About two weeks ago Amazon announced that it had signed an exclusive deal with a literary agent for 20 classic novels such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (one of my personal all time favorite novels), Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man amongst others. While this has set off a firestorm of arguments in the publishing world over who owns the e-book rights to classic novels, I think it speaks more to the argument over which e-reader you should purchase.
Back in March I asked why anyone was buying a single store e-reader, and now that question is even more relevant. Some publishers are concerned this is going to set off a war amongst the e-reader manufacturers to sign up all the exclusive titles they can, attempting to make their e-book stores more attractive to consumers, thinking in turn that will make them choose the corresponding e-reader as their device of choice.
The problem with this concept is that all of the companies are making a slew of applications with the idea you can have the convenience of reading your books anytime, anywhere you want. This makes it exceedingly clear that if you’re thinking of purchasing an e-reader, the only sane choice at this point is an iPad.
Yes, we know there are comments about the screen compared to e-ink, and the price is higher, but you get all sorts of functions e-readers can’t, and in addition you gets apps for all of the big e-reader platforms. With all of those apps downloaded, it shouldn’t matter one lick to a consumer which books are exclusive with which stores. Amazon has an exclusive book you want? Download it to your Kindle app. Barnes and Noble have an exclusive you want? Download it to your Nook app.
Getting the picture? It makes perfect sense these companies want to be able to sell as many copies of the books as possible, but are they going to do it at the cost of selling their own hardware? It isn’t just the iPad that factors into this. The companies are also making apps for the Android OS, and with tablets coming out with that operating system, the same could be said for them.
You can debate the exclusivity all day long, but it is a done deal for the next two years in the case of these classics, but for anyone thinking about buying an e-reader, your debate just got a bit simpler I think.
What say you? Is exclusivity a good or bad thing? Does it make you think twice about buying an e-reader that handles only one store’s books?