Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
The future of eBooks
Published on November 21, 2007 By Draginol In Books

I just got back from the future in my time machine. Lots of cool stuff and not so cool stuff too.

But one of the things that surprised me was how eBooks ended up succeeding in ways one didn't expect and failed utterly in the areas it was expected to do well in.

It all started with the Kindle.  The Kindle was the first mainstream (seriously mainstream) attempt to get eBooks going.  With Amazon getting behind it (just like the did the Segway incidentally) the Kindle became pretty successful in its time.  But in the end, it failed as a product once people concluded a few things about books:

  1. People like books (physically).
  2. The people who buy lots of books like to have them around.
  3. People like the share books.
  4. If you damage a book, you might be out a few bucks, damage Kindle and you're out $400.
  5. Books don't have idiotic DRM issues.
  6. Books are easy to hold and read (Kindle doesn't have enough text on screen).
  7. Books can be sized and have print designed for that book (Kindle is a one sized fits all solution).

I buy about 4 to 6 books per month. I spend a lot of time reading. I'm also a techie. I'm the ideal customer for the Kindle.  Besides the fact that the thing is ugly, overpriced, and can't even handle PDF's directly, it does have an important niche use: The ability to read many different things while traveling.

And ultimately, that's where eBooks will end up taking off.  In the future, people buy physical books still but they also get a license to the Kindle version (good for Kindle, its format becomes the standard -- Amazon gets rich off of licensing the format even as its device fails). 

So when you go on a trip, your iPhone G5 will have your Kindle books on it too that you can read while the physical book remains at home.  Which is nice since I don't have to drag with me 2 or 3 hard cover books (that's the problem with non-fiction books, they tend to be big hard covers).

But Kindle, as a device will fail. But once Amazon figures out how to sell Kindle content with the actual book for tiny extra fee, it will succeed as a format.


Comments (Page 3)
on Nov 23, 2012

I have the cheap $79 Kindle from walmart, but I've read enough books on it so far to make up for the price. I get a book and pay $7 - $20 for a physical copy, and I can get an electronic version at half or even less. The Kindle pays for itself as an investment in the first little bit I own. Not to mention the amount of free books you get that are out there in the public domain that you would have to pay for if you wanted to buy a print version for. It is difficult to read from your ipod, I've tried before I bought my kindle - it just doesn't feel right and after a while it really hurts your eyes. The kindle has a screen that makes it look like you are reading print (or at least the one I bought) and it makes for easy reading. 

on Nov 25, 2012

I have to say I was totally wrong.  I have several kindles now. Love them.

on Nov 25, 2012

And I was going to say you were totally right.  Everyone I know has Nooks.  Not a single family member or a friend has a Kindle. One of the company owners who hires me rather often had a Kindle, but he switched recently to an Apple slab of some sort.

on Nov 26, 2012

Project Gutenberg has more free books than you could ever read.

ManyBooks.net has fewer but more "quality control"

The iPad is a painful eReader compared to the kindle/nook and filled with distractions. Shorter battery life and it's like reading while looking into a light bulb.

The iPhone screen is much to small to do serious reading.

You can buy a kindle for less than seventy bucks and stock that with the classics for free.

In my opinion the kindle is not a jack of all trades but a master of one.

on Nov 26, 2012

Othello
In my opinion the kindle is not a jack of all trades but a master of one.

The jack of all trades is the Nook Color.  Of course, it is also the master of none.

on Nov 26, 2012

Yeah, with falling prices and some software improvement, kindles have got their little market pretty well cornered at this point. It's interesting to be able to read for years of opinions in one short thread, though.

Personally I read Kindle books on my phone, and only when a physical copy of the book isn't available, but I know there's a fair few people who like to be able to slide their dataslate out and read a book, even in non-travel situations. Lots of folks don't care to deal with the physicality of books after all.

on Nov 26, 2012

Frogboy
I have to say I was totally wrong. I have several kindles now. Love them.

Brad...I was going to suggest that you might be....

As you know, Terry is as 'blind as a bat' and would typically end up with cramp in the hands holding her typical thick paperbacks AND a magifying glass close to her face hour after hour......

Now she can resize the font on  a Kindle...to a few dozen words per page-turn and life's a breeze....other than the constant page refreshes meaning the charge lasts about a day.....recharged every night....

on Nov 26, 2012

Really cool going back in time.

 

My wife and i just bought 2 koboglow one each and we do not regret getting it. way cool.

on Nov 26, 2012


this was actually a good necro.  Frogboy, you may have gone to an alternate future that branched off from our timeline  , likely due to a butterfly effect if you didn't hear about some calamatous, Kindle-destroying event during your trip.

My mom gave me a Paperwhite for my birthday but said she would exchange it for a Kindle Fire if I wanted.  I chose to stick with the dedicated e-reader to minimize distractions and force myself to read more (I still get distracted and go to the computer but my laziness sometimes prevents that).

on Nov 26, 2012

use ipad.

works wonders

on Nov 26, 2012

Ipad is an interesting choice but the battery does not last long enough.

on Nov 27, 2012

My ipad 2 last approx 10 hours if being used continuously (for movies, or games), and more than 10 hours if I let it sleeps between use. I found that reading in ipad is less exhausting than reading in laptop. I like the sephia theme in iBook too