eReaders are Cool, But eBook Publishing Platforms Will Revolutionize the Industry

Last Updated Jan 8, 2010 5:54 PM EST

Almost every major media organization is crowing about the latest eReaders on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. But even the cool factor of Skiff's "paper thin" flexible steel, or the conjoined screens of EnTourage's eDGe (opens like a book!) can't really revolutionize the publishing industry.

That's for the likes of platforms such as Blio, NDS's eReader Solution, even FastPencil's eBook Publish-Ready Format for eReaders.

It's simple. Dedicated readers such as Kindle come with a whole layer of proprietary implications for the publishing industry. In the case of Kindle, publishers must sell Amazon a dedicated digital edition that can then be downloaded (for a lot less than a hardcover price) only on their reader. Nook, Que, and others are treated separately --much like the retailers themselves. While publishers can feel good about spreading the wealth around to other readers (thus keeping Amazon from dominating as my BNET colleague David Weir pointed out), these new platforms may hold the key to the market share -- and the revenue -- that will really make a difference in their bottom line.

Here's why:

Blio is going to offer publishers the opportunity to create digital files at no cost that can preserve the format of previously tough-to-digitize tomes such as cookbooks. Not being constrained to a dedicated reader means a more robust digital reading experience on a computer, or even a mobile phone.

FastPencil is offering authors who want to skip the traditional publishing route entirely (and control their own promotion) the option to self-publish eBooks. FastPencil claims this allows authors to have access to the broadest distribution possible as well as the promise that the digital files will be able to adapt to any eReader that is introduced in the future.

Their format also takes aim at one of both publishers' and authors' biggest challenges right now: marketing and selling of eBooks. A more nimble approach to reaching dedicated audiences, such as social media, is becoming de rigeur for established and emerging writers. FastPencil's technology appears to have that key flexibility with an option to publish single chapters or stories as eBooks, a great way to generate buzz.

NDS, a provider of solutions for digital pay television is also setting its sights on digital publishing, providing publishers of books, magazines and newspapers a way to monetize content (gasp!) "with advanced advertising and purchasing models including the ability to preview, purchase, subscribe, rent, gift and lend content" from its "middleware."

Talk about a revolution.

Previously on BNET Media: