There is no question that we are undergoing major change in the world of entertainment. The rate of change is both rapid and glacial. What is absolutely certain is that the next generation will consider our ways quaint and overly complex. They are growing up with a new set of expectations — and it is those expectations that publishing companies should start meeting now.
How many publishers are working to make sure ebooks can easily be read on the iPhone?
I’ve been talking about this for a while, but was reminded yesterday of the importance of planning for the future. While many are looking at the online habits of 25-year olds, it is probably more instructive to seek out a few 18-year olds for balance. Heck, try a 14-year old. Learn what he or she knows.
Starting with the expectation that media — whatever kind — will be accessible on demand. For my money, no matter what cool this or that is launched by major entertainment media, it’s the YouTube model that exemplifies today’s environment. Love it, hate it, don’t understand it, YouTube works. You don’t have to do anything special to access programming. This “just works” ability is what today’s consumer desires…and it’s the base level expectation of today’s youth.
Spending money for this convenience is not as much of an issue. The time and effort required to acquire media factors into consumer decisions to engage in illegal downloads. Forcing consumers to jump through hoops — downloading special software, undergoing extensive registration, or, as happened to me, forcing an unnecessary authorization process to protect digital rights management policies…only to have the authorization process be “down for the next few hours” — is not the way to stop piracy.
In fact, my decision when I couldn’t get Adobe’s Digital Editions to authenticate was not (as suggested by an Adobe employee) to spend time and energy on the phone trying to solve their problem. I decided I’d simply not bother at all. I’d already put too much effort into the project, not to mention my actual purchase of ebooks. As the customer, I just wanted to read a book. I had no desire to download and install software. I didn’t want to go through another process. And I certainly didn’t want to make a phone call.
It’s just easier to not buy the books at all.
This leads, rather smoothly if I do say so myself, to another example of making consumers happy: the iPhone. As I noted way back when, the iPhone is optimally suited for ebook reading, though my thoughts were more speculative than based on experience. Since acquiring one, I’ve determined that it is indeed a good device for reading text. Not perfect — it’s no lounging on the couch with a book and a glass of wine, but I’m getting a lot of online reading done. Hardly any of it is done while I’m in traffic, naturally.
Quick show of hands: how many publishers out there are actively engaged in discussions with Apple to ensure that the iTunes store stocks and promotes ebooks? Making sure that the iPhone has the right technology to facilitate reading ebooks? Or heck, any other kind of text? How many of you are making your voices heard when it comes to making certain that iPhone customers are able to download and read books on their phones?
Ebooks can be read on the iPhone. The best solution, unfortunately, is also an unsupported solution; getting a reader requires downloading a third-party application. Apple is all “no, no, no” when it comes to this — and software upgrades generally break any unsupported third party apps. Reading on your iPhone is more trouble than it’s worth.
I’ve tried other workarounds — reading PDFs I’ve emailed to myself — but it’s just not working. An unnamed friend did install the third party app, and found himself with book during a blackout at work. While I do a lot of reading of websites (the Edge network is amazingly slow, but I am a patient soul) with my phone, where I’m really getting my money’s worth is reading RSS feeds; Google Reader has just made their iPhone interface even better, so the RSS experience is even better.
(Note to blog owners: full feeds would be nice. If you simply cannot bring yourself to do full feeds, make what you’re feeding enticing enough to encourage me to click through, not skip to the next item)
Right now, the iPhone is the number one lust object for mobile phone consumers. Getting books — or reading material — to users of iPhones should be a number one priority. I am quite certain that it’s in the works. Just wanted to make sure. You know how I am.