BusinessWeek: ‘Move over Kindle: E-books hit cell phones’

image Old news, of course—but it’s still good to see the mainstream press finally grasping that cell phone might turn out to be a more popular reading platform over the long run than Kindle-style dedicated readers.

Excerpt from BusinessWeek article:

Adam Parks is an avid reader of digital books. But you won’t find him downloading the 20 or so titles he reads each year onto an electronic book device like  Amazon’s Kinde.Instead, Parks flips through pages—Web-site design manuals and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War are recent favorites—on his trusted iPhone…

Some book publishers embrace the mobile-book trend and see it as a way to attract new readers. “There’s a chance for us as publishers to reach a wider audience, maybe people who weren’t walking into the bookstore or going to Amazon,” says Matt Shatz, vice-president for digital at Random House. “The opportunity is a lot greater via a phone than for a physically printed book.” In the coming years, the cell phone may become the most popular vehicle for reading digital books as well, Shatz says. Analysts estimate the makers of e-readers have sold fewer than 1 million units since the devices were introduced. But cell-phone makers shipped 36.5 million smartphones, capable of carrying e-books, in the third quarter of 2008 alone, according to Gartner.

Stanza News: The Stanza bookshop is up to 100,000 titles, of which about 50,000 are free, according to Lexcycle as quoted in BizWeek. Downloads are reaching 40,000 a day.

The public library angle: How long until Stanza or eReader gets serious after the library market with iPhone and Touch users in mind? This would be a great fit and go well with libraries’ mission of serving the cash-strapped, not just the middle class. Low-income people are buying far, far more iPhones than dedicated e-book readers.

6 Comments on BusinessWeek: ‘Move over Kindle: E-books hit cell phones’

  1. It is possible to look at any trend up-side down. I have long identified the cell phone as the incubation niche for the hand-held reader, but the issue is not the display technology or even the aspect of legibility. The issue is the physical relation of device possession with the user.

    Think of the Bible; the user wants to create a bond of possession with the device and a behavior of direct communication and through that act relate to content. Such a strong motivation of personal connection exemplifies the cell phone as well. Think of the towers and the virtual proximity with separated persons.

    Kindle is a connection with Amazon and in that sense an expansive fulfillment device. The e-book application, in my view, is a decoy. The purpose is to establish a behavior of possession and communication. Same with Google Print which attempts to provide a sense of physical possession of print libraries and knowledge.

  2. Gary, we’re sort of in the same territory. Remember, it’s “Bring the E-Books Home.” Right on!

    Of course, your thoughts would be highly applicable in the DRM controversy. DRM is the enemy of true possession from the perspective for an informed user.

    As for the Kindle, yes, the real goal might indeed be to grow bonds between the reader and Amazon—in areas far beyond e-books. Sooner or later the K machine may be much more like a Sears-style catalog than it is now.

    This mindset, by the way, could be one reason why Bezos thinks in such proprietary terms. He’s a Jobs-level control freak and feels that a lot is at stake. But who knows? I’d love to be surprised. I truly think Jeff would make more money if he were more open minded about ePub. Look how people like Joe Wikert are rooting for for Amazon to keep up with the times.

    Thanks,
    David

  3. I have been using mobile phones for reading for a couple years now. The problem here is I change my phone yearly and until I joined the apple crowd I never had any problems. Now of course the DRM bandit has me stopped. All my books were from mobipocket and fictionwise, all DRMed. I see a lot of talk against this copy protection and whilst I don’t like it, I understand the necessity for it. The publishers are convinced we will all steal if they don’t protect the works. The problem is holding back the tecnological advances and we are years behind where we should be.
    My suggestion to publishers is, by all means protect your product, but figure out a way that the consumer can transfer to different operating systems seamlessly. If I purchase a book that has my personal details embedded I am not going to want to give someone I don’t know a copy. On the other hand if I am a thieving bastard come pirate then nothing you do will stop me. But 95% of the population are honest and don’t go to that level. At the worst we may read a really good book and want a family member or close friend to enjoy the experience as well. As we do with printed works.
    In summary what I’m trying to say is if the industry keeps too tight a grip with DRM and non device transfer then the publisher’s are responsible for driving people to use alternate methods and the discovery of piracy at the end of the day.

  4. Best of both worlds. The paper book is both the best DRM device and best free share device; the content is exclusive to a single device and the device has unlimited linear sharing.

    For the moment I won’t mention other exclusive attributes of print, including that of screen discovery or digital indexing.

  5. Tony – check out the Stanza app for your iphone, and the Stanza Desktop (Mac or Windows) to deal with the DRM conversion matters. http://www.lexcycle.com/stanza

    Actually, Stanza will read mobipocket & fictionwise without needing to convert.

    I’ve been using Stanza on my iPhone – you can download books direct from fictionwise & several other sources, right in the Stanza app. Or you can use Stanza Desktop to convert txt & pdf as well as many other file types, and then port them to the Stanza app over a wireless connection between your iPhone & your Mac.

    The only thing wrong with reading on an iPhone is the screensize. But Stanza goes a long way toward making up for that with the ability to adjust fonts.

  6. Tony – it occurs to me that I might be wrong about the DRM angle – Stanza may not be able to handle protected files. Try it out with some of your files & let us know what happens, will you?

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