The Counterintuitive CEO

eBooks Will Extinguish The Kindle

March 8, 2011

The Kindle is a young device, but it’s already on the way out. If you’re a CEO about to move to eBooks, I would recommend going straight to the iPad or an Android tablet.

I was an early Kindle user — I always kept one with me on the road and one at home. But I recently ejected my traveling Kindle out of my backpack and, as you can see from the picture on the left, my home Kindle is gathering dust in the stack of books next to my bed.

What happened? Blame it on Keith Richards. I bought Richards’ autobiography, Life, over Christmas. As an experiment I decided to read it on my iPad, using the Kindle app. The iPad offered a bunch of advantages:

1) The backlit screen made it easier to read, especially when my wife turned off the lights at 11:30.

2) Underlining text with a flick of the finger is far better than joy-sticking through paragraphs.

3) Moving between pages was seamless, with none of the slow refresh that you get with the eInk-based Kindle.

4) The iPad is a multifunction device — I use it for music, pictures, email, browsing, applications, viewing business documents. Books fit naturally in this environment.

But the big difference was how I used the capabilities of the iPad to give me the “extended” eBook experience. When Keith referenced Altamont, I quickly took a look. When he talked about G tuning his guitar, I checked it out. I was getting his book+, in one look.

The next generation of eBooks will combine video, links, music, and social. The 2013 version of Andre Agassi’s book Open will show him hitting his forehand in slow motion, excerpts of his match with James Blake, and — if his ego can take it — a time lapse view of his hair styles. All of this content will require the memory, apps, video, network, and audio capabilities of a tablet computer. So Kindle the application thrives. But The Kindle will be consigned to occasional beach trips (you can read it in direct sunlight, unlike a tablet) on its way to becoming an historical footnote in the eBook story.

What do you think future eBooks will look like? I’d love to get your thoughts.

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