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Old 06-20-2008, 01:08 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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E-books are three years behind MP3s

Book Business has an article about a presentation given at the London Book Fair. In it they did an interesting comparison between e-books and MP3s.
Quote:
First, Kent noted that a revolution is occurring:
  • Today, more people are reading on screen than on paper (not just books, but all types of reading);
  • 10 years ago, $0 was spent on MP3s;
  • 2007 e-book sales were greater than 2004 MP3 sales.
Kent noted, “I don’t think things will move as fast in digital books … but we’re really only three years behind in retail [sales].”
There are some other interesting observations on the difficulty of buying e-books the natural evolution from single-purpose e-book devices to multifunction platforms. Kent also says that "DRM that works" is needed. No mention of non-DRM alternatives, but he's right - DRM is a nightmare in its current form.

Check out the entire article for more, including why e-book devices as we know them will not survive long.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:47 PM   #2
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hmm. interesting article, although i'm not sure if i agree with (/like) all of the points he makes. for example, his idea of books with embedded video... we can already do that, online, of course, or offline by creating multi-media interactive hypertext applications, and some of those can be brilliant. but i don't think i want that to be the future of my books. reading is a rather unique medium in that it engages the reader in a significantly more active way than video to create their *own* sounds and images of the story, and to me adding video would be a loss rather than an improvement. there is already tv ; i don't want tv in my books as well.

for the same reason, i'm really not sure i want a multi-function device. i want a telephone, of course, but i want it to be really small and have a good color screen, because i like the convenience of the built-in camera. it's horrible to read on for longer than a 30 minute métro ride and i certainly wouldn't want it to be my main device. on the other other hand, i want my liseuse to be MUCH larger than my telephone, and i absolutely DON'T want a backlit screen. horrible for taking photos ! and i would look ridiculous holding that giant thing up to my ear to make a call. so, for me, certain devices are absolutely better as single-function. it will be interesting though to see the evolution of the technology / hardware;

also his idea of drm, scrambling the insides of books... lord preserve us. imagine the day the drm company who manages your entire library decides to stop supporting that format, and you're left with an entire library of scrambled texts. no, no ; that is not the way. watermarking is fine with me, if you're going to be all paranoid, but seriously, learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you : NO DRM. sheesh.

on the other hand, despite his saying that ebooks are advancing more slowly, if we really are only 3 years behind mp3s, that's pretty good news i think.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:11 PM   #3
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Wow, their servers suck. I had a hard time getting the first page up, and I still haven't seen the second page.

Considering that PDAs are going the way of the Dodo, I don't think that his wish for a multipurpose device will come to fruition. Even stuff like the Asus EEE it a bit bulky for reading purposes.

Maybe cell phones is the answer there if they are able to get eInk to be practical for such purposes. But, there is the issue of screen size.

As said above, I don't really want multimedia features with my book. I don't even want color, since most of my paper books are in black n white as well.

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Old 06-20-2008, 02:12 PM   #4
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Only 3 years? I don't believe it. mp3 were mainstream 3 years ago. ebooks are not.

And what do they mean with "2007 e-book sales were greater than 2004 MP3 sales"? Only if they're talking about $$$, as an ebook costs several mp3 files.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:12 PM   #5
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The number one thing that is needed for an effective ebook reader is a very readable screen of at least a medium size, say the Kindle or Sony's current size. Currently screens with this capability do not work well for multi-function devices (slow refresh, no color) but some day they probably will. When that day comes then a multifunction device would be possible that covers ebooks and more general computing needs.

For really small devices such as a cell phone or mp3 player the screen is simply too small to make an effective ereader for content of any length or people with aging eye sight.

In addition to a multi-function device for reading ebooks I could see a market for a dedicated ereader whose main goal is low price. Ebooks will only really take the lions share of the book market when the reader purchase is not an issue. While a multi-function device will work for many it's probably going to remain at least moderatly expensive. A cheap targeted ereading device will let even the casaul reader in on the ebook experience. Until then you'll still have a big market for the dirt cheap paperback.

