Just in time for my upcoming essay on new technologies and their potential effects on the Canadian educational publishing industry, Amazon announced yesterday that they’ll be selling the Kindle in Canada.
Far be it from me (yet) to comment on whether or not the Kindle is a worthwhile purchase. But I really do sense that once it’s within Canadian borders, the slow response time of Canadian publishers to eBooks is going to be looked at as even more foolish. While there are a LOT of cons to eReaders at this point (you don’t own the book, you license it; Amazon reserves the right to delete the book after you purchase the license; Amazon’s eBook format is proprietary, etc), publishing as a whole is going to have to do some serious reckoning:
- If eBooks become more important, what will happen to book designers? Will people even consider book covers relevant anymore? If eBooks standardize page size, will our considerations towards font and layout change?
- Will people pay $10 for the pleasure of reading a book yet not really owning it? With the removal of the used book market, will sales go up or down?
At this point, I don’t plan on getting an eReader, but I’ve always been something of a late adopter when it comes to technology like this. Besides, people don’t know if Apple’s planning on making a reader of their own, and if they found a way to more fully integrate eBooks with the iPhone, we can expect yet another paradigm shift.