Derek Haines, who runs the blog Just Publishing, has an interesting piece on the future of ebooks. After a brief look at the history of ebooks, he lists four interesting predictions about ebooks in the future. Check it out.

Subscription Services

Haines points out that the future has already rounded the corner on this one; Amazon, Oyster and Scribd already have ebook subscription services. But Jason Illian of Bookshout makes a good point:

“…users consume ebooks differently than they do other subscription products. Unlike music subscription services, like Spotify, where a user can consume hundreds of songs a day, the average ereader is lucky to get through one book a week or even a month. So, the clock just runs slower for ebooks. Music and movies can be measured in minutes and hours, but ebooks have to be measured in weeks or months. Therefore, it takes a lot more time — and money — to build a viable service.”

Even with a longer timeline, will the future of ebooks include more subscription services? I predict yes.

Advertising in the eBook

Haines says it would not surprise him if we start to see Google Adsense in ebooks. We see ads all the time on websites, such that “the appearance of a small advertisement at the head or foot of every ten pages or so of an ebook may not be seen as that intrusive.”

While a good idea for publishers, as a reader, how would you feel about this? I tend to disagree that readers won’t mind ads in ebooks. Even in digital format, readers want to get into the content – be drawn to the experience of the book. Having ads placed in the book file will likely disrupt the reader experience. But will we see them? Odds are good.

Upping the Ante on Interior Formatsfuture of ebooks

I agree with Haines that currently except for covers, commonly ebooks have a “boring” format, with black text on a white background. Even if you want to get a little creative, book producers like CreateSpace often won’t accept book files outside a rigid set of interior formatting rules. In the future of ebooks, however, I also bet this will change, and “colourful interactive displays” will become more commonplace and loved by readers.

More of an App

Now this prediction I find the most intriguing – that the future of ebooks will go beyond a traditional book format and expand to files with “movement, interactivity and connectivity.” Haines thinks the ebook “will become less of a book and more of an app.” Ebooks are after all a digital file and there will be lots of room to make it more than words on a page. It can become a multi-dimensional interactive experience. This too, I predict, and am so curious what “beyond traditional” book formats will become the rage.

Haines asks, “So what will the ebook itself and the ebook market be like in five years?” I’m with him, in that I also predict “it won’t be anything like it is today.” I look forward to the next phase of the ebook evolution!

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