Saturday, February 6

The Great eReader Debate

You've all doubtless been reading the over-whelming articles on the launch of the iPAD, what it means, and what it doesn't mean, the MacMillan and scrimish this past's almost as overdone as the The Tonight Show shark scrimmage a few weeks ago. I won't bore you by throwing out links to blogs and articles you've already read.

However, here's a thought for all our publishers, online and offline retailers, and makers of Kindle, iPAD, and the Sony eREADER: get with your demographic and you'll find everything falls in to place! The industrys already tried to hit up commuters, agents, publishers, and reading afficionados who want their entire library held in their hand.

This is just my opinion, but they're all missing a huge target market, which would resolve the "what format are we using?" and "what the heck's DMR anyway"? questions.

We're still in the throes of the TWILIGHT SAGA phenomenon. Until publishers and eREADER manufacturers wake up and target the YA audience, we're all going to be fishing around for formats for years. High school and college students are the ones with their technology attached to their fingertips, quite literally. What if eREADERS became the latest gadget teens HAD to have? They'd be able to toss them in their bags along with their phones and if the content was accessible enough they'd have their full years worth of English texts on their iREADER. Plus Twilight, and whatever new teen phenomenom shows up. The payoff? YA authors would be in ecstasy,and publishers could quit squabbling over prices because the teen and college market would be grabbing up everything they could download. Remember the beginning of iTUNES? I rest my case!

Reading would be "cool" again, as teens everywhere competed to have the latest book on their eREADER. They might even expand their sights beyond the "have to" reads for school, and delve in to literature that broadens their outlook on the "printed" word. Schools could insist on students subscribing to national and international newspapers as part of their studies. The possibilities are endless.

A YA eREADER targeted at this new generation (and I'm including all my nieces and nephews from grade 9 to university) would be the best leg up the publishing world could have right now. Make it snazzy, colour it up with neon covers, throw in some cool Apps, and see what happens. I'd bet next Christmas would be very merry for parents who're praying their offspring could learn something else at school besides how to hide their cell phones from their teachers so they can text that gorgeous girl in the third row.

Hello, Mr. Jobs? Methinks you missed the boat on this one. I'm just saying.


  1. Laurie, Great post. As a former book store manager and current ereader software developer, I agree that the "early adopter" YA book consumer needs targeting to get ereader sales to the tipping point. I'm wondering why a facing screen reader 10" on the diagonal (letter-size folded) with additive/subtractive screens (Pixel Qi) wouldn't be more appealing than the iPad?

  2. Good job and good thoughts. Way ahead of me, though--I'm still living in terror I'm going to have to give up paper-and-ink books!

  3. I've never wanted a Kindle or whatever, but the other day when I was watching them unveil the iPad, I was intrigued, and for the first time ever, could see myself getting one.
    I don't know how one would go about marketing to the tweens, teens and collegers out there, but here's one old lady who wants to get with it!

  4. Let me just say, I LOVE my Sony Reader and always bring it along when I substitute teach, and the kids (mostly middle school) are wild about it when I explain what it is.

    Great post, and yes, there are a couple of ground-breaking high schools and colleges around the country currently using Readers and Kindles. The high school gives parents the option of NOT using the Reader, but then they have to pay $700 for textbooks!!! Given the price of print textbooks, a school could outfit students with Readers for much less moola. And that college is converting all its library onto Kindles, which the students can then check out, rather than the actual books.

    As for newer, bigger screens... for me... no way. My Sony Reader fits perfectly in my little purse and I can't see myself hefting around a 2nd bag just for a giant reading device. Plus, then you get into something heavy you can't hold as easily in your hands. My Reader goes everywhere with me, and comes out when I'm standing in line anywhere, which equals another opportunity to explain what it is. Like last week at the Dr.'s office when the receptionist got all excited about it!

    I totally agree though, get the kids onboard, and sales of the devices will skyrocket.

  5. Laurie,
    I'm like Liz in that I looove books. Real books. Browsing for books at the bookstore, the whole shabang. But your post me reconsider my thoughts, especially if they targeted schools so kids didn't have to lug around 40lb backpacks, what a great day that would be. My bestie just got the Nook and another friend has the Kindle and they both swear by them. Great post,btw

  6. I'm a kindle user and I love it, but I still read paperbacks too. I have one teenager in the house and he says the only reason he wouldn't buy an e-reader is because his iphone does everything an e-reader does. He can even download the amazon store and order books. He has several on his phone now. He's a book nut just like his mom.

  7. I'm a Kindle girl...almost got the Sony but Kindle gave me wireless I caved to the Amazon monster. That said, books are still my favorite. Curling up with my kindle just doesn't give me the same feeling...and the teens & 20-somethings I know (the ones who read for pleasure not just school) agree. Ebooks and ereaders and digital devices are great for convenience but they don't feel the same as my favorite books...

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