Amazon’s Kindle could be headed for the woodpile. The new Barnes & Nobel ereader device is coming at the end of November.
The new device is called the nook. Like book nook, I guess. But this thing has a color touch screen virtual keypad like an iPhone and it displays book pages on an eye-friendly E ink display. It appears to be sleek and well-designed. It will also allow ebook owners to lend their ebooks to other people who own Nook devices for up to 14 days. That’s a big deal.
Another thing it has going for it is support for formats like ePub, eReader, PDF, MP3, JPG, PNG and BMP files. One article compared this device to Amazon’s by saying it was like the internet compared to Amazon’s AOL. It has free 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
After the ongoing grotesque behavior by Amazon and its apparent lack of concern for owners’ rights it won’t take much for Barnes & Noble to turn Amazon’s ugly duckling of a closed-system ereader into a bad joke.
I never took the plunge to buy a Kindle from Amazon because I don’t trust their intentions. I have no hesitation to run out and buy the Barnes & Noble device as soon as it comes out in November.
Here’s a reprint of a fascinating and well thought out CC-licensed article by Ransom Stephens on the openDemocracy Network about the future of books and publishers. The main thrust of the article is that books will survive mainly in hardback versions, electronic on-demand publishers will take over the bulk of book publishing, this takeover will begin the day Stephen King releases a major novel through an online self-publishing outlet, major publishers will whither and eventually be outmoded, and bookstores will thrive in a healthy relationship with electronic publishing.
Booking the Future
Ransom Stephens (openDemocracy Network)
Though the role of publishing has not changed – connect readers to writers – the revolution will not be led by an established publisher. To date, no established player has prospered through, much less led, the transition to the digitally-based economy. What’s left of the recording industry is still pursuing the fascinating how-to-best-prosecute-our-customers business model. No one was better positioned to profit from the web-based economy than Sears, with its legendary catalog, but Amazon all but killed it. Even IBM barely survived the computer revolution.
For some reason, even when entrenched companies can see the iceberg they can’t turn the ship. In 2000, at the height of the “Napster Crisis,” Time-Warner/AOL’s CEO, Richard Parsons said, “It’s an assault on everything that constitutes cultural expression of our society… And the corporations won’t be the only ones hurt. Artists will have no incentive to create. Worst-case scenario: the country will end up in a sort of Cultural Dark Age.”
Have YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Blogspot, et al reduced cultural expression? Here’s a better example. In 1977, Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) which, at the time, built the best computing hardware, said, “There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.” Time-Warner/AOL, Sears and IBM survived, but are swimming in the wake of Dell, Google, Amazon, etc.
This image is floating around the internet along with rumors that Apple is ready to unveil a much larger version of its iPod Touch that might be called MediaPad. Apparently, it has a 6-inch HD touchscreen and will have cellular wireless connectivity. So people are writing about this thing as a Kindle-killer. Apple is also rumored to be preparing an ebook reader application that will allow book purchases through the iTunes store.
I think this has been coming for a while and I am almost certain that Steve Jobs will implement the first serious major competition for Amazon.
Here’s an ebook version of a children’s story we released in 2000. It’s by David Lawrence Parker and is about a determined little girl with an inventive mind and her kitten, Ho Ho. They take off on a great balloon adventure.