I’m a big fan of Instapaper. Instapaper is a service (program? app?) that allows you to bookmark websites (articles) so that you can explore (read) them later on various other devices. For instance, you can bookmark interesting newspaper articles that you discover through email/blogs/facebook/twitter on your phone so you can read them later on your desktop, or vice-versa. This allows for flexibility of the screen size you choose to do your reading on, as well as the work vs. pleasure reading times of your day. I see a need for this.
Apple just announced that their new operating system Safari for Lion includes a feature called Reading List which provides this service. The investors in Instapaper were understandably nervous and threatened. But the developer Marco Arment tried to set these fears aside by assuring his peeps that the world still needs Instapaper. On one hand, the features of Instapaper far exceed the standard Reading List features, and the number of people who will learn of the idea of this service through Lion’s built-in feature will increase the number of people who search for the perfect app to improve upon its performance. In an interview with Ars Technica, Arment says, “From my perspective, Apple could take 99.7 percent of the market and I could take 0.3 percent of the market, which would double my market share.”
I love this guy’s pluck. And it is exactly what I’ve been feeling about all the e-book rumblings. You’ve heard it: e-books are taking over the world, the printed book is dead! But new technology advances rarely eclipse their predecessors, but rather add to the choices, and its exposure. Film did not kill television; television did not kill radio. DVDs might have surpassed VHS, but videos in general have not killed movie theatres.
While the media is running around proclaiming books are dead, I notice a resurgence in interest: a reverence by some and discovery by others. The percentage of the population that are avid book buyers has always been miniscule, and while some of that number may have been lost to e-book consumers, there are some e-book consumers who have now discovered bound books, so it balanced. Add in the loss of Borders and other bookstores, and the rise of loyal local shoppers, and we’re better now than a few years ago. The only real danger I see is the shaping of habits: if people think first to look for books/e-books online, then the uphill battle continues. In other words, status quo for the challenge of being a small indie bookseller, but with a hope of doubling that .3% of the market share!