The Future

You Can’t Hold Back the Future

Like it or not, the future will not contain very many books. For book publishers, this is a terrifying prospect. Just as computer technology remade the music distribution industry and the Internet is remaking the print newspaper distribution industry, electronic books are proving to be the disruptive technology that is remaking the book publishing industry.

Digital ebook readers, like the Amazon Kindle, are upending the economics of book publishing. Delivering content digitally is vastly more efficient than delivering content in printed form. It also eliminates the environmental costs associated with producing physical paper.

For readers, ebooks offer many advantages. The digital reader stores huge amounts of data in memory, eliminating the weight and size of traditional books. This means it is now possible to carry a library of books in your pocket just as you carry a music collection on an iPod.

To date, eBooks have generally transposed the sequential reading of narrative content from the technology of the paper book to the technology of the digital reader, effectively creating digital page-turners. Little has been added to the reading experience, other than convenience.

For reference content, such as guidebooks and educational texts, technology has the potential to significantly enhance the reading and learning experience. By digitally augmenting existing reference content, a computer can make intelligent decisions when delivering information to the reader. For example, if you are searching for information on a small red-breasted bird, the computer will deliver more meaningful information if it is aware that you are in California rather than Maine.

iBird Explorer is the first of a new breed of electronic books that reinvent and re-imagine how we consume reference content. iBird Explorer Pro contains the equivalent of over 4,000 pages of narrative text, expert facts, and multimedia content, including illustrations, photographs, and high-quality audio. The app provides direct access to the Internet to supplement the reading experience with information from knowledgeable online sources.

However, the most revolutionary aspect of the iBird Explorer digital field guide is the inclusion of a parametric decision engine. This enables the app to intelligently filter content based on the reader’s unique circumstances, effectively giving readers access to a birding expert wherever they go.

This is a pivotal time for the book publishing industry. In a few short years, the world of books will look very different to today. Looking back, we will see that iBird Explorer was the beginning of a fundamentally new way of reading books.