Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Death of the Internet

Believe it or not there are publishers and book sellers out there who dream of the death of the Internet. They see it as an annoyance which has eaten into their margins rather than a tool to extend their boundaries. They view the onset digital media in the same fashion. The only thing that puzzles me is why mobile content is not more popular. The current buzz for the Kindle may the start of something exciting but somehow I don't think the Kindle is going to be Amazon's iPod. Though as a publisher believe me I would love it to be. Having just experienced a trip to the US, I managed to devour a book through the seven hour flight and looking around the flight deck found many other travellers engrossed in hardbacks, paperbacks, magazines and good old newspapers. There was not one electronic reader in sight. A few things struck me almost immediately:

  • Though there was a decent onboard entertainment system, printed matter was still an option taken by near 100% of those able to read, at some point during the flight
  • Convenience - The ability to open and close a book, read between naps or the sumptuous in-flight meals without having to power down to conserve batteries
  • The ability to read during take off and landing for those with a phobia of flying. The Kindle would at present have to remain safely stowed away with your hand luggage
  • My book was never under the threat of running out of power
  • During turbulance spilling coffee over my book only dampened a few pages the Kindle would not have faired so well
I mention this not because I am one of those technophobes merely that the current practicalities of owning an electronic reader make it less desirable than holding a three hundred page novel. Maybe ten years down the line I will look around the plane to be greeted by readers holding a Kindle V9.0 who are actually downloading content by plugging into the aircraft entertainment system. That would be cool. Even cooler would be the onboard POD machine turning out paperbackes. Either way there are two things which will remain constant the printed page and the Internet. The only thing that will change will be how we access both.