Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Death of Traditional Book Publishing

Books are big deals to missionaries.  Books are heavy, they are difficult to pack, difficult to ship and difficult to store, especially in humid climates where missionaries often work.  Missionaries need books, lots of them.  They need them for studying theology, prepaping sermons, studying language and culture and, most importantly, just for fun!  What to do with books is a question every missionary has to ask an answer.  When we moved to Kosovo, we shipping about 15 small boxes and books videos via "m-bags" through the post office.  It was a major pain.
Most of us have left traditional books for electronic forms of one type or another.  My complete "Word Biblical Commentary" set easily fits on one CD.  Most of the novels I read these days are downloaded from www.fictionwise.com.  I read occasionaly read magazines on Zinio reader.
Michael Hyatt, the President and CEO of Thomas-Nelson Publishing, the largest Christian publishing company and ninth largest publishing company in the world write a blog I follow closely.  In this post he casts a vision for the future of electronic distrubtion of books.  It's a good read if you're any type of book bug.  I would love a device like he envisions below.  Quoting Michael:  
.... we are only one device away from a digital revolution in book publishing, what might such a device might look like? Here’s what I envision:
  • It looks similar to a tablet PC slate. No keyboard, no monitor, and it folds in half.
  • It is the same size and thickness as a hardcover book, say 6" by 9" by 1/2". Unfolded, it is 12" x 9" by 1/4". It feels great in your lap. It can even be bent slightly like a book, so you can curl up on the sofa and read away.
  • It uses a tablet PC interface with a built-in stylus that feels like a high-end pen. You can use it to make menu selections, enter text (via handwriting recognition), or highlight passages in books.
  • It weighs less than a 256-page hardcover book (about one pound). It therefore dramatically changes the shape and heft of your computer bag.
  • It has a battery life of 12–18 hours.
  • It completely replaces your computer and runs all your favorite applications.
  • It has 256 gigabytes of flash drive storage. It has room for tens of thousands of songs, photos, movies—and books. Because it has no moving parts (unlike a hard drive), it is faster and more reliable.
  • It is wi-fi enabled (of course).
  • It includes a software application similar to iTunes for the purchase and download of books. Heck, maybe it's just a modification of iTunes.
  • It has a simple, elegant book reading application, similar to Microsoft’s Reader.
  • It has a docking station that allows you to use a keyboard, mouse, external monitor, etc.
  • It runs an Apple operating system. (Okay, I couldn't resist.)


Dave Zinman said...

Hi! I work for Zinio and saw that you mentioned us in your last post. We appreciate your usage and thanks for the mention. You may not be aware that we now offer textbooks in digital format as well as magazines at: http://www.zinio.com/?ns=mhhe.

William said...

Hyatt's post is gone. Maybe his books are rebooting.

Jeff said...

Dave, thanks for the note. I was actually looking at your textbook offerings a few weeks ago...they look pretty good.

William, I'm guess the reboot finished, it's his post is back up. Cracked me up though :)