Friday, December 21, 2007

Amazon Can Empty Bookstore Shelves

Will the Kindle UI be accepted vs. a book? ...

"The Kindle might just be the iPod of digital reading, according to one author, who predicts the device will improve the publishing landscape for all except retailers.

Few things have come along in recent years to excite me more as a reader and author than the Kindle digital-book platform just introduced by Amazon.com (AMZN). I have one ordered, but even before using it, my mind is buzzing with how to make full use of the platform for my next tome.

As the author of two books—Getting the Bugs Out: The Rise, Fall, and Comeback of Volkswagen in America and Driven: Inside BMW, the Most Admired Car Company in the World—the first issue I have to sort out is whether I need a publisher at all for my upcoming titles. That is a game-changing development in the world of publishing, and one that will take the industry time to digest.
Publishing Sans Publisher?

Are there ways to publish digital books now without the Simon & Schusters and Little, Brown & Co.'s of the world? Sure. We have seen experiments by some big-time authors publishing serialized books on the Net—Stephen King famously published a serial, The Plant, on his Web site for a subscription cost of $7. Lesser-known authors have done the same, but we all know how tough it is for such writers to build an audience without the imprimatur of a large publishing house.

And, of course, the Sony (SNE) Reader, which stores e-books, has been available for some time. But the interface is not very good and Sony is remarkably inept at marketing it. Let's remember there were MP3 players before Apple's (AAPL) iPod, but it took a brilliant user interface, design, and mystique created around the product for people like me to abandon CDs for digital music.

Timely and Feature-Rich Content

Publishing digitally into an attractive user interface is akin to finding a car that is powerful and gets 40 miles per gallon. My next book, in fact, is likely going to be about a car company undergoing a huge transformation to secure its survival. The time window in which I am writing, though, is awkward.

There will probably be a four-month lag time between final proofs, based on reporting that had to be completed three months earlier, and the time the book goes on sale. At that point, a lot will still be going on with the company's story. If I was publishing just digitally, I could write up to the week of the book's release, and save all those trees from the paper mill at the same time. As is, I will have to settle for releasing a "dead trees" book, which will also be distributed as an e-book that will be more up-to-date with added features.

And then there are the pictures. In my first two books, I was limited to eight pictures on two pages stuck in the middle of the book. This is done for cost reasons, as publishing four-color pictures throughout a book, which is what I wanted, is much more expensive. With a Kindle book, I can drop in as many pictures as I want throughout the book. I can also include video interviews, an audio slide show, and podcasts as part of the book's maintenance package."    (Continued via Business Week)    [Usability Resources]

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