As far as making the the book buying experience easy, Amazon already has that down. If there were just one industry standard ebook format then much of the current hassle of buying ebooks would simply go away. And if the books are readily available at a resaonable price the need for DRM will also go away. I don't think many will bother with the hassle, legal, and moral issues of the dark net if the legitimate path is made easy.

Last edited by TheJohnNewton; 06-20-2008 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:28 PM   #6
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i confirm, their servers *do* suck.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:50 PM   #7
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Quote: hmm. interesting article, although i'm not sure if i agree with (/like) all of the points he makes. for example, his idea of books with embedded video... we can already do that, online, of course, or offline by creating multi-media interactive hypertext applications, and some of those can be brilliant. but i don't think i want that to be the future of my books. reading is a rather unique medium in that it engages the reader in a significantly more active way than video to create their *own* sounds and images of the story, and to me adding video would be a loss rather than an improvement. there is already tv ; i don't want tv in my books as well.


And commercials would follow immediately on the heels of this.
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:41 PM   #8
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I do not buy this article for several reasons. MP3 took off because it was so easy to generate them from you cd's. Books are time consuming and with mixed results to scan, so one analogy breaks down immediately.

Second - pc/laptop reading is not going to take off for many reasons - better screens have nothing to do with. As people mostly still watch movies on their tv's rather than on their pc's, so it will be with books. There will be a specific form of book consumption.

Videos in books - give me a break !!
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:51 PM   #9
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I'd argue that the Nokia tablets work as a multifunction device (ebook,mp3,video(weak),internet,voip) and the upcoming generations of MID will be even better.
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Old 06-20-2008, 04:38 PM   #10
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I also don't why multi-function devices can't prevail. The best thing about them is, you have multiple choices, and you cut down on all the stuff you have to bring. And as a long-time (and comfortable) PDA reader, I say to each his own.

Have fun solving the DRM thing, though.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:26 PM   #11
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As soon as he started talking about DRM being needed to scramble PDFs it became obvious he really doesn't understand the eBook industry.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:51 PM   #12
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Puts me in mind of a friend of mine (Travis by name) who went to get a cellular phone.

He said (and I quote), "I want a phone. I don't want to take pictures. I don't want to make appointments. I don't want to send email or text messages. I just want something that will let me input numbers that will connect me with someone on the other end of the line so I can talk to them. I WANT A PHONE."

For me .... I just want something to read. Not a camera, calendar, movie viewer, or digital butler. Something I can read. Having the capability to carry hundreds or thousands of books with me at one time ... that's more than enough magic for me.
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyMaveety View Post
He said (and I quote), "I want a phone. I don't want to take pictures. I don't want to make appointments. I don't want to send email or text messages. I just want something that will let me input numbers that will connect me with someone on the other end of the line so I can talk to them. I WANT A PHONE."
That's funny... and also the reason that I have a basic Audiovox phone on Virgin pre-paid mobile service. although I did text message every now and then.

I think there was a survey taken which determined that most people use only a few features of most tech gadgets they have.

BOb
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Old 06-20-2008, 10:15 PM   #14
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I would like to see this 'Harry Potter' e-Books / pictures ;o).
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Old 06-21-2008, 03:44 AM   #15
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I think Kent lost me with the
Quote:
current complexity of e-book purchase and activation. He described the typical process: finding the book, selecting it/putting it in a shopping cart, checkout, then receiving an activation code via e-mail, etc. The potential problems include: the e-mails often go into junk filters or are not received, the activation fails, the book download fails, and/or browser compatibility issues arise.
I remember having to do that with my PDA, but the Sony Reader, eBookwise, Kindle require nothing like the nightmare he portrays.

Kent really does not seem very well informed about the new ebook devices, and how they work.
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