So, yeah, you’re thinking that the Apple announcements yesterday were interesting. You’re thinking, wow, I didn’t want to spend a month’s worth of book money on a phone, but, hey, they lowered the price. Or maybe you’re thinking you didn’t need a new phone. But everyone can use an iPod. Especially since iPods are now more versatile than ever.
Put on your magic thinking cap and make the best of this technology.
I mean, to be more versatile, they’d have to work in the shower.
I admit it. I wanted an iPhone for my birthday. Didn’t get one. Okay, fine. But, through one of those twists of fate that can only be called fortuitous, the battery on my iPod has decided that it’s simply not interested in this mortal coil. At the same time, I’m seeing my super-cute pink phone as a liability. How can you take me seriously when my phone is pink*?
Practical is (almost) my middle name. Great timing, never my forte, has shone upon me. When Steve Jobs announced the new “i” product line, I can well imagine that every person in the book industry sat up and took note. Finally, we all said, a product for us!
Truly, nobody was left out of the food chain. Except maybe distributors, but that’s only until the inevitable hacks come online. Do not worry, people who get the books from the publishers to the customers. Your day is nigh.
Let us count the ways the new iPod can make book people happy (most apply to the iPhone too, plus you can call your mother):
Readers: Ah readers, the people who keep this whole crazy business afloat. How often have you been out shopping, only to find that you are unable to make an informed decision: this book or that book? Well, let’s glance at our most trusted website and get the necessary information. Ah, that book.
A transaction well done.
Readers can use the native WiFi connectivity to connect to the web, check email (provided the email is web-enabled), and find information. This is good for readers. It’s also good for…
Authors: Hello. YouTube enabled right out of the box. Book trailers, check. Also, remember the iTunes store supports PDF files. Oh my, the possibilities are endless. Your blog? Just a browser address away. And what are the people saying about your new book? Let’s check with the…
Reviewers: It’s all very well and good when someone is sitting safely at her desk, reading your profound analysis of a novel. But isn’t even sweeter when that person is standing in a bookstore, trying to make a major decision. Your words of wisdom can lead to a purchase of a book, in real time. Is there any greater joy than knowing you’ve given back to an author who gave you so much (or, perhaps, is there any greater joy than knowing you saved a reader ten bucks…while steering said reader to something much more worthy?)?
Finally there is a device that brings together the holy trinity: readers, reviewers, and…
Booksellers: Dudes, WiFi. Offer it. Make sure your customers can connect to the web and find books. Then you can sell them stuff. I mean, who can walk into a bookstore and walk out empty-handed? Nobody.
Make sure your store is iPodTouch/iPhone friendly. That person who looks like he’s sending illicit text messages? He’s really checking out the title of William Gibson’s latest book (Spook Country, unless you’re reading this in the future). Look…there he goes, over to the correct spot in your store.
Ah, life is good.
Hmm. Seems like I forgot somebody. You have readers, authors, reviewers, booksellers, ah, right…
Publishers: This is it, kids, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Finally you can be part of the fab online world. You have the technology — and the means to bring together all of the elements that lead to the goal. Yes. Books and customers. Has there ever been a better moment than this?
Think about it. Content, video, audio, links, more links, more audio, more video, more content. The iTunes store. Magic. Gives you chills, doesn’t it?
There are some catches here; there are always catches. All of you crazy kids who thought that optimizing your website for some obscure version of Internet Explorer was the be-all and end-all of HTML? Clean up your code. Make sure you look like a million buck in Safari, the native browser (ah, Apple, throw the Firefox contingent a bone…Safari is, well, nice, but Firefox? You could rule the world.).
You need to think freedom (and, if you’re believing you’ll make a bundles on wireless charges, free). You need to put on your magic thinking cap and look at how you can make the best of this technology without veering into the world of obnoxious.
Also, remember that as much as we all like to pretend it isn’t so, there are only so many shopping days until the major gift-giving season is upon us. Think of all those bright and shiny and happy faces opening their new iPods/iPhones/possibly cooler device to be released between now and then. Don’t you want to be part the magic?
* – Of course, knowing how much I spend on shoes, how can you take me seriously at all?