Last week was our second TOC Frankfurt conference and it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. I had the pleasure of being one of eight Ignite speakers at the show. If you're not familiar with Ignite presentations, they're each exactly 5 minutes long consisting of 20 slides which auto-advance every 15 seconds. The title of my Ignite talk was "My eContent Wish List". Not surprisingly (given the Ignite pace) I found myself rushing through my presentation so I thought I'd cover some of the slides in a short series of blog posts (where I can control the pace myself!). The entire deck can be found here on Slideshare.
This is one of those areas that I can't believe there's still debating. When I buy an ebook I want it in all popular formats (EPUB, mobi, PDF) all of which have no DRM attached. Yes, I'm biased since this is how we sell ebooks on oreilly.com but it works exceptionally well for us. Unfortunately, I can't name another publisher that does this; more importantly, you won't find that option in the Kindle or iBooks stores. Publishers, wake up and follow O'Reilly's lead. The (current) leading retailers are trying to protect their own platforms, although those rules will change when (and if!) Google ever releases their Editions program. Imagine how many more ebooks the industry would sell if every time a customer buys one they knew they wouldn't be locked in to a single device or platform.
Readers for All Platforms
If you're too stubborn to follow my format/DRM advice, at least be sure the content purchased works on all the popular platforms. This is one area where Amazon truly shines. Even though they're largely selling DRM'd mobi files, they've got a reader for each and every platform. That's why I buy my ebooks from them and not Apple. I know that I can read my Kindle books on my iPad, my Mac, my iPhone, and, if I ever want to go retro, even on my first-gen Kindle. There's also a Kindle reader app for the Android platform, which is good to know since I'm seriously thinking of switching from iPhone to Android next year. Do you suppose Apple will ever offer an iBooks reader app for the Android? Yeah, I don't think so either, so I'll continue buying Kindle editions instead.
Social Networks, Please?
This is another head-scratcher to me. If I've just read a great sentence or two in an ebook, why can't I tweet it from within the reader app? "Tweet this" buttons are everywhere except ebooks. I'm looking for a bit more though. I want an e-reader app that lets me not only tweet my enthusiasm but also link to the actual content in the ebook. After all, how many meaningful excerpts can be stated in 140 characters, not to mention the need to include the title of the book?! Amazon has a chance to take the lead here. As I mentioned in last week's post, their "Kindle for the Web" service has a share feature but they need to extend it so that readers can tweet links to specific locations within the book. Facebook proved long ago that recommendations are much more valuable when they come from your friends rather than strangers; e-reader apps could drive more e-book sales using the same philosophy. They also need to incorporate their affiliate program to further incent readers to tweet these excerpt links.