iPhone could usher in the mass market eBook era

At 3.5 inches it seems suspiciously perfect for reading….Setting aside the comfort issues, the iPhone could either kill the nascent e-reader business or take it to new levels. We’ve been saying just about forever that the problem with dedicated e-reader is the fact that the consumer isn’t seeking a device that does only one thing. With its “smart” orientation features, the iPhone could usher in the mass market e-book era.

The BookSquare blog reflects on the iPhone as an eBook reader:

“The iPhone also features a surprisingly large screen, and has the ability to automatically change the screen orientation when a user turns it sideways.

I agree. I’ve never been very interested in dedicated eBook devices. Among other things, they don’t have the back-end infrastructure for effective content distribution, because all of them are focused on publisher-only options. Because of their book search products, a lot of people are focused on Amazon and Google as the major players in the would-be electronic book distribution network, but it seems to me that Apple is quietly carving out a very strong position with iTunes.

What’s significant about iTunes and pdfs is that you’re talking about a general-purpose content distribution network with a device that gets its volume from markets like music, photos, and video, that are well ahead of books as first class digital objects. I just don’t see how any book-specific device has that much of a chance.

Think about it. Text, high resolution graphics, wireless Internet access, single device. So many readers used the Palm interface to read books…and they were really a fraction of the possible audience. The iPhone, more than any device, fulfills the promise of the future. It is the one thing that the publishing industry has desired and needed.

Oreilly Radar & Booksquare Blog