20 October 2009

Racing to the Bottom of Openness

Here's some interesting news about Barnes & Noble's e-reader:

The reader, named the “Nook,” looks a lot like Amazon’s white plastic e-book, only instead of the chiclet-keyboard there is a color multi-touch screen, to be used as both a keyboard or to browse books, cover-flow style. The machine runs Google’s Android OS, will have wireless capability from an unspecified carrier and comes in at the same $260 as the now rather old-fashioned-looking Kindle.

Linux-based: no surprise there. But this is:

And over at the Wall Street Journal, somebody got a peek at an at ad set to run in the New York Times this coming Sunday. The ad features the line “Lend eBooks to friends”, and this has the potential to destroy the Kindle model. One of the biggest problems with e-books is that you can’t lend or re-sell them. If B&N is selling e-books cheaper than the paper versions, then the resale issue is moot. And lending, even if your friends need a Nook, too, takes away the other big advantage of paper.

In fact, this loaning function could be the viral feature that makes the device spread. Who would buy a walled-garden machine like the Kindle when the Nook has the same titles, cheaper, and you can borrow? The Nook is already starting to look like the real internet to the Kindle’s AOL.

It's a classic "race to the bottom", where the bottom is total openness: see you there, Amazon.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


Crosbie Fitch said...

Do we yet have the technology to create an eBook reader that can make and retain copies of eBooks that are lent to it?

No doubt millions of spondulicks are being spent on a way of achieving this technological breakthrough, whilst of course ensuring that it is in accord with each copyright holder's license.

It's a bit like spending millions on technology to holographically project the 3D image of an animated flag bearer appearing to walk in front of a motor car in order to enable the car to achieve speeds of greater than 5mph.

I know. Why not simply abolish copyright?

Glyn Moody said...

@crosbie: great simile