When I told my friends this news, those who work in the publishing business were distraught and those who love reading the traditional way vowed that books will never be conquered by the bits and bytes of e-readers like the Nook, the Kindle, and others. Another nail in the coffin of print media? Another skirmish in the ever escalating war between Print and Electronic Distribution? Publishers have some legitimate concerns about loss of revenue, but I think they need to embrace the opportunities that e-readers provide rather than pray for their demise.
E-readers are not the enemy, but an ally. The Kindle should not be treated as a competitor who will steal market share, but as a partner that can build audience and establish new markets, reaching new readers.
I previously wrote about titles in the public domain – you can also find very affordable bestsellers, newspapers, magazines, and even blogs, all available for quick download on the Kindle.
I blogged about the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX months ago and even wrote about comparisons to the Nook. Now having used a new Kindle firsthand, I can honestly say that the Kindle provides a very enjoyable reading experience. It’s still a work in progress, and Amazon welcomes suggestions on how to improve the product. I look forward to the day when a standard for electronic e-books is agreed upon by the industry so all electronic files can be shared, no matter the device, just as print books are. The threat of piracy will need to be addressed, and business models will need to be perfected, but e-readers did not invent copyright infringement. If nothing else, Amazon’s proprietary system at least is secure enough, it seems, to protect authors and publishers from having their work illegally duplicated.
Everyone seems to be jumping into the e-reader game and starting to take it seriously. The cream will rise to the top and bumps in the road will hopefully be leveled. I hope all the parties involved continue to recognize the benefits of portable devices like the Kindle, pursuing ways to make them better and key components of their businesses rather than treating them as rivals that need to be vanquished.