Making eBooks "The Next Big Thing"
2010 Predictions

All Things "E": Google, Kindle, Apple, Nook & More

Flat ereaderA trio of articles caught my eye this weekend, so I thought I'd offer links and my two cents on each:

Google Books on the Kindle.  I first reported on Google Editions back in October after attending our TOC Frankfurt event.  As I noted then, the Google spokesperson made it very clear the Kindle platform wouldn't be included in the Editions program.  The link at the beginning of this paragraph takes you to a short related article from Douglas McIntyre of DailyFinance.  McIntyre talks about the possibility of Google and Amazon working together to offer all Google Editions content on the Kindle.  I agree with him that this scenario is highly unlikely, at least the way things look today. 

But why does Google feel the need to make their content available in Amazon's Kindle store?  Why not just sell the Kindle-formatted .mobi files directly to customers and cut out the middleman (Amazon)?  The main reason comes down, once again, to the evil issue known as DRM.  Amazon had to deal with loads of FUD when they enlisted all the publishers currently participating in the Kindle platform.  Most are still scared to death of econtent in a world without DRM.  That's too bad.  At O'Reilly we sell all our ebooks without DRM and that part of the business continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  Even if Google can't convince publishers to completely abandon DRM they're a technology company who has more than enough talent to create a social DRM model as a middle-ground solution.  A couple of years of problem-free social DRM distribution might just be what publishers need to abandon DRM completely.

Apple Tablet Pricing.  Regular readers of this blog know I'm an Apple convert.  Rumors continue swirling about the Apple tablet device, also referred to as the iPad and iTablet.  The link at the beginning of this paragraph takes you to a PC World blog post by Jeff Bertolucci.  I've heard this device could cost as much as $1,200 but Bertolucci's article says $1,000.  Both of those numbers are too high for me, I'm afraid.  And yes, I realize new technologies generally come with high price tags but I'll sit on the sidelines till the second generation arrives if the first one is north of a few hundred dollars.

Immediate availability of 100K+ apps is great but the market for a $1,000+ device is pretty limited right now, particularly in the midst of a global economic crisis.  Perhaps Apple will strike a deal with a cell carrier like we're seeing some of the netbook manufacturers do.  Apple could offer an iPhone-like plan where tablet buyers commit to a 2-year wireless deal to reduce the up-front cost of the device.  If this becomes a reality I hope they go with multiple carriers, or someone other than AT&T.  Even though the blame was shifted to Apple in this recent NY Times article it didn't make me feel any better about AT&T.

CNET's Nook Review.  Finally, here's a very thorough review of B&N's new Nook device, courtesy of CNET.  I've embedded CNET's video review of the Nook below, so if you don't have the time to read their write-up be sure to watch the 3-4 minute video.

I had higher expectations from B&N on this.  The video below highlights the sluggishness of the interface; this was also clear in David Pogue's recent Nook review in the NY Times.  I can't believe B&N would distribute the Nook before fixing this glaring problem.  On the plus side, I hope they take advantage of the Nook's Android OS and create an app store model like Apple has done for the iPhone (and Amazon hasn't for the Kindle).

P.S. -- Speaking of e-devices, the tablet demo from Time/SI featured in this blog post by Michael Hyatt is the most exciting thing I've seen in a long time.  Sure, it's just a video but boy, if they can produce this in 2010 and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg it could be an enormous hit.


Al Katkowsky

Is it the going assumption that App Store apps will be available for the Tablet, or is this just on everyone's "wish list"?

If "yes", I boldly predict diminished use of the "shake" function. But you never know.

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