E-books push deeper into interactive territory
The big buzz around e-books are devices, like Amazon's upcoming tablet, and apps such as Booktrack that take interacting with stories to a new level.
by Carolyn Kellogg
If there's already a tablet in your house — an iPad or an Android-driven one — then this fall, e-books will be all about interactivity. If you don't have a tablet yet, keep your eye on Amazon.
Industry watchers have been predicting that Amazon will introduce a tablet later this year — if so, it stands to be a big hit. In August, the technology and market analysis firmForrester Research said that Amazon could sell between 3 million and 5 million tablets in the last quarter of this year, if the company prices the (not-yet-announced) device at $300 or less.
Amazon proved it could transform the publishing landscape by introducing its Kindle e-reader in November 2007. Before that, e-books were an oddity, and e-readers strange, unloved creatures. After Amazon put the Kindle in front of book buyers, everything changed; readers embraced the device. Last summer, the online bookseller saw e-book sales overtake its print book sales. During the first half of this year, Random House, the world's biggest publisher, saw more than 20% of its U.S. revenue come from e-books.
Now there are many e-readers on which to consume those e-books: Barnes & Noble's Nook, the Kobo, the long-standingSony e-Reader and a multitude of others. Most compete with Amazon's Kindle; a tablet from Amazon would be designed to compete with Apple's iPad.
The iPad can function as an e-reader — it has the native iBooks application — but its real appeal, book-wise, has been in apps. Other tablets, many of which run on the Android operating system, can run apps too, but Apple got a head start. Since the iPad's debut in April 2010, it's been a Wild West of app development, with companies small and large creating apps that allow books to move and more.