Is the Traditional Paperback Being Replaced by Technology?

Nintendo, the Japanese video games company, is set to announce a deal with publisher HarperCollins to make literary classics available to view on its handheld console, the Nintendo DS.

The collection of titles available for the tiny Nintendo have been dubbed The 100 Classic Book Collection. As expected this will include works by authors such as Shakespeare and Dickens.

nintendo-ds-liteAlthough the Nintendo has been very successful primarily as a portable games console, selling two million units in Britain, how will it stand up against other e-book competition?  Fellow Japanese giant, Sony, is trying to monoplise the market with The Sony Reader. This £199, Waterstones endorsed product can hold about 160 titles and thousands are available to download from Waterstones’ website.  Online retailer, Amazon, released the kindle in America this year, a product that also offers subscriptions to newspapers.

So will these flash products catch on?  Many readers have stated that ‘the good old book’ can’t be replaced and that the new electronic readers don’t give the same experience and flow. Understandable when the small lcd screens can sometimes only display a few sentences at a time.  The other school of thought hits on the new products’ top selling points; portability, choice and convenience. Nintendo executive James Honeywell said, “When you go on holiday, or if you’re a commuter, lugging around a big paper book can be a bit of an inconvenience. Now you’ve got this whole library that you’re taking with you.”

Nintendo has already paved a way for alternative applications for the DS with ‘games’ such as Brain Training and sudoku and has captured a different type of user from the stereotypical ‘games’ player.  By continuing to provide software for a varied audience and by branching out from staples like Pokemon the DS may well succeed in the book market. The 100 Classic Book Collection goes on sale on December 26.

Traditional book sales don’t seem too affected currently.  Not compared to the impact of mp3 downloads on the sales of hardcopy music. However, in a world of ever increasing technology and peoples’ desire for online conveniences, it has to be acknowledged there is definitely a new kid on the literary block.

by Will Esland