“We’re trying to make it as convenient as possible and as diverse as possible—the exact opposite of Kindle [e-book] readers,” says Bob Kasher, director of sales at MPS Mobile. “We’re not requiring anybody to go out and buy a brand-new machine.”
Kasher says he had expected most of the initial interest to come from publishers interested in marketing their titles via mobile means, but his experience thus far with the Global Reader has surprised him. “For the most part, I would have to say that the response I’ve been getting out of publishers has to do with selling content—either pay-per-view subscription, by the chapter, whatever—as opposed to making it available for promotional opportunities, which I find very interesting,” he says. “
When we first went into this, I thought it would probably be the opposite, that publishers wanted to post free content and be able to use that in order to sell hard copies,” Kasher continues. “But it actually turns out that most publishers like the idea of selling digital copies.”
Kasher says the release of Apple’s iPhone helped bring about this emerging consciousness by making everyone much more aware of the potential of Internetenabled cell phones.
The significance of these developments is not lost on Merriam-Webster’s Morse either.
“In the Asian market, this is the dominant way that people look up words,” he notes. Merriam-Webster currently offers a Web-based service through Verizon, but is planning a dictionary application for the iPhone.
“We believe it’s incumbent on us … to be ubiquitous, to be every place that people want information on language,” he says. “As it turns out, that is still predominantly print. Right behind print is the Web site, but behind that and a really important player that we want to move to is dedicated handheld devices.”
The emergence of by-the-chapter book sales is seen by many as a model that, in the near future, will naturally strengthen the market for mobile content.