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Why the eBook has potential November 12, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Uncategorized.
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I made the mistake of mentioning to a colleague on the way back from a meeting the other day that I was currently reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes on my iPhone. Rather than be shocked at questionable literary tastes, he was, instead, appalled that I was reading a book on my phone.

A recent report by Flurry, a San Francisco based analytics firm, however indicates that I may not be alone, with 1% of the entire U.S population already reading a book on the iPhone in August ‘09. With the recent global launch of the Amazon Kindle and the availability of a PC version announced yesterday, the future of the printed word in my opinion looks bleak.

Stack of Books

Books are not just not that portable

Firstly, the cost of eBooks is considerably less than that of the physical version. The entire works of Sherlock Holmes cost me just £1.49 and a variety of classic tales, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Aesop’s Fables are free. I admit that the cost of more recent books are, in some cases, more expensive, however as publishers embrace this platform surely this will change?

Another great advantage is access. When previously I had finished a book I had to plan a trip to the local bookstore and walk around in the hope of something catching my eye, or in the event I knew what I was after, a copy actually being in stock. Anyone who has finished a book midway through a long journey will share my frustration at this arduous process. With the iPhone I can quickly scan, purchase and download a new book in a matter of minutes.

My phone weighs 133 grams and the average book weighs 340 grams. I can therefore carry hundreds of books on the 16GB memory of my iPhone and put it neatly in my pocket, whilst I would need a pull cart to carry the equivalent amount around the town. The latter would likely get a few odd glances on the train into work or in the local pub on a Friday night. eBooks are, in brief, very portable.

Apart from being convenient, I also feel that the rise of the eBook will actually benefit society. The internet has provided millions of people with access to a wealth of information and with the proliferation of mobile handsets this has been expanded to billions. The rise of eBooks represents a global library that will get digital natives interested in reading again (as shown by this Daily Telegraph article).

My last point and one that I know will interest the more eco-conscious of you – eBooks are environmentally friendly when compared to the long-term carbon footprint of its printed predecessor.

As our mobile handsets continue to evolve to an entertainment, information and communication hub for the masses, and both publishers and companies like Google embrace the market, I feel that that the printed book may fall, although not completely, by the wayside. My colleague did however get the last laugh on this occasion, my battery died halfway through the journey!