the title of this post is a quote from Malcolm Gladwell’s very excellent TED talk, in which he explicates the importance of CHOICE for consumers. basically, it boils down to: there is no ONE best thing. rather, there are SEVERAL best things.
it hit me today as i was thinking about the iPad (i know, shut up) vs. dedicated e-readers. most of the talk that i’ve heard/taken part in has been looking for the magic bullet — the one thing that is going to save publishing, the one device that is going to take over the e-book market, the one format/distribution model/pricing model that will fix all the problems.
we’re looking for the best solution. we need to look for the best solutions.
let’s start with e-readers. dedicated vs. multitasker? the answer, when you stop and think about it, is obviously BOTH. there are some people out there who love that reading is inherently an exclusive activity — one cannot truly read and hold a conversation, check email, or watch tv at the same time. so, a dedicated device will suit these people best. then there are those of us who are on the go, and want to fit as much functionality into our bags as possible. these folks are more likely to go for a multi-tasking device (of which the iPad will not be the last, nor the best, i am betting). and BOTH sets of folks will be happier, and spend more money (thereby SAVING PUBLISHING) if they can have what they want.
same goes for the reading experience. Sarah really hated that iBooks mimics the IRL reading experience; Carolyn really liked that. who is right? BOTH. what does this mean in practice? a smart programmer would offer options for reading experience. do you want to turn pages or change screens? see pages side-by-side or have more room for text? a smart programmer would offer flexible settings, and would then make BANK.
some people like chunky, some people like smooth. it doesn’t mean you try to figure out which there are more of — it means you make BOTH.
there is a piece of my brain that thinks you can apply this type of thinking to chains and indies as well, but that is another post for another day…