2010 is going to be flooded with too many ebook devices. Almost every electronics company, book retailer and publishers might launch their own devices. But would so many options leave all consumers happy and satisfied? Analysts predict there would be two kinds of happy e-book reader owners – consumers who paid a hefty amount for a branded ebook from one of the major online retailers (I obviously mean Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook etc) and consumers who spend only about $50-$70 on unbranded ebook readers that support a lot of formats and where consumers will have the potential of downloading pirated copies of ebooks. People who are left are the ones who land up buying the two-tier ebook readers and the makers of them-These people might just be the unsatisfied ones.
e ink based readers by most of the tech companies brings a new dimension to the entire ebook marketplace. I think it would not only increase confusion but also encourage privacy and bring down any company who gets in and can’t hack it against Nook or Kindle.
The competition over device design, platforms, formats, DRM will bring more and more confusion into consumers’ minds and it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between a good device from bad, a good (worthy) price from bad. In fact some might just emphasize cheap price over quality, interface and service.
2010 is going to see a multitude of new eBook devices being launched, lots of user feedback, experimentation and plenty of uncertainty over which platform to choose for the eReader device. But in order to plan and benefit from onslaught of new devices publishers needs to keep thier eye on 3 areas: distribution, design and revenue.
Different available formats and a business model that primarily befits the device makers over content suppliers makes it slightly confusing to plan a definite strategy. In this scenario, while exclusive deals with certain device companies might bring great luck to some publishers in general it may be more wise to not get locked with a single platform – (what if the device is not succesful?). Instead publishers should be planning to opt-in and push for more open platform deals that allow digital content to be shared across different platforms. Ideally, it would be in their interest if the drive is towards open platform that would support digital distribution across multiple forms (including eReaders, PCs and Smartphones)
Another key component for a good distribution strategy is to figure out the timing of digital edition vs print edition. Early accesibility to content is what user would love to get and this could be a big selling point for digital magazines, newspapers.
In order to come up with a winning strategy around digital publication, device makers and publishers will need a lot of input from the actual users of the product. As ink technologies get better, publishers will have an opportunity to create interactive and highly engaging publications (of course they might have to invest some resources in understanding how customers are using these ereaders and what are their expectations from digital publication.
There are few issues with the existing digital subscription model (as enabled by the ereader) – type of subscription (daily? monthly? annual?), revenue sharing system between distributor and content creator. Moreover publishers have already given Amazon as much as 70% of the subscription revenue that is coming through the Kindle store.
Publishers need to encash upon a couple of opportunities here: Device makers wanting to loop in bigger names will be more open to a more balanced(healthy) revenue share. Skiff (publisher-led innitiatives) is likely to give more subscription revenue into the content providers’ hands.