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Emerging Digital Reading Solutions

16/07/2012

 

 

  The top five major publishers in the world call e-books the future of reading.  The rapid development of e-readers and tablets further illustrate the direction of consumer interests.  Now with technology like tablets, which are both a reader (without an e-ink screen) and everything else, reading is completely integrated with other actions like posting updates on facebook or watching a movie.   

  But there are minuses with digital media.  The demise of blockbuster and other video rental businesses is the result of competitors like Netflix and online piracy.  Piracy is a major threat facing all types of products that are available electronically.  Print media is now becoming more susceptible because it is often available in an electronic format.    

  To prevent copyright violation, library customers typically use the Overdrive Media app to view digital materials from a library.  It uses digital rights management (DRM) to prevent numerous devices from opening the same file.  At the moment DRM does this in conjunction with an Adobe ID. What is interesting is that the use of reading apps at libraries may be foreshadowing a growing trend.

  Small publishers, and especially graphic novel publishers, have caught onto this and have built apps to deliver their books.  The Reading Rainbow and Smartercomics are successful examples of companies and authors using the app infrastructure.  This infrastructure is often critiqued because it is like a sandbox with giant walls that limit freedom.  However, limits are sometimes are necessary to crystallize innovation, like rules do in an improv game.  The emergence of the app markets has transformed our economy and provided opportunity for developers, artists and even authors!

  It will be interesting to see if apps will be a more permanent home for books as more people make the switch to digital.  The architecture of the app system (Apple’s, at least) deters piracy because it is closed and controlled system, but remains convenient and costs are generally low (a few dollars an app). It seems like an effective compromise that benefits customers, businesses and authors.  Would you make the switch to digital books?  Why would it benefit you to do this?