Where We Live: The E-Book Wars

When the Kindle 3 was released, some observers said the e-reader war has begun

Mrs. Duffee Seated on a Striped Sofa, Reading Her Kindle, After Mary Cassatt
Photo:Mike Licht, Creative Commons
Where We Live: The E-Book Wars
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Where We Live: The E-Book Wars

When the Kindle 3 was recently released, some observers said that the e-reader war has begun.  But as it turns out, Amazon and Apple might be waging a secret war against us, the consumer. 

As Amazon unveiled the Kindle 3 - their latest answer to the slick new iPad - Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, unleashed an investigation into both Amazon and Apple’s ebook pricing model, alleging that the two ebook competitors have locked the biggest ebook publishers into a deal that discourages discounts.  It’s being called an anti-consumer practice. 

But most consumers don’t know or frankly, don’t seem to care if they’re being fleeced.  Amazon can’t keep up with the new Kindle demand and iPads are still whizzing off the shelves of Apple stores. 

Today, we look at the advancing technology of E-readers and the evolution of the E-book market.  As Apple and Amazon surge ahead, what are the legal consequences of their actions?  Who is at war?  Who do you think will win? 



As an editor for the largest

As an editor for the largest electronic publisher of romance novels, Samhain Publishing, I've seen a huge growth in the sales of ebooks. From my perspective, this is a very exciting time in publishing. I do believe paper books will always be with us, and ereaders won't do them in any more than VCRs and DVD players have done away with movie theaters. As a former teacher, however, I must say that one of the few times my students showed any interest in books was when they discovered they could download and read them on an electronic device (either my Sony ereader or their cell phones or iPods). It is the wave of the future, and I believe it will ultimately lead to a growth in readership. I have both a Sony PRS-700 and a Kindle. I love the Sony for its backlight and touchscreen, but it's hard to beat the Kindle's wireless capabilities. The iPad is lovely to look at, but a bit heavy for a long stretch of reading.

Listener Email from Brent

Now that I read most of my novels on my Kindle, I have discovered that many, if not most, of the classics are available as free downloads. Therefore I am now reading all those classics I've always wanted to read!

Regarding audio books - I had a special-needs student with a profound reading disability - beyond dyslexia. His Special Ed teacher kept giving him the 1st grade readers to try to read - but he was a very smart kid and was insulted by these books. Books were the enemy to him. I loaned him my Ipod and downloaded some age-appropriate audio books for him, then gave him the printed books to read along with the audio book. It opened up a whole new world for him, and he became a lover of books. He soon held the record for the most books "read" in the school. He became an honor-roll student (with me reading his tests for him).

Listener Email from Eunice

The caller who mentioned children's books began me thinking. Books for youngsters are so tactile, touch, sound, pop-up, etc. It's hard to do that on an ebook. And what if you have several children all reading at the same time, are you going to provide ebooks for every member of your family? I believe we can have a world of real and ebooks.

Listener Email from Carol

Since the incident where an e-book was withdrawn after purchase due to legal questions of the distributors right to send it out, I have been concerned about controversial/e-books being withdrawn or edited in the future - and in an all e-book world there may not be a paper record to go back to. Is this a plausible scenario?

Listener Email from Barbara

I have kindle books, audible.com, movies, tv music-- all in one place on my teeny iPodi- a teeny device. Buying a kindle or sony reader or even the barnes and noble one seems silly--reminds me of a buying rice cooker and a popcorn popper when a pot with a lid will do it all!