10 for 2010: #3 People of the E-Book

Last week’s launch of the iPad signaled Apple’s entrance into the digital world’s growing market for the “third device.” While personal computers and cell phones are two distinct devices, some are calling for a gadget to fill the space in between the two. Whether that device is going to be more like the do-all netbook/tablet iPad or a dedicated reader like Amazon’s Kindle is yet to be seen.

What can be said though is that these new devices are not a passing fad. Some hopeful analysts claim that the iPad and Kindle, by offering new format possibilities for books, newspapers and magazines, might just save the media industry. E-books, for example, are currently available for 125,000 titles on Amazon and make up 6 percent of the site’s total sales in books, including 48 percent of all titles available in both formats.But forecasters project sales to grow exponentially in the near future to the point that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has proclaimed that after a successful 500-year run, the book’s time has come.

For the People of the Book, a people not generally known for its early entrance into new technology opportunities, it’s time to start envisioning how things will change as we become the People of the E-book.

  • How might the Jewish community increase Jewish literacy as more religious and educational resources become digitized in e-formats, and thus become more easily disseminated and accessed?
  • Will prayer become more individualized as siddurs (prayer books) become available to everyone and can be carried without adding any extra bulk to a briefcase or book bag?
  • Will learning of Jewish texts attract new students as Torah and Talmud become available in new formats?
  • Will Jewish life become less expensive by saving on the purchase of books at religious schools and day schools?
  • How might synagogues and JCCs build relationships beyond their walls as sermons, newsletters and blog entries are sent to the palm of constituents