Technology is about always keeping an eye open for what the next big thing will be. The hardware wars of ten years ago would have left most people assuming that the future of computing was the home supercomputer, and though you would have been correct, the power of our home machines is far from the central narrative of today’s technology. I don’t think that most people would have predicted that most of our technology is focused less on our desktops and far more on what our cell phones are doing.
With that said, it’s really no surprise that eBooks are the next big idea in tech. The kindle launched in 2007, and to a fair amount of goodwill, and it opened a new marketplace. Two and a half years later, Kindle is more than a platform, as Amazon has made reader apps for every single platform that would have them. It was a strategy that has paid off, as C Net has a story citing that Amazon is now selling 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcovers, which is quite a surge for an entirely new market.
Though I think that some of the success can be attributed to the Kindle itself, I think that Amazon has a lot to show for not guarding its own hardware so closely. The iPhone, Android, and iPad apps are all excellent vehicles to push titles out the door. EBooks were supposed to herald an era where EBooks would push down book sales as much as CD sales, but I think that Amazon has created a model where its easy to not pirate, though that may have as much to do with the fact that it’s a lot harder to pirate a book.
Though what makes me sad is that when I buy an Album, I am usually able to either record my own MP3’s or I get a credit to download them, so that I get both a physical copy and the convenience of an electronic copy. I would pay an extra couple of bucks on my book to get an EBook, but having to pay 10 or 15 dollars for an EBook on top of a 10 or 15 dollar book. So Amazon you could have 233 Kindle books for every 100 hardcovers sold, you know I’m just saying.
Even local booksellers have gotten on the EBook bandwagon. Boswell Book Company on Downer Ave, one of the former Harry Schwartz Locations, has an extensive amount of EBooks for sale on its website. I think that this is ingenious and shows how much smarter the publishing industry has been after watching the implosion of the Record Industry in the face of MP3’s. The record companies have empowered Apple, Wal Mart, and Microsoft to sell boatloads of MP3’s, but they have never bothered working with Record Stores. Discovery is the key to survival for any content industry, and publishing knows that it needs smaller bookstores to continue, something the RIAA forgot about.