I join David and the others at TeleRead in wishing everyone a happy New Year. 2015 had its share of e-book twists and turns. I hadn’t predicted the $50 Fire, for instance. And while I have my quibbles with its interface, and think the screen is a little iffy, I do think it’s a game-changer. A family can buy a six-pack of not-perfect but perfectly usable devices for the cost of a single iPad!
Other predictions I made last year were more spot-on. The iWatch was a bit of a bust, but there has indeed been massive growth in the ‘Internet of things’ connected device market. And the how-to genre is indeed dominating the Kindle Unlimited pool, as I predicted.
So, what does 2016 have in store for us? Here are my predictions for the coming year.
- Amazon’s next killer app will be a book-ifier. Now that they can get a device into your hands for just $50, they’ll want to make it easy for you to get content onto it. I am predicting they’ll come out with a suite of browser widgets—both for Silk, and for desktop systems—which will book-ify web pages and send them to your reader with one click. Wikipedia articles, blog content, even your Evernote stuff. Amazon will try to bookify it all!
- Single-use device will return. Now that Amazon has shown how cheap the tablet can be, I think we’ll see people run with it. A single-purpose e-ink device costing hundreds of dollars can’t compete with a $50 tablet. But there are other ways to go with single-purpose screens. The Beloved had a concept for a $20 tablet that did nothing but funnel YouTube. That’s 90% of what little kids do on a tablet anyway. Why spend $300 on an iPad if that’s all they need? And what about that little toy a few years back that did nothing but read Wikipedia? Get a baby like that into the library system, and you’d have something very interesting.
- Reader will catch on in libraries. On a related note, I am betting we’ll start seeing more devices of various kinds make their way into our public libraries. And not just for loaning out, either—but for in-library use. The Beloved knows a library staffer who was complaining to him about the elderly patrons who come in every day to read the newspaper. It is their social outing; they will still show up even if the content is on-line. But only the first few patrons actually get to read a nice paper. Then it gets spilled on, or bent or crumpled…what if you could put some cheap tablets in there instead and pre-load periodicals and newspaper content? In this era of $50 tablets, why not?
- So we’ll see what the new year brings. I think we may see some innovation on the hardware side, now that Amazon has planted the seed of ‘you really can afford it.’