Innovation in an Era of Upheaval: The E-reader Wars

This is a 57-minute long video, so take some time before watching it.  There are 4 panelists and a moderator that talk about content, media, and the future of reading.  It’s interesting, but in some cases, I feel like the panelists may be missing the point, and missing the future.  I was most intrigued by the comments of the woman from NPR, because she is less tied to formats and the establishment than some of the others are.  One of the panelists is an investment banker and consultant, one is from Reuters, one is part of a company called Skiff.

My biggest problem with some, not all, of the comments and ideas floated is that they really aren’t innovative.  We are still thinking of the future through the lens of the past.  The person from Skiff was talking about pagination as important for ebooks.  Why?  Market research?  People only think they are more comfortable with pages because that is our current experience.  People will undoubtedly be more comfortable with whatever comes next.  “Next” probably won’t resemble anything that we see now.

They also talk about advertising.  The panel recognizes that banner ads don’t work, but present no viable alternatives.  They talk about full pages like in magazines attached to ebooks or emagazines.  Rich video advertising.  But they never really acknowledge one audience member that questioned the very existence of the advertising model.  The moderator said that everything just falls apart without advertising.

Intriguing stuff, nonetheless.  My favorite idea was that short stories and other shorter forms of media that were screwed under the book/novel model of publishing can see new life thanks to micropayments and electronic media.

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