Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is Publishing Game For Something Different?

So in a week that there has been much industry debate about the Stanza, Fictionwise hook up on the iPhone we saw a far more interesting move that received scant coverage. Games giant Nintendo is to release a cartridge containing one hundred out-of-copyright book titles including works by Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte and Dumas. These will be able to be read on its portable games console and offer yet another digital alternative.

Nintendo say that their devices, which have two screens, can be held as a book with the stylus being used to turn and bookmark pages, search for texts and zoom.

The cartridge will be priced at £17.99 in the UK and offers a clear price shift from the expensive ereaders on the market today. Nintendo intimate that further titles will be available for download using the console’s WiFi connection and appear to be serious in their offer to their considerable user base.

Forget whether the books are the right ones, forget whether the screen offers the best reading, even forget who is the biggest games player, the point is that this move signals that convergence is rife. Games consoles could offer a safer bet than the eink readers and at a cheaper price point. They clearly offer an established community and the opportunity for existing users to merely extend their cartridges. The games environment could offer some interesting opportunities to mix text, manga and games.

Many say they want to increase the number of people reading and capture the young who they believe are being pulled towards online and games but how many will see this as an opportunity and how many dismiss it out of pure snobbery. We only hope that the venture moves forward, publishers embrace it as an opportunity to experiment and other players such as Sony and Microsoft follow.

Interesting times!

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