by Joseph T. Sinclair
By any measure, the conversion of reading from print to digital has been lightning quick with the introduction of the Kindle reader and then the iPhone and iPad. In less than eight years over a third of all reading in the US is done on digital devices. The question for publishers is, What digital devices?
Unfortunately for publishers, the answer is not clear. The marketplace is working out which devices will become the more popular and what percentage of the device market each will have. What is clear is that the smart phone appears to be the run-away winner and will have the largest reading market share.
Tablets sales are slowing. Yet tablets are overtaking notebook PCs as the popular choice for robust mobile computing. The omni device of the future appears to be a combination of a tablet and keyboard with the power of a laptop and the USB connections for using necessary peripherals on the desktop—a device that’s thin and light. There are some devices close to this available today with high resolution displays ideal for easy reading. Manufacturers are experimenting, and it’s likely a standard feature-set will emerge before long. Goodbye laptops and desktops. Goodbye printed books. Hello tablets and smart phones.
Tablets, of course, are book-like in screen size and can display traditional typography with considerable agility. On the other hand, the screen size of smart phones severely restricts their typographical capabilities. Indeed, new typographical formats are need for the future of phone reading, and such formats will emerge. That still leaves publishers with two formats to address; that is, two different books to publish with the same content.
Publishing two sizes of the same book with appropriate typesetting for each size is a simple problem that will be worked out before long.
A more complex problem is adding diverse media to digital books. What is good for tablets may not be workable for smart phones. And adding diverse media to digital books will take years of experimentation and decades to work out.
The author of this article, Joseph T. Sinclair, is the author of twenty How To books published by national publishers.
For low-cost non-exclusive reprints rights for this article, contact sales@AuthorsAndPublishersDigitalReview.
©2015 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.