Friday, May 21, 2010

Books in the Cloud?

Reading E-Books Rewrite Bookselling in today’s Wall Street Journal got me thinking about how much the manner in which I consume media has changed of late.

Several months ago I cancelled all of my cable movie channels and re-activated my NetFlix account; I stream the movies more often watching via DVD.  Similarly, I also recently started using Rhapsody (love it!), a fantastic alternative to downloading and storing music -- and worrying about secure back-ups to protect my investment. I also cancelled my Sirius-XM account because my iPhone is a far more useful and flexible alternative (especially with the Rhapsody app.)

So a great deal of the media I consume lives in the Cloud, where I can access it via a variety of devices.  Is there a similar model on the horizon for the publishing industry?

While I often read newspaper and magazine articles on my iPhone, the idea of reading a book on that device never appealed to me. But the iPad offers an excellent book-reading experience, so much so that I doubt that I'll purchase another paper book (with the exception of library sales and the occasional irresistible remainder bargain.)

But rather than having to download and store digital copies of books, I'd love to see a model similar to Rhapsody or NetFlix, where I pay for 24/7, any-device access to the e-books I want to read.

Audible, the digital audiobook company, has a  sort of hybrid model. The audiobooks I've purchased are permanently stored on the site, where they can be streamed to my computer. The downside is that if I want to listen on my iPhone I have to download the file and then upload to my device. But unlike content I purchase from iTunes, if any of my Audible purchases are accidentally deleted, I can download another copy from the site. (An Audible iPhone app that allows me to stream titles in my library seems like a no-brainer, no?)

(At least as far as music is concerned, Apple's purchase of Lala may signal a move to a cloud-based model that will go head-to-head with Rhapsody. Time will tell.)
Audible also offers monthly membership deals that allow users to download a predetermined number of titles each month.

So as the new breed of ebook stores comes online, I hope someone offers a model similar to NetFlix, Rhapsody, and Audible.



Cross posted to Bob Rhubart’s Blog and Smallification