Devices Are Cool, but Content Is Cooler

Tablets and e-readers are great but without content they’re not worth much.

Barnes & Noble has spent a great deal of effort in promoting its Nook e-reader, and even devotes a lot of in-store floor space to Nook boutiques. But, as Jim Hilt, vice president of e-books at Barnes & Noble said, speaking at a conference on digital books, “The device is just an entry point at helping consumers do what they already do today, which is read great books and discover content.”

Amazon, too, is aware of that, even with the success of its Kindle, and wants to ensure that content, even its own, gets to a reading public. The online retailer continues to offer a variety of publishing options and is a powerhouse Internet distributor, but has also inked a deal with Houghton Mifflin to distribute Amazon’s adult titles in North America outside of the Amazon.com platform.

Although many millions of iPads, e-readers and such have been sold (and will continue to sell), changing the nature of the reading and book-buying experience profoundly, it all comes down to what’s on the screen (or page). The distribution of content is evolving. The content remains key, though.

Even when a tribe contributes to the content. If you’re building a platform for your message, you will rely to a certain extent rely on what your audience tells you about your message when it responds to what you write. The creation of that content falls ultimately to you, of course. Books written by committee – anything done by committee – have a committee feel, that is, an unfocused point of view, as if something had been given so much market research that the sparkle that made people enthusiastic about it in the first place.

The point is, though, that despite the tools for market research, audience testing and distribution, the content of a book is the most important thing. Everyone wants to find an audience – even the seemingly all-powerful distributors like Amazon. Content is too precious for it not to find a home in the mind of a reader.

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2 Responses to “Devices Are Cool, but Content Is Cooler”

  1. Anonymous January 25, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Great points, Bob. I have a bit of a weakness for devices and tech-gadgets. But you’re absolutely right. Where we are flooded with information, lots of it garbage, when a gem comes along, it sure stands apart from the sea of mediocre. 

  2. Anamarie Seidel January 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Really good points. I think in addition to that is also the actual design of the content as well. So many people are writing content and self publishing. But in an attempt to save money are bypassing the editor and a good layout designer who will make sure that the text properly flows in all of the devices. It’s not as simple as spitting out a PDF. There’s a huge need for good designers.

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