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Who Will Develop the Next eBook Platform?

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 in Future of eBooks | 0 comments

The global eBook platform I have been describing—dubbed the Miranda Proposal in earlier posts—has such powerful potential, both socially and economically, that there will be significant competition among those who would seek to build and control it.  Read the series: “The Miranda Proposal: Tomorrow’s eBook Platform”: Prologue  part 1   part 2   part 3   part 4   part 5   part 6   part 7   Epilogue The leader in the eBook platform war could well arise not from high-tech software and hardware companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, but from the book publishers themselves, who have the most to gain from controlling the platform, and the most to lose if they fail to secure that beachhead. In many ways I hope they succeed. The problem with software and hardware companies controlling our media is that they really want to restrict you, as best they can, to their hardware and software. The companies I mentioned are focused on selling their own devices, so they have a stake in developing a proprietary eBook platform that will only work, or work much better, on their systems. But tomorrow’s eReader won’t be locked to a specialty device, like a Kindle or a Nook. It will be your smartphone or tablet—whatever device you have at hand from whatever manufacturer. All devices are now eReaders, and with cloud technology, each device will know what you are reading and which page you left off, no matter which device you used last. (Picking up where you left off across devices is already a Kindle feature.) The ultimate goal of device manufacturers is to sell devices, not books, so they have little motivation to create marvelous eBook platforms based on open standards. Amazon makes far more selling electronics and clothing than books, and would probably give away eBooks just to entice you to visit their store. There is a real danger in having a tech company control the eBook platform of the future. Apple is already trying to make content itself proprietary, in the area of self-publishing. The license agreement for iBooks Author states “If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in...

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eBooks and the Triple Bottom Line

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 in Future of eBooks | 2 comments

I’ve written about why eBooks are useful, and even inevitable. But I want to take this a step further, and look at why they are important, in the sense of social impact. One useful measure is to see how eBooks serve the Triple Bottom Line (TBL).  Read the series: “The Miranda Proposal: Tomorrow’s eBook Platform”: Prologue  part 1   part 2   part 3   part 4   part 5   part 6   part 7   Epilogue Triple Bottom Line refers to the three pillars for measuring organizational success: People, Planet, and Profit. TBL has been adopted by the UN and various governments for public sector cost accounting and corporate social responsibility initiatives—which of course makes it sound awfully dull. But TBL is actually a progressive and useful way to think about how a technology will transform the organizations and societies it touches. The Effect on People and Society We live in the Information Age, of which the Internet is often described as the key driving force. But the Internet is just a communication vehicle, a vast cloud of information, disinformation, and generally wasted computer space, largely curated by Google. On the other hand, eBooks are catalogued, edited, and critically validated. Whether they deliver wisdom, entertainment, facts, fancy, lies, or opinion, eBooks are part of a global digital library that is far better managed and organized than the hopelessly cluttered and chaotic Web. While eBooks are personal and static today, they will soon become networked. Once we connect them digitally, eBooks will serve as interactive “knowledge nodes” on a vast social network. The cloud-based technology infrastructure is already here; it’s now a matter of building the eReader platform that will connect every eBook to the global community. That’s when things will get really interesting.   Tomorrow’s eBook will have the power to transform society in fundamental ways. It will drive social change in health, education, and literacy. It could even fuel a new global Renaissance. Or at least cure boredom on a global scale. Consider just a few examples, and then think about what will happen when the truly innovative thinkers get going with it: a medical worker in a remote village in Africa checking...

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