We haven't forgiven you for your CD DRM fiasco, so it is with dread that we now hear that you are planning a new electronic book device. Here are seven tips to keep you from fouling it up:
1. Don't allow only Sony provided content onto the machine. In fact, open up your format so that anyone can produce a book for your machine. Allow Sony content to be readable on other machines as well.
2. Don't DRM anything. Don't work together with content providers to lock anything. Don't issue content that will only work on a single device. People who buy books for your machine may also want to read them online. Let them. People who buy books online may want to read them on your machine. Let them. Assume your customers will be honest. The billions you make from happy customers will offset the thousands you lose to book copying, which is still illegal. And you're not going to stop them, anyway.
3. Price your books in such a way that we know that we're not paying for printing, binding, distribution, and all the other things that no longer apply to eBooks. In other words, price the eBooks less than regular books. Don't worry that every eBook sold represents a loss of paper sales; it doesn't, any more than DVD sales represent lost movie ticket sales. They coexist.
4. Allow us to resell the content. Allow us to resell the devices. Otherwise, it's not going to work, and you'll find someone to blame, but it will be your fault.
5. Design it for the 99% of the people who are going to buy it and how they are going to use it. That means: portable, easy to read in all light conditions, no eye strain, water-resistant, scratch-resistant.
6. Make the reading experience as book-like as possible, but include the following key features: text-to-speech, for the hard of hearing; option for big text and contrast, for the hard of seeing; bookmarks; highlighting; hypertext; wi-fi and USB connections for emailing, blogging, sharing, and tagging; automatic screensave and powersave; long battery-life; easy and cheap to fix; few and simple navigation controls.
7. Do not automatically send a unique device ID to anyone whenever the device connects to the internet. Do not try to suck any information about anything I read in order to transmit it to anyone, ever, even in bulk. Get that information from the distributors when I buy it, if you must.
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