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Books as naked conversations

KindlePerhaps you’ve already heard about Amazon’s new ereader device called the Kindle

Given the amount of press, both good and bad, it has received, including about 3,000 words in Newsweek, I suspect maybe you’ve heard something about it.

On the surface it’s a way to store and read books, much like Sony’s Reader launched over a year ago. It uses a patented E-Ink technology that makes reading on the screen seem much like reading a book. Much of the talk about this product centers on the long running debate about whether people will ever give up books or magazines in favor of electronic devices.

I think that debate will rage for years, but the point that I haven’t hear enough discussion on is whether this type of device will actually impact the way books are created, much like blogs changed the way web sites were created.

The major difference between the Kindle and every other device that allows you to read books is that the Kindle is connected wirelessly to the web on a network that’s independent of hot spots.

Now, let’s say you overhear some folks discussing a book during your commute home. A few clicks later the book is on your Kindle, for around $10 bucks, and you’re reading as you’re riding the train. That should do well with our “instant gratification isn’t fast enough” culture.

Here’s where I think it gets interesting. For a small fee, a Kindle user can now go online and read daily newspapers, blogs and magazines. Much of this content is available already, some for free, but a Kindle user can take it all with them and read, much like the printed versions, asynchronously. (Yes, you can get the Duct Tape Marketing Blog Kindle edition)

But, here’s where I think it really get interesting. I believe we may see a shift in the way books are actually created, particularly non-fiction books. If I, as a marketing coach, wanted to add updates and lessons to a book about marketing, I could easily do this through an electronic device that’s always on. Authors could very easily enter into public conversations about their work and how to apply it much like we do now with our blogs and the readers of those blogs.

Think about the value that could be added to a book. In fact, if publishers don’t think about this as the next frontier of how books will stand out and be measured, look out. Eventually, right or wrong, everything ever written will be available like this, the secret will be finding ways to enhance the experience with interaction and with conversations that are open, transparent and relevant. (Sound familiar?)

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  • Stephan Miller

    I think that authors are missing out if they are only using traditional methods of getting their books published.
    Ebooks are only in their infancy.

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  • Adam Darowski

    Sounds like the printed book could then be much like printing the Word doc of your company’s business plan. It is a physical copy of that version of an evolving document. Some books do this with updated editions, but this would be a much more dynamic process. Would be a huge help for schools that get stuck studying from books that still contain the USSR.

  • Amy Vercruysse

    Very interesting indeed! And how about if the readers and other experts in the field are also allowed to insert their own opinions, comments, etc? There’s really no limit is there?

  • Zvi Landsman

    Amazing thinking-outside-the-box. Unfortunately, I suspect it will be slow to catch on, as revolutionary ideas usually are.

  • Bob Uva

    O’Reilly Publishing, the premier technical book publisher, has been forward-thinking in this area for years. They started their Safari service for reading books online, maintaining an online bookshelf, allowing public comments on book sections, etc. Having an army of early adopter geeks has helped them because we love to test the waters with new technology.