A tale of two sides?

I read Kelly’s recent post about a new e-reader joining the market place with interest.  I’ve been at Beyond Distance for over a month now and while getting to grips with the Sony E-reader I feel like I’ve been seeing, reading and hearing about e-readers everywhere, including seeing my first e-reader out and about being used by a man on the train.   Not that I’m complaining, to be able to figure out the details of how best to create an e-book and what works and what doesn’t and more importantly why not is something that could occupy me for hours.

To see another article in the Metro on the 16th September about e-readers made me realise that it wasn’t just me seeing e-readers everywhere it really is an emerging market and waiting to be embraced fully.  In my last post I mentioned a previous Metro article about Sony E-readers and while you might think I’m being commissioned by them to promote the Metro and E-readers I’m really not it’s just that a free paper to read on the train is hard to resist.

One of the points in the article that caught my attention was ‘Has publishing, a conservative industry learned its lesson from the music industry’s slowness in moving from selling CDs to selling online?’. The music industry is still adapting to selling online and issues of file sharing are likely to rage on for some time to come.  It seems that the publishing industry is trying to move forward but is also getting bogged down in some similar problems. You only have to look back at the article and within the first paragraph it mentions that ‘British licensing restrictions mean users here will only have access to 500,000 titles rather than the whole 2 million’.  Google as one of the driving forces in the online e-book shop market are still struggling with restrictions and are currently facing more legal action.

But with the technology already out there and being developed by the day the other side of the tale is that the demand for e-books is there and will carry on increasing and to refer back to the Metro article again if the price is right people will buy this technology and further increase its market.  According to the Guardian 52% of US print publishers are distributing content on mobile devices which again suggests that the demand is there, but will the demand overtake the ability to distribute books without any restrictions?  Obviously there are a great deal of e-books out there already that can be distributed but if a buyer of e-books has restricted choice due to licensing how long will it be before they want a solution? Creating your own e-books from online material is a possibility but with this process, at present, being one for the more technical people will it lead to a diminished uptake of what could arguably be the next big thing?

Emma Davies

Learning Technologist

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