Every couple of months our neighborhood book club gets together. This last week we discussed Devil in the White City. We were interested in the book because of its Chicago connection.
Electronic books came up in the course of the discussion and I mentioned the Kindle. I was met with a roomful of blank stares.
Now, these folks do not have their heads in paper bags. They are informed. They listen to NPR. Some are educators. Heck, they are in a book club, for goodness’ sake. But something that is all the buzz in the publishing industry was something they had never heard of.
It reminded me that I live in a big country and a small industry. Even when a book sells millions of copies, most people have probably never even heard of it. So if Amazon has sold one- or two-hundred thousand Kindles, it’s really small potatoes.
Certainly for those of us in publishing it is our job to stay on top of trends and new developments, and plan effectively for the future. But a dose of perspective can help us do that too.
3 thoughts on “Electronic Reality Check”
I’m pretty excited about the Kindle and its cousin, the Sony Reader, but I have to admit: the only people I hear talking about it are publishers and authors. As much as I have tried, I still can’t justify the economics of buying a Kindle, when paper books are so easy to obtain or borrow. (I do think the e-Ink is too cool – I can’t resist trying out the Sony Reader on display at my local Borders every time I get a chance.) For e-books, I’m more optimistic about my iPhone as an ebook reader. I’ve been reading a public domain copy of The Wizard of Oz using the free iPhone app Stanza.
I am with you on all this. I think you may be right too about phones overwhelming dedicated e-reader devices.
Here’s an interesting post that is thinking along the same lines about the potential for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) in electronic publishing. With Apple’s open-source model on the iPhone, they can watch what kinds of apps people are using and then build a better model to virtually monopolize the digital book industry as they have with iTunes in digital music.
Of course, the great advantage Kindle has over the iPhone/iPod is screen size, and they aren’t done innovating yet either. [HT: TeleRead blog]
It will be interesting to see how it develops.
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