e-Book Echo: HTC to Unveil Reader

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Our platform focus continues this fine Sunday with the e-Book Echo, our take on the week in the digital publishing world. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is almost underway in Barcelona and word is leaking that smartphone maker HTC is going to introduce a new e-book reader as part of a new Sense update. The new program is reported to be named Reader, and leaked photos show it to be a typical application for displaying e-book content. There is an integrated bookshelf for handling content collections, and a screen shot of the application shows content from Borders and Adobe. We will no doubt hear more about the new Sense interface, and Reader, this week at the MWC.

The iPhone App Store has a lot of e-book content for sale, and publisher O’Reilly produces a fair bit of that content. They are selling a lot of e-books on the iPhone as they have recently blogged that they have sold more than 100,000 e-book apps in the store to date. The majority of these sales take place outside the U.S., with 54 percent of the sales taking place internationally. This demonstrates how important it is to understand that dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle and the Nook are not the only vehicles for driving the increasing sales of digital content.

The rapid growth of the e-book industry has book publishers concerned about protecting themselves from piracy, much as the music industry did ten years ago. That is the warning from Susan River, a form music industry executive. River points out that book publishers are waiting for someone to produce a “magic bullet” to save the industry, much as the music industry has done for a decade. The take is that publishers would be better to develop a solid business model themselves rather than wait for someone else to produce one.

Downloads did not kill the music business. Shortsightedness and turf-protection on the part of music business executives did. Piracy and changing distribution schema will not kill the publishing industry. Shortsighted infrastructure-protection on the part of publishing houses will.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Price of E-Book Progress

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