The eBook market is set to be the big technology news of 2010, and although it’s unlikely to affect industrial marketing too much for a while, we all need to be aware of it. In a far shorter time than most people think, the sight of electronic paperbacks is going to become ubiquitous. Why? Because the publishing industry – particularly the news sector – needs this to take off to survive, and the promotion of this technology throughout the media will be relentless. Newspapers and magazines are dying out because alternative content can usually be found for free, and they desperately need a way to make paying for their content easier. The eBook Reader will be that way. Apple is gearing up to enter the market, and the likes of Amazon and Google are determined not to let it take over the way it did with online music.
The demand and support from the content providers (the publishers) will drive hardware prices down very quickly indeed. If you can’t see yourself or your customers shelling out £299 for something which looks like a gimmick, wait until an eBook Reader is £29.99 and the only way of reading The Times, or indeed, The Engineer.
Where’s all this going to go? The first way it’ll affect us in industrial marketing will be a revolution in the publishing world, probably resulting in the long-predicted reconciliation between printed and online journals. The ways they charge you for advertising, and the opportunities for editorial, are likely to change radically. But there’ll also be a chance to distribute your own, home-grown, material more widely; note, for example, how in the iTunes podcast directory, someone recording a chat in their bedroom gets just the same billing as a major BBC production. Your company literature will all need to be produced to take advantage of the eBook formats, and like it or not, the need for you to produce more “content” will be relentless.