Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Have Seen the Future...

...and it is palm-sized.

The husband done good for Christmas: an iPod Touch (aka iTouch). And it is fun. But it's also a little dangerous. See, you can download applications directly onto the iTouch. A checkers game? Done. More music? Downloaded. An e-reader? Done and done.

There's been a lot of noise about Kindle and how it will take over the electronic reading market. But Kindle costs $500 a pop, [ETA: they're now $359...recession?] they're relatively big, and they only do one thing: download and show books. iTouch is the future. iTouch costs between $280 (16gig) and $215 (8gig), fits in your pocket, and does everything: music, video, interwebs, picture viewing, etc. In other words: the kids will want one.

And you can download a program called Stanza that is an effective e-reader for iTouch. Many books (all classics, read: all mostly boring) are available for free through Stanza. [For a comparison between Kindle and iTouch+Stanza, check out this article]

This, not Kindle, is the future for e-readers. Portability, versatility, cost effectiveness. The iTouch with Stanza will have the same effect on books that the iPod did with music. This is the future, ladies and gentlemen, this is where electronic text is going.

But let's be honest--a complete free copy of Shakespeare's plays ain't gonna do much for most people. They want, say, Twilight.

And here's where my problem begins.

While the (boring) classics are free, the new, popular books are not. And they are rather pricey. An electronic copy of Twilight costs almost as much as a hard copy. In general, electronic copies aren't more than a buck or two cheaper (if that). And check out this article: the Amazon hardcover price of a book was actually cheaper than the electronic version!

And that ain't right.

I'm not the only one who thinks so: a recent Galley Cat article pointed out that readers tend to reject overpriced e-books.

Diatribe over, here's what I think the future really holds for e-books to be profitable and a success:
  • e-readers must be versatile and affordable (such as iTouch)
  • e-books should never cost more than $5
  • free e-book downloads should be included with the purchase price of a book (after all, I can rip music into my mp3 player after I buy a CD)
I know that I've ranted on this subject before, but...*sigh*. I'm a techie and a reader, and feel like we're this close to really making a breakthrough with electronic books. But things like overpriced readers (Kindle, I'm looking at you) and overpriced e-books (grrr...) just hold back the development of this market.

What do you think?
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