Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scoops, Digital Deliveries, Bestselling Pie, and the iPub

Scoops I scooped the New York Times! Well, sort of. This morning they posted a story about hybrid books and the blend of video, audio and dynamic text and the impact of these add-on features for books. You may recall that I've been meditating on this for awhile now, focusing on the same titles that the NYT article did today, plus a few I unfortunately don't have the sources to have known about. The story did add two dimensions to my ongoing thoughts on the topic, however...
  1. We're not going to get away without an egregiously cutesy name for the hybrid books. I'm at ease with "digi-novel" but can we vote before the things get pegged withe the unfortunate moniker "vooks"?
  2. Please tell me that someone is going to talk Jude Deveraux out of her madcap plan to add perfumes to "use all the senses". The perfumery is already intrusive enough on the planes and in offices without adding scents spewing forth from our e-Readers to put us in the moment that Lord Rand ravishes the bounteous Lady Kate.
Digital Delivery Hometown technology news site TechFlash has mapped the current and future market for e-books and e-readers. The graphic alone is fascinating. The market is already a bit complex and it's obviously about to get even moreso. Sony and Amazon you already know about, but there's also the upcoming Plastic Logic reader (tied to Barnes & Noble and touted as the 'Kindle Killer') and Apple's iPhone and much-ballyhooed tablet. Of course, the Big Four aren't the only players in the game. There are plenty of other e-book providers. You could possibly even include Google's Android, but that avenue is currently more about delivery of content and software rather than hardware, so I don't think of them as competitors in the e-reader market. A digital WalMart with a cheap e-reader could potentially still blow the whole thing out of the water. Of the Big Four, however, only the Apple products are probably ready to do color and video (And therefore digi-novels) right out of the box. But they're more of a convergence devices, platforms with ready-made delivery systems for ebooks, music (or a simulated beer-drinking game if you want one - see embedded video) rather than strictly an e-reader. Incidentally, this is where I think the market will eventually end up - with little to distinguish between an e-reader and the Acer AspireOne netbook I'm currently typing on. The lifespan of the e-book reader as a boutique device seems limited with Barnes & Noble and Google Books beginning to deliver e-books in a cross-platform mode. Are we about to experience a four-way war for the e-book ala VHS -vs- Betamax or more recently HD DVD -vs- Blueray? Only time will tell, but the sooner a dominant langauge or technology emerges, the sooner we'll see the market stabilize and prices for readers begin to drop. Bestselling Pie According to Neil Gaiman, if you spend a year on the New York Times bestseller list, your editor has to bake you a pie. (Congratulations, Neil!) A digital pint from the iPub

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).