There are no tools here. Just about everyone is curious and interesting, and everyone does a little something different. But if I were going to make one recommendation, it would be this: there need to be more sessions about readers. As in, the actual humans who READ the ebooks. Debates about DRM and format, open source and the logistics of creating an ebook are important. Displaying the new devices – way important. But discussing ANY of that without also examining the readers who are BUYING the ebooks means that the true solution to any of the questions cannot be reached.
That said, this conference has been amazingly eye opening in a variety of ways. Behold, random notes in convenient format. (For a lot more little notes plus pictures, Behold the Twitter.)
Cory Doctorow’s keynote was amazing, and was the first of many moments in which Angie and I both missed Jane. Doctorow’s law bears repeating:
If someone puts a lock on your stuff against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key they are not doing it for your benefit.
The amazing products in the demo hall are also very thought-provoking.
PlasticLogic’s ereader is thin, large, and ideal for magazine and textbook format ebooks. Absolutely lightweight and visually amazing.
The device I can’t stop talking about in terms of amazing form and utterly failful programming is The Readius fronm PolymerVision. Look: a video that shows the device. Check it out.
I love the idea of small curling portable ebook readers. I am not at all fond of the idea that the content can’t be managed by the end users. When I asked the gentleman at the booth point-blank, “Who is your ideal consumer?” He didn’t have an answer. He talked about the newspaper usage and the publishers controlling content options.
No, thanks. It’s great that it can read newspapers. Lovely – but so does the Kindle and WhisperNet wirelessly delivers them to the Kindle at the crack of ass o’clock every morning. A portable uber-tiny ereader would rock a lot of socks, but not if I can’t put my own books on it.
After lunch it was time for our session, which was not as well attended as I expected, though we had a lot of questions, interaction, and some really outstanding commentary about ebook readers, devices, formats, DRM, and price points.
One woman mentioned that one of her childhood memories was relatives arriving for a visit with a paper bag full of romance novels to share with her mother and grandmother. With ebooks that’s not possible, which we mentioned as a barrier to adoption of ebooks by eager, avid readers. Sharing is part of the fun.
I added that inherent in the concept of sharing is also the concept of borrowing, which is one of the flaws I’ve found with the Kindle: I can’t borrow library books, despite the fact that the two libraries I have access to do in fact offer library lending of ebooks. Sharing and borrowing are two issues that do need to be addressed in ebook development and evolution. The economy and the audience of readers demands it.
After the session I met with Marc Prud’hommeaux from LexCycle (which is pronounced “lex-sickle,” oops) who gave me a live demo of the one-button buy sequence that will be part of the next edition of Stanza, The App That Rocks The Universe.
I do have a video of the entire process, and will upload as soon as I can. It’s a big file.
We also talked about how Stanza managed the slam dunk of ebook reading on the iPhone, and how much of a boost Harlequin’s usage and partnership gave their readership numbers. As a Sci-Fi reader, Marc was way sympathetic to the dissing regularly handed to romance, and had positive things to say about romance readers. We talked about the future of ebooks as well. Marc says he knew that Stanza would be a hit, but he didn’t realize how big – they just passed 1.5 million downloads this week. And yet, it’s free for users still. How awesome is that.
And now: the interpretive dance portion of our conference.
Angie James of Sam Hain on the Readius:
Malle Vallik, Digital Director at Harlequin, on a reader trapped in DRM:
Kassia Kroszer of Booksquare, as the unwilling reader:
And Ron Hogan of Beatrice, as another unwilling reader:
Off to review tand then have dinner. Tweets will continue as morale, and alcohol levels, improve.