Sony Reader Distribution, The Amazon Kindle, and the rebirth of Digital Publishing

Was tweaking around some of the old links and found a fellow I linked to a while back in a post about the Sony Reader and iRex Iliad. Seems he’s started a few new blogs and posted recently about Sony Reader distribution. He’s posted a lot of articles relating to eBook distribution both in relation to devices and the actual content as well. Frankly as I look at the front page for Amazon.com and look at the ever present Kindle ad on the front page I have to wonder if eBooks will finally have a chance of reaching a larger market. I first started being interested in them when I had access to Microsoft Reader and purchased several books from Amazon.com in that format. They were decent enough, and I had an iPaq at the time so reading off it wasn’t a big deal for me. I enjoyed it. I even had fanfictions on it and read them using pocket word. I so enjoyed my first Jornada PDA.

But alas over the years eBooks never really took off. No one could really see the point of reading digital text on small 3 inch screens with bright backlights. All it did for a lot of people was give them eye strain. I was forced over time to give up on eBooks and proceed to just trying to write and post fanfiction. then last year I picked up a Sony Reader PRS-500 eInk device. The idea of eInk is that the screen makes text look more like stuff that’s being read on normal paper and not just a digital screen. I liked the technology and also enjoyed how easily I could read the content. I of course never used the included Sony software and instead used calibre on my systems. This allowed me a good portion of control and Kovidgoyal has added a lot of great functionality to his program. Then last year Amazon.com released the Kindle. This device has had a lot of success since it’s debut.

The thing is digital publishing and eBooks for years couldn’t get a real following. But now with devices like the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle more people are getting access to this. And the reason is simple, physical devices that can benefit from digital publishing. Until they came out you had to sit in front of your computer. While I never understood the disagreement of fanfiction authors towards this concept, the normal person doesn’t want to sit here all day reading. Not to mention that screens on PDA’s are bright and cause eye strain if read too long. eInk really helped by making it easier for people to read digital books period. It’s easier on the eyes and easier to curl up with one now.

As time progresses and the reader tech improves I expect to see published work move more towards the digital distribution era and more easily and readily. Newspapers are hurting a lot these days because people go to the internet and 24-hour news networks on TV to get their information. Devices that can pull that data remotely or load it up will only serve to exacerbate that problem. Also, with the desire for more environmentally sound practices I expect an eventual move away from printed paper and more towards electronic devices in general as they are reusable and more robust. Don’t believe me? Look around at anyone listening to portable music and count the number of folk using MP3 players versus portable CD players. Non-existent practically aren’t they? I expect in the next decade, maybe 15 years for us to be seeing books move in that direction as well.

The moment something like the Iliad was built and marketed, was the moment paper based books and information media went on borrowed time.