Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sony Shuts it's eBook Store. And that means...?

In the wild, wild west of publishing e-books to electronic devices, Sony is packing up their e-book bags and leaving town.

As announced on February 6, 2014 and reported by Dianna Dilworth at GalleyCat,

"Sony, one of the early players in the eBook business, has closed its eBook store The Reader Store. The company did not explain why it shut down, but despite being early to the scene, Sony has been lagged behind Amazon and others in device innovations and eBook sales penetration.
 All Sony client accounts will be transferred to Kobo, the Canadian-based eBook store that is owned by the Japanese commerce giant Rakuten. All accounts will transfer to Kobo in March."
Sony's upbeat press release about closing their e-book store.

For people reading on their Sony Reader™, Xperia® tablet or smartphone, it's cool that their e-libraries will still exist, but there's some nervousness (I'm seeing the tweets) about what this means in the larger sense.

What about the Nook? (That's Barnes and Noble's e-book reader.)

Are we seeing a replay of 8-track versus cassette, just in a wider field? (Okay, now you all know I grew up in the 80s! And for those of you younger than that, that's what music was on after vinyl records, before CDs, waaaay before MP3 players and digital files.)

Or is there an intrinsic uncertainty to buying an e-book, since it's ephemeral and not an object? In which case, much of what's online is ephemeral, too - including this blog post!

Here's one of those things we talk about in Los Angeles: Earthquakes are a risk we all know about, even if it's usually in the back of our minds. But, let's say you're buying a condo - it's a 20 story building, and you're buying a really nice place on the 15th floor. Congratulations - it's awesome, except...
 IF there's an earthquake and
 IF the building is red-flagged (yeah, there's even a term for it when a building needs to be demolished and taken down for safety) and
 IF that building doesn't have earthquake insurance (and some buildings vote to not have it) Then, um, where do you live?
What you now own is, essentially, a slice of sky, 150 feet up in the air above the plot of land where the building used to be.
Do you have money to rebuild? Is there earthquake insurance? What's your backup plan? 

Of course, it would be a public relations disaster to let an e-book reader format fail and have all those customers lose their e-libraries, and Sony does seem to be taking care of things. Borders, when they went out of business, had their e-readers get covered by Kobo as well. And maybe the threat of that bad P.R. (and a posse of unhappy customers) is ultimately our insurance.

What do you think?

Between the cowboys and the earthquakes, that's a lot of metaphors. It's an interesting time, out here on the digital frontier. Isn't it?

Illustrate and Write On!

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