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A Kodak moment

When the Kindle started to get popular, people talked about eReaders having an "iPod moment," suggesting that the Kindle would become not only ubiquitous but also synonymous with the eReader concept. People often use iPod as if it meant "MP3 player," the way they say Kleenex for tissues or Xerox for photocopier. At the moment, the Kindle certainly is the most popular eReader in the US, although they don't have near the popularity of the iPod. But now that iPod-maker Apple has burst onto the scene with its new iPad, things could get interesting, and not entirely in a good way.

Don't get me wrong! I welcome the iPad for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, if it gets people to read more books, it has to be a Good Thing. Second, maybe this will finally make Amazon toe the line and support the ePub format for ebooks? And in general, competition is not a bad thing for technology. However, as Penguin CEO John Makinson said recently, books themselves are likely to change. This could provide opportunity for publishers to expand their product lines, but it's also a case of be careful what you wish for. The bigger market the iPad will bring could attract newcomers with deep pockets, ready and willing to develop shiny new toys to separate consumers from their money. Traditional book publishers who try to compete could be left in the dust.

When digital cameras and color printers got affordable, people stopped buying film cameras. Kodak is still around, but they don't sell much film, and their competition in camera manufacturing includes the likes of HP, Cannon, and Samsung as well as Olympus and Leica.

Amazon is a retailer. Jeff Bezos would sell his grandmother, if he could figure out a cost-effective way to ship her. Assuming the Kindle for iPhone app works on the iPad, Apple could be Amazon's biggest benefactor. But if the iPad lives up to its promise to deliver a new world of book-like entertainment, publishers could well find themselves having a Kodak moment, and not in a good way.

Note: Here's a link to second video where the Penguin folks demo some "enhanced iPad ebooks."

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
I still want them to drop an iPad and see if it still works fine.
Mar. 8th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
That would be in interesting test. I think it's significant that the only eReader device that is truly aimed at business people is made of plastic. No one wants to go into a business meeting with all their eggs in a glass basket.
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
My friend droppd her Kindle two weeks ago. She called the company, they sent her a new one . . . for free . . . and a box to ship the broken one. She said the woman apologized for only having the new international version available. It happened to be the one my friend wanted.

I know that has nothing to do with iPad, but just had to share.

Every time I hear people talking about eReaders I cling to my books. I like pages . . . real ones. :(
Mar. 9th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
The most important thing about eReaders is, you don't read them... you read the books on them.

I don't think anyone is going to wrench your books out of your hands. There are enough people who feel like you to keep print going for a long time.

Mar. 9th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
I know. And its great if it gets people to read books. I am all for that. I just get a bit sad. I'm silly. And slow to warm up to technology. You would never guessI grew up with computers.
Mar. 9th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Well, I think one reason the Kindle caught on in, you don't need a computer to use one. It's so simple, it doesn't really FEEL like technology. It really is a dangerous device for anyone with an addiction to books-- sort of like crack on demand. And after a while, you get lost in the book and forget you're using an eReader at all.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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