Thursday, September 06, 2007

eBooks - the Next Chapter

The gloves come off and the digital wars really start this year.

Amazon is set to launch the much hyped and long overdue Kindle ebook reader with rumours rife that this will be in October (surprise surprise Frankfurt). The rumours also predict the price at $400 to $500 and that it will wirelessly connect to an e-book store on Amazon’s site. The device will also connect and download books and periodicals, and browse the Web, without connecting to a computer. It also has a keyboard, so its users can take notes when reading or navigate the Web to look something up.

The real key issue is the use of the Mobibook format which is proprietary to Amazon and which raises the format war issues between OEB, Mobi and Adobe PDF. Publishers who backed a single format may find themselves having to revisit that decision. After all if Amazon can’t make ebooks work who can?

So Amazon enters the iTunes world for books, with a device, the catalogue, the connection and of course the brand.

Also, Google plans to do what we all new it would do and be a bookseller. It is strongly rumoured that it now plans to start charging users for full online access to the digital copies of books in its database. Publishers will set the prices for their own books and share the revenue with Google.

What it planed with the masses of content it has hovered up from every library in its content vacuum exercise remains to be seen but the likelihood that these will not sit alongside the current titles is hard to believe. We now sit back and wonder how many rights queries will be raised.

The hands of Steve Jobs who yesterday announced Apple’s new iPod and Microsoft and its book programme are still unclear but it seems inevitable that they will follow.