Here we are, 2010! Last year was a good year for eBooks. Lots of new readers on the market, lots of new users. While there was some consolidation on the storefront side, with Barnes & Noble picking up FictionWise, there was myriad new readers announced, including a very interesting looking one from Barnes & Noble itself. (See my previous post on this…)
Amazon took the Kindle to the world, with international shipping. Sony introduced new models of its Sony Reader with more size, feature and pricing options. The new Pocket and Touch editions are speacially interesting as they add both a lower price and touch-enabled options.
This year should be much, much better. With a wider range of readers and hopefully a wider range of prices from which to choose from, we should see a lot more people starting to get their toes wet with eBooks.
While I don’t use a dedicated reader, but my iPod, I find that a lot of people reject this idea out hand because of the size of the screen. Just recently as I started to explain to a friend that just because the screen was small it didn’t mean the type had to be small, he cut me off dismissively as if to say “Hey, you are a fanatic, its obvious that the text is too small, so stop bothering me with it”. I never cease to amaze my self how people manage to delude themselves that whatever they haven’t tried or don’t feel like experimenting must be bad, regardless of what they hear. For some of these people, even a 15 inch screen will still not be good enough because they will tell you that it doesn’t feel like a book.
The Net is simply buzzing with the rumors that Apple will introduce a new device this month which might have the reading of electronic publications as one of its features. To tell the truth, while I think that Apple might just want to add this business to their iTunes offerings, they don’t even have to do that in order to shake the eBook world. If the rumored Apple Tablet device is capable of running iPhoneOS applications or if it is a simple process to update the iPhone applications to run on it, the applications for eBook reading on iPhone will be more than enough to make this device almost irresistible to eBook lovers.
Imagine a reader with a full color screen capable of displaying anything you’ve purchased over the past years plus full color PDF documents. Just that is more than enough to make most users of ebook readers salivate. If you add in the ability to listen to audiobooks, browse the Web, do email, use Twitter, access Facebook, LinkedIn, listen to your music and watch movies… Depending on how much such a device costs, things could get ugly for reader manufacturers.
While all this is still speculation, it seems pretty clear to me that interest in ebooks will continue to grow. If we will see a regular organic growth pattern or an explosive one is still to be seen. If Apple joins the game, I’ll put my money on explosive. What do you think?