Neville Hobson

Signs of the times for the future for e-books

kindle-booksI have a Kindle, the digital e-book reader from Amazon who launched the third-generation model last year. Actually, my whole family has Kindles. We also have stacks of printed books. We’re not especially wedded to format, more the content and that content being available to us in formats we like, aren’t too expensive and are convenient to use.

Basically, we’re big on books and other content – which includes magazines and blogs – however they’re offered, not platforms and delivery formats. That said, there’s something quite compelling about a device that weighs less than a pound that can hold 3,500 digital books, and that lets you make comments and annotations on what you’re reading (I love that feature) and share them online if you wish

So while a debate goes on about print vs digital, news came from Amazon a few days ago that Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined.

In its press release on May 19, Amazon includes some choice metrics:

Does this look like a trend that spells the demise of traditional print? Some may argue so. Personally, I don’t think so – as long as the business of traditional print evolves to match the changes in market conditions that technology has brought about, in a big picture sense, as well as changes in people’s habits and preferences about content consumption that devices like Kindle and tablet computers (think of the iPad especially) have enabled.

There are some very interesting developments that show how print and digital could live in harmony for the foreseeable future. How libraries might evolve, for instance, and offer e-books on loan as they do with traditional printed books. Or lend a book directly to a fellow Kindle user.

These are brilliant ideas and I look forward to the day when I can do that in the UK. In the meantime, time to browse the Kindle Store for another book…

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