Last May I decided to stop buying Kindle ebooks. I had already amassed a nice Kindle library but I felt it was time to move on, particularly since B&N was about to release the industry's first eInk device with built-in lighting. I bought their Nook with Glowlight on day one and proceeded to buy my ebooks from them. Over the past year I've occasionally bought ebooks from Google Play as well.
About six months ago I ditched that Nook eInk device and decided to do all my reading on my Nexus 7 tablet. I've been using the Nook app for Android since then and have grown increasingly frustrated with how long it takes to load longer books. Then I opened the latest version of the Kindle app on my Nexus and was blown away. It's so much nicer than the Nook app.
Since I'm no longer employed by a book publisher I also decided it's OK to start acting like all those other consumers who have flocked to Amazon for the best prices. I figure if most publishers aren't going to stand up and call a predator a predator, why should I? :-) The simple truth is the industry needs to change and that's exactly what's happening. The rate of change is just much faster (and painful for publishers) because Amazon is able to dictate so many of the new rules. As an outsider I'm starting to think maybe that won't be such a bad thing in the end. (Quite a change of opinion, don't you think?)
The result is I now have an ebook library that spans the platforms of Amazon, B&N and Google. I could use a tool like Calibre to break all the DRM and convert the files so they can be read on any platform. That's a hassle though. What I'd rather do is simply read any book in one reader app without breaking the law or going through a conversion process.
That concept might become more than a dream before too long. I'm told by ReDigi CEO John Ossenmacher that his team is working on a universal ereading app. You might have heard of ReDigi. It's the platform that lets you resell your digital music today and is planning to offer the same service for your ebooks tomorrow. John tells me that the ReDigi ereader app won't break any DRM and it will allow consumers to read all their ebooks from multiple retailers in one place. So no longer will you have to remember whether you bought that last ebook from Amazon or Google. You'll have your entire library in the ReDigi bookshelf and will be able to read them on a tablet without switching apps.
Sounds too good to be true, right? I would tend to agree, but John's team is pretty impressive and I wouldn't bet against them.
Let's assume for a moment that this universal ereading app is something consumers would opt into. You'd download it, tell it to scan your computer/tablet/phone/whatever and let it determine which of your ebooks were legitimately purchased from a major retailer or publisher. It would then move all those books into the ReDigi bookshelf where you could both read them and resell them. Kindle books would be on the same virtual shelf as Nook books, just like they should be.
Would consumers warm up to this platform? Would publishers? And is it possible that the downward pricing pressure would ease up a bit when consumers realize their ebooks will have finally have some resale value?