SPECIAL REPORT: Embracing the ‘Kindle Effect’
“One of [Scieszka’s] books was challenged in a library, so hopefully the ambassador choice will lead to a heightened consciousness about banning [books],” she says. “People say: ‘Write stuff that boys want to read!’ and so we get ‘Captain Underpants’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ and then they ban them. … Reading is not easy for a lot of people. If they’re not interested, they won’t read. You’ve got to have things kids really want to read, and give them a range of choices.”
In an age of multifunction cell phones and iPods, another key to the industry’s future is making books as convenient and easy to purchase as possible. On this front, things are looking up for 2008, thanks to Amazon’s November 2007 introduction of its Kindle e-book reader.
With consumer awareness of the advantages of e-book technology growing, prospects are good for continued rapid growth of this segment, says Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher at HarperMedia, who works across divisions to guide the growth of this medium.
Amazon’s release of the Kindle means “all good things” for the format, she says, adding that publicity surrounding the Kindle, in concert with Sony’s efforts to promote and educate the public about its e-reader, is certain to lead more people to embrace the technology. “It’s a poorly understood format,” she acknowledges, “so any effort that is successful in educating and breaking down this mystery is, of course, of great interest to people like me.”
Allessi, who uses her e-reader every day during her commute to work, says questions from other commuters have in recent months changed from “What is that?” to “How do you like it?”—giving her a chance to evangelize for a technology she believes will play a huge role in the future of books.
“As both a book person and [an] e-book person, I believe there are many books that I want to own, that I want to be able to touch and feel, and have on my shelf, and I firmly believe there are many more that I want to read, and these devices make [that] reading very easy and convenient,” she says.