter into my nook.

The breakthrough for eBooks is simple. Mixed media. I can buy a book, I can buy an eBook, but for a few pounds or dollars more, I should be able to get access to both. When Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Borders and whoever else ends up branding devices finally start to do this, I think there will be a huge explosion in these devices.

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About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

2 Responses to The future of the eBook is combined with tradition

  1. Pingback: Nothing’s Written in Stone (or on Paper): The Future of the E-book « Friends Call Me "Meg"

  2. Pingback: Nothing’s Written in Stone (or on Paper): The Future of the E-book « The Den of the PressPlatypus

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