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It's a tough problem -- big media wants to get paid, but all of us normal people want to get everything for free. A nice format would be good, too. The apps we've seen to date have been multimedia-heavy, expensive (both in terms of $$ and storage), and a poor value compared to paper editions. Google Reader + Instapaper have replaced most of my paid subscriptions. It doesn't have to be this way ... but until something better comes along, that's what I'm doing. The longer I practice this behavior, the harder it will be to get back into paying for content.
Hi Joe, I couldn't disagree more. Perhaps you're seeing this issue through your publisher goggles? What would a retailer possibly get out of such a move? They'd only confuse their customers, dilute their brands, and drive sales to iBooks, their competitors. All these guys (B&N, Borders, Apple, Amazon, and Sony) are fighting for lock-in of future purchases. Right now, the book-buying public loses, which is a large part of why some people are hanging back from digital purchases. They're cozy and a fun place to hang out, but bookstores are destined to the same niche as chain-owned record stores. The main purpose of ebooks is to cut out the retail middleman and allow publishers to sell directly to readers. The retail bookstores are running out of gimmicks. Wifi and coffee bars aren't going to change the trends. I agree that the Nook and Kobo look lame, but I understand why they'd want to keep a toe in the competition. Both Borders and B&N are following Amazon's lead by having AppStore offerings while pushing their own hardware. Ereaders are going to continue to get cheaper, and supporting their own platforms gives all 3 companies some control over their content. The iPad is expensive and is too much computer for many bookstore customers. I've got a Kindle, an iPhone, and an iPad. I buy my books from Amazon because of price and selection, but also because I can read and sync across all my devices. The iPad is great but surely you can see that it's not for everyone. The whole market space reminds me of home computers in the early 1980s before DOS and then Windows became a de facto standard. Back then, it didn't make sense for a normal person to splash out for a proprietary $400 sound card for an Amiga. Nowadays, great digital sound is a cheap commodity included with anything you buy. Similarly, I think consumers are holding back until there's a clear, "safe" winner in the field. I think it's going to be Amazon for content and publishing. I don't think the hardware matters in the long run.
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Dec 16, 2009