Amazon recently introducted the Kindle, which is sold out as of now. As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com has already said – “The Book is the last bastion of Analog”.
Well in hindsight, one could say that this was bound to happen. One can now carry along, almost all the books – wherever one likes (especially when one does not want to stuff the travel bag)
No wonder, The Economist compared it to the iPod. After all music is for entertainment and so are many of the books we read! And while we enjoy carrying all of our music wherever we go, why would we not want to do the same with our books? Thus logically there might not be any reason not to compare iPod and Kindle, or is there?
The counter thought, however could well be – “do we need to carry 200 (or even 10) books?” Unlike music, where we like to listen from a large library, depending on our mood, the average reader of a book reads one or maximum two books at the same time.
Think about it. With the Counter argument, I’m not too sure books will be able to be tools of mass consumption. They never have been!
With that thought in mind, I would like to speculate a bit with respect to what the ‘future book’ will look like.
First i want to identify the generic benefits that books provide to readers. I think the generic benefits that all books seek to provide is ‘a broader vision, and deeper insight’.
Keeping that in mind, i have observed that a lot of individuals who buy books often do not understand very clearly what the author seeks to communicate – true some things have to be left to the imagination but i am talking about issues where readers cannot gauge correctly the author’s picture and thus cannot ‘feel’ what the author ‘feels’. If more readers can get closer to what the author percieves then they will benefit a lot more from the entire experience of reading.
Now that takes me to the next point – this cannot happen in the current form that books exist in. So i think yes, books will go the Kindle way, only with more ‘touch and feel’ aspects.
Obviously once books go electronic there is the opportunity to ‘value add’ with multimedia and get the user closer to what the author percieves.
I also think that there will be customization of books. Users will be able to buy chapters but I also think that customization can go to the next level where an author can actually customize a book for a consumer (or an intermediary can do that) with respect to his or her profession/ preferences etc. With the Internet and more direct distribution platforms, there is the opportunity for publishers to custom make a ‘book’.
So I see an opportunity for a Finance book being custom written for Rajiv Dingra the entrepreneur, where only those elements of finance that are relevant to him will be given in the book with a few value additions to make the book more ‘understandable’ to him.
Remember also, that the Internet as a delivery platform has lower lead times
With electronic books I also see the opportunities for interactivity. One obvious feature of interactivity could be such where within the electric book itself, readers can set up chats or videoconferences with the author via reservations and discuss the book. This can also ensure that consumers actually benefit more than just the actual content of the book (which would be available for free on the internet otherwise). Such a feature could again get the reader closer to the mindset of the author.
Finally i also see options for networking via e books. Books with specific subjects can auto sign readers onto networks (from the Kindle kind of ebook itself) where they can meet other readers with similar interests and share ideas, have a platform for discussion. Another value add that will give users incentives ‘not to pirate’ and also make them ponder on content a little more. Although networks can also be quite distracting.
To sum it up i think books will do more with less. E books will open up a host of possibilities. The danger is that if the publishing industry does not innovate, people will read only pirated material. The innovations however have to be low cost.
What do YOU think a book will be like 5 years from now?