The Future of Reading Meets the Future of Search

I’d been meaning to comment on the Newsweek article, “The Future of Reading”, for quite some time as its implications on the search world are profound. But after reading Bryson’s post on mobile visual search, I knew it was time to get on with it.

Just as Bryson looked at innovation in the mobile search within the context of Query Marketingsm, I’d like to apply that framework to recent innovation in the print world.

Amazon recently released the Kindle, an electronic device with a six-inch screen that can store hundreds of books. Weighing just 10 ounces, the Kindle can accommodate 30 hours of reading on a charge and has WiFi built-in to allow you to access the web and, of course, download books from Amazon.

Other features include a private email address that let you receive and read messages and attachments. There’s also a special pen that lets you capture passages from the book you’re reading just like you were using a highlighter. Finally, you can subscribe to newspapers, magazines and selected blogs and get the updated editions sent right to your device.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, is convinced the Kindle is the future of reading. And, while the jury is still out, you have to figure the man that transformed the book sales industry knows what he’s doing.

In fact, the story of the Kindle may turn out to mirror that of the iPod. The latter was an expensive device created by a category leader designed to replace radio, CD’s, and music stores in one fell-swoop. So, too, with the Kindle you have an expensive device ($399) that could displace newspaper, magazines, books, libraries and book stores.

Key to adoption here is that (just like with music) you have a group of people incredibly passionate about the category. I think the term “voracious” was created to describe avid readers. Skeptics have said that book readers will never replace their trusty paperbacks because there’s an emotional connection, but they also said that about vinyl records, tapes, CD’s, etc.

OK, so enough about the Kindle. What does this mean for search?

Well, quite simply, the print medium is now officially searchable. Sure, we’ve been able to search online editions of newspapers and magazines for quite some time. But there’s still a considerable population that prefers to read their content on the go, in bed, etc. without having to fire up a laptop. These are just the folks that will take to the Kindle.

Never before (outside of Google Book Search and Amazon’s Search Inside the Book, both of which offered limited selections and functionality) have books been searchable.

But I think this is less about being able to search inside books and more about being able to search while reading books. There’s a big difference. Think about kids doing homework and being able to reference Wikipedia with a quick click. Or adults taking on Dostoyevsky and being able to query a bulletin board thread on the topic. Or anyone reading about a product that sounds cool and being able to Google it and purchase instantly. The possibilities are endless.

And, of course, it’s only a matter of time before the same query-based marketing opportunities available on a computer will be available via Kindle. Whether it’s sponsored listings, contextual listings (oy, can you image Vibrant Media hyperlinking every other word in a book?) or even natural print optimization (for publishers that want to make sure their content is found when people are looking for the next piece to buy), there are myriad Query Marketingsm opportunities in a world of digital print.

Bottom line, the Kindle just might spark something big for search marketers.

Posted by: Aaron Goldman, VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships


Bryson said...

I never thought I would want a $400 book, but this is changing my mind. Time will tell whether the Kindle is a popular success or just another ebook reader, but I agree the technology is exciting for query marketers. Thanks for the post! Do you want to draw straws on which of us will address the query marketing implications of thought-initiated search ( or the Internet you can smell (

Aaron Goldman said...

Did you see my follow post? The Kindle is sold out and people are on back-order for 6 weeks. Certainly seems like it has legs. As for who's gonna jump on the senso-query train first... my money's on Brooke!

Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.