In case you hadn’t noticed, ebook sales are rocketing up and up and up. (Well, it is my field, so I have.) Just in order to buy an ebook from Amazon, you have to first buy a $360 Kindle; yet in little more than a year, 10 percent of Amazon’s total book sales were ebooks. Of course, its book catalog includes millions of different titles, but only 300,000 or so are available as ebooks. For titles sold in both p and e, the ebook portion is already 35 percent.
This is relevant, I think, because the Internet Tablet — with its 225-pixel-per-inch screen resolution — has always suggested itself as a top-rank ereader.
Is this really viable or am I delusional (as often before about ebooks)?
French ebook maker Bookeen says three different ebook markets are forming: one for education (eg, must have big screen), one for general book reading and one for reading both book and newspaper-y content. These last two, for convenience sake, Bookeen dubs the “book iPod” and the “book iPhone.” A “book iPhone” necessarily includes a 3G or WiFi connection, else content can’t be kept fresh.
Amazon, of course, straddles all three markets, with its 10-inch Kindle DX and free-3G, thin-as-a-pencil Kindle 2. Critically, you can read Kindle-DRMed ebooks on an iPhone as well; and Amazon just acquired the Stanza ereader, the hugely successful iPhone app.
It’s easy for me to say the Kindle and Stanza apps belong on the Internet Tablet, but who here knows what Amazon will do?
The Nokia N810 fits in your pocket, already runs Flash, has a keyboard and that 800-pixel-wide screen, and includes built-in WiFi. It equals or surpasses the iPhone as an ereader in every respect except one — walkaround connectivity. But Amazon’s success hinges in part on the synching between different ereading devices, and the lack of 3G could blackball the N810 as an Amazon platform.
Next generation then. If people at Nokia think the billion-dollar ebook market could boost the NIT too, I hope they get Amazon on the phone.
Some 2.2 million people are going to be buying an awkward monochrome, monopurpose device like the Kindle — this year and next — just so they can feed their reading habit. Think how many would be happy paying their money for a full-color, Flash-capable, pocket-size Internet Tablet. It’s got to be a lot, I think.