January 5, 2011

eBook - not one but two revolutions in the making!

Amazon sais it sells more ebooks than hardcover. This is quite amazing for a market segment that was not even around just 3years ago. So commercially this is a revolution.  It’s all good, Amazon Kindle, Sony eBook, Indigo Kobo, Barnes and Noble Nook, and so many more are doing wonderful business, and we have lots of choice as consumers.

The other revolution, the not so good one. The flip side of the coin,  ie you and me are buying those ebooks and yet we are settling for a lesser user experience.

The short of it is why is: it still is not possible to lend my ebooks or magazines to someone who wants to borrow it from me? The ebook reader economy is making our book reading experience go backward. I respect the authors, and the whole food chain for their contribution and the need for them to make money. At the same time it’s mandatory for the industry to give us what is good about books and magazine. The ebook revolution is making us going backward, while it should be about improving the physical world use cases.

First the industry needs to allow people to lend and borrow ebooks. As a book reader, and owner, I want the freedom, to lend my books. The digital world can be better than the physical world. Take the following scenario:

I’m having lunch with a friend, and we get talking about a subject I read in a book, I pick up my mobile phone and just lend my ebook to my friend right then.”

The digital lending is better because I can lend a book I might not even have with me. It’s better because I will have a system to remember who I lent it to! I might even be able to revoke the lending automatically after so many weeks/months, so that I can use the ebook again. There are surely many more ways it can be better.

Second the industry needs to allow people to read an ebook from any vendor on their device of choice. In the scenario above, my friend could own a Kindle and I own a Sony reader, we want to be able to share books no matter what.

The industry might be enjoying a gravy train these days. Since we can’t borrow, we have to buy, ie additional sales where in the real world it would not be additional sales. This is shortsighted on their part.

The industry has to mature, it has start to work together. We want them to work together so we can enjoy our ebook experience as much as the physical book one.  I say it has to get real. The ebook experience must evolve, get to be on par with the real life one. Collaboration is difficult, egos have to be put aside for the greater good, we’re in for a long and painful road.

What do you suggest we do to help industry realize what a very important need for ebooks to go further and be even more useful?


Catherine said...

Hi Fred,

I agree with you 100%.

You may want to take a look at the Kindle Lending Club page I set up on Facebook. We have an enthusiastic group of members who are lending and borrowing with strangers, and this can happen because, as you noted, there are some elements of ebook lending (automatic book return, primarily, in our case) that trump dead-tree book lending.


Mario Laureti said...

I like your article.

Now that you have defined all the high level requirements...

We just need to implement a secure solution or a standard for lending / exchanging books.
With a few Kindle and Google contacts and a good team :-)

Easier said than done but that would be an interesting/challenging project.

I like your Facebook Lending Club page Catherine.

Thanks for sharing your article Fred!