09 February 2010

“It’s Already In My Pocket” Appeal

From a posting by Andrew Karre at CarolRhoda Books on the future of books:

Now that every carrier has what David Pogue calls an app phone on one of the three major platforms (Apple, Android, and Blackberry—four if you count Windows Mobile) and now that they’re competing on price, I suspect we’ll see more teens with phone capable of downloading ebooks from retailers and libraries.

Teens are used to text on LCD screens, and I don’t think they’re likely to respond to the “it looks like paper” appeal of Kindle’s epaper nearly as much as they’re going to respond to the “it’s already in my pocket” appeal of a smartphone.
The “in my pocket” factor also affects the appeal of the new but backpack-sized iPad for readers who still have eyes good enough to read long texts on smartphone screens. And that device still has an adult price as well.

I think Karre is correct that the “feels like a book” factor isn’t that important, especially for younger readers. Last year I used my PDA to reread Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows for the first time since childhood—a Gutenberg text, nothing with special formatting. It was an odd experience, but I don’t think that was a result of the mix of forward-looking book format and backward-looking book. That’s just a weird book.

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