The Kindle is a great device. It’s owners are by and large satisfied with their purchases and no one will argue that the Kindle makes eBook reading anything but a breeze. But what about the eBooks themselves? Is the format innovating at the same pace as the devices we read it on?
There’s a great Op-ed at Computer World about how eBook publishing could be improved. It isn’t an attack on the Kindle, or other eReader devices, but more a critique on the eBook publishing industry. The largest point of the article is that publishers should offer bundles where a customer can buy all versions of the book (physical, eReader, mobile phone, audio) for one discounted price. The full list of suggestions is:
- Bundles of all book versions
- On the fly revisions/corrections to books
- Audio books that can be borrowed (Sony will be supporting loans of eBooks, but there is no word for the future of audio books)
- Social networks created around each book’s reader base
- Early release for the eBook edition
- Make audio books cheaper
I agree with these arguments for the most part, but I want to point out that Amazon already does some of this. You can’t get audio books as part of a bundle, but audio books have to go through a whole extra set of production in addition to the physical/digital versions. Amazon does let you, however, buy books for the Kindle and then access the same books on your mobile phone. Whispernet will even keep your current page number synced between devices, so transitioning back and forth is effortless. Also, Kindle additions can have corrections made to them without buying a new edition.
I would however like to see some sort of digital tie in with physical book sales. You can walk into a record store and buy a new album on vinyl, and half the time it will include a code to download a free digital version. The music itself has already been paid for and the record label can eat the minuscule overhead that digital downloads add. Why can’t Amazon throw in the Kindle version for free every time someone buys a physical book? Not only would the cost to them be relatively small, but it would also encourage customers to take a closer look at eReader devices.