As you may be aware by now, Amazon have announced that their Kindle ebook reader will now be available in 100 countries across the globe. Couple this announcement with Sony’s recently released readers and things are getting very interesting in the ebook world. Of course the Kindle news isn’t without a downside. It will only be available to UK users through the US website at a cost of £200 once import duties are taken into account. Sadly, affordable ereaders are still a pipe dream at the moment.
That said, it is still exciting news. With the imminent UK release of the Kindle we will see some much needed competition in the ebook market over here. Sony has been by far and away the market leader, holding a fairly dominant position in the market for sometime. The release of the Kindle could, however, lead to a price war with the cost of the hardware decreasing and the appeal of owning a machine increasing. An added benefit may well be an improvement on the retailing side of ebooks. The current offering is still pretty poor with prices still not markedly different from paper copies. A new name on the market (and a leader in the largest ebook market – the US), could kickstart a revolution in the retailing of ebooks and make for a fare better customer experience (I get rather frustrated with the current offerings, Waterstone’s in particular has a poor site), as well as reduced prices for ebooks.
I remain optimistic about the future of ebooks and, when getting people’s views on ebooks, I sense that there is a lot of interest in them once a number of problems have been resolved. I believe that they will really start to take-off once Amazon fully enters the market here. For that reason, I think it is essential for public libraries to get onboard (in a considered way of course) as soon as is feasible. How great would it be for users to be able to ‘borrow’ your books and take them on holiday with them without physically taking the book? Borrowers wouldn’t have to worry about either losing their book while they are away or the baggage allowance (although admittedly losing the reader would be a major worry – although not for the library as the books will not be lost!). As for the ability to alter the size of the font, the advantages for those that rely on large print books are obvious.
In response to the growing media interest in ebooks, I have set up a twtpoll to see what would convince people to invest in an ereader. The poll closes on Sunday and I will post the results at the beginning of next week.