Are You Attached To Books?

Listening to Music = Reading
then do
CDs = Books
iPod = Kindle
iPhone = iPhone

For the past year and a half I’ve kept one eye on what’s going on in the Publishing World, in hopes that some day I would enter it. I follow music closely as well, and having seen the mess they’ve made in that industry over digital rights management, pirated music, and such, I’ve wondered how it will effect the Publishing World. Will book publishers learn from the mistakes that the music industry has made or are they doomed to repeat them? Or maybe the better question is, are there enough correlations between the two industries for Book Publishers to learn anything at all?

Like many of you, I own an iPod (2 actually, and an iPhone) and listen to most of my music on a computer (either my Macbook or my iPod) as opposed to on a CD. Also like many of you, I do not own a Kindle yet. I prefer to read words in a physical book, and not off an e-reader. Will that change? Probably. I think you’d be foolish to think that it won’t, despite how attached to physical books you might be. I mean, maybe it won’t change for us…but what about the next generation?

I bring this all up because yesterday’s New York Times had an article about Google and Amazon putting more books on cellphones. Here’s the money quote, in my opinion:

Also Thursday, Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones. The company, which is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle next week, did not say when Kindle titles would be available on mobile phones.

“We are excited to make Kindle books available on a range of mobile phones,” said Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon. “We are working on that now.”

As an avid iPhone user, I think this might be the first step to get me walking in the direction of reading books on a screen as opposed to bleached wood pulp. I can picture it now…I’m waiting in the doctor’s office and I’ve just been told they are 40 minutes behind schedule. Not interested in reading Woman’s Day or National Georgraphic, I pull out my iPhone and open up where I left off in the latest Malcolm Gladwell book. Hm. Having my reading material with me all the time? Sounds like a convenience I’d at least want to check out.

Would the small screen of the iPhone be too bothersome? Maybe. Would I miss the look and feel of a book? Probably. What if my battery is low? I don’t know. All I can say is I’m pretty sure at some point in the future the book industry will look a lot like the music industry looks right now. Yes, there will still be books and bookstores – just like there are still CDs and music stores – but many of us will be knee-deep in the transition from physical to electronic media for our novels and nonfiction titles.

Will that be in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? I don’t have the answers, of course, and at this point I’m not sure anyone does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate…So, what do you think?

Where do you think the world of Book Publishing is headed?

How long will it take for e-readers (like Kindles and cellphones) to be as popular as printed books?

At what point will you adopt the new format? Or, will you?