Thursday, March 26, 2009
If you're a reader you have probably considered buying one of the new electronic book readers. There are two leading choices today: the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader and while good stats are hard to come by for Amazon sales, it appears that each have sold hundreds of thousands but more importantly that Amazon is leading in "cool factor".
But Sony is, like Apple, a master of the global brand and so their announcement with Google last week was a classic brand land grab. Sony and Google announced a partnership where Google's 500,000 free electronic books are now available on the Sony Reader. But unlike Apple which rigidly used iTunes to teach people to buy music for 99 cents , Google is known for free content so their role is very disturbing to publishers.
Books, like music, are critical to the rich, imaginative life we live in our heads. Authors, like singers and songwriters, need to get paid. Newspapers are in crisis because they did not work out a healthy online business model early enough. I hope the book business learns from the newspaper's mistakes so that it survives.
Disclosure: I have a Kindle 2 and love it. The cell network connection that allows me to buy a book anywhere and at any time feels like freedom to read whatever and whenever I want.