Interview on CBC Business News: Examining eBooks

On 12th June 2009, producer @NishaPatel invited me onto CBC Business News to talk about the eBook phenomena. I think I talk a little slow for television, but oh well, that’s that.

I initially passed this opportunity to Dr. Alex @Halavais, whom I knew was in the process of digitizing his entire personal book library. He had given me great advice on the evolution of media industries from analogue to digital, specifically on how the book publishing industry is likely to mirror the course of music and movies industries into the digital domain.

Here are some questions from CBC News, as well as my responses:

1. Why are eBooks taking so long to turn mainstream?
Short answer: Aesthetic experience. Music and movies tend to be experienced same way be it analogue or digital (i.e. screens, headphones), while the experience of browsing a physical book hasn’t been replicated in the electronic form. I think we’re compensating by recognizing the new-found features of ebooks, including the ability to search within books and to carry along more books with us than physically possible.

2. Who are going to be the real losers here? Bookstores, publishers?
If we were to look at the demise of Tower Records, or the state of Blockbuster today, it’s quite certain that if ebooks were to take off, then the brick and mortar bookstores would be next to go. As much as we romanticize the loss of physical browsing, bookstores might have to adapt themselves around alternative aspects of business. I’m seeing many bookstores take the Starbucks route by turning themselves into The Third Place, which focuses the business on communal aspects of books, such as operating cafes, hosting author readings, and catering to book clubs.

3. Which device do you think will lead the ebook revolution?
I personally enjoy reading on my Amazon Kindle, as well as my iPhone. They compliment each other very well, and the convenience and comfort these devices bring to reading ebooks make them strong contenders as mainstream devices for the publishing industry.

If you’re interested to see why the Kindle and the iPhone rock for reading, check out this recent discussion I had with my fellow Kindle fans.

UPDATE: The RamblingLibrarian now offers his thoughts on ebooks as well.

  • http://blog.sivasothi.com/ Otterman

    Steady-lah dude!

    Gotta say, I still prefer print mostly.

    • http://theory.isthereason.com Kevin Lim

      Siva, I doubt the experience of reading and flipping through a book will ever be replaced by an eBook reader. We might have to live with that compromise if ebooks ever get mainstream. If anything, I'd say that the tougher economy would force publishers' hand into making the transition.

  • http://blog.sivasothi.com/ Otterman

    Steady-lah dude!

    Gotta say, I still prefer print mostly.

  • http://blog.sivasothi.com/ Otterman

    Steady-lah dude!

    Gotta say, I still prefer print mostly.

  • http://theory.isthereason.com Kevin Lim

    Siva, I doubt the experience of reading and flipping through a book will ever be replaced by an eBook reader. We might have to live with that compromise if ebooks ever get mainstream. If anything, I'd say that the tougher economy would force publishers' hand into making the transition.

  • http://theory.isthereason.com Kevin Lim

    Siva, I doubt the experience of reading and flipping through a book will ever be replaced by an eBook reader. We might have to live with that compromise if ebooks ever get mainstream. If anything, I'd say that the tougher economy would force publishers' hand into making the transition.

  • Adsit

    Great stuff, Kevin!

    -Jason

  • Adsit

    Great stuff, Kevin!

    -Jason

  • Adsit

    Great stuff, Kevin!

    -Jason

  • http://ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com/ Ivan Chew

    Hey Kevin, as what I've blogged here, I think one reason eBooks haven't taken off like digital music and video is that it's not as easy to consume 'reading' compared to music and videos. So in that sense, the spread of digital music/ video consumption is way higher than for books. Well, that's what I'm claiming anyway. Dude, on primetime morning TV! Woot!

  • http://ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com/ Ivan Chew

    Hey Kevin, as what I've blogged here, I think one reason eBooks haven't taken off like digital music and video is that it's not as easy to consume 'reading' compared to music and videos. So in that sense, the spread of digital music/ video consumption is way higher than for books. Well, that's what I'm claiming anyway. Dude, on primetime morning TV! Woot!

  • http://ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com/ Ivan Chew

    Hey Kevin, as what I've blogged here, I think one reason eBooks haven't taken off like digital music and video is that it's not as easy to consume 'reading' compared to music and videos. So in that sense, the spread of digital music/ video consumption is way higher than for books. Well, that's what I'm claiming anyway. Dude, on primetime morning TV! Woot!

  • wingless_pilot

    Cool!

  • http://www.gr3g.com/ GrEg

    Going up the “expert” ladder :) Nice job..

  • reenu1

    Thank you for sharing your conference with CBC Business News among us.And your's views for eBook phenomena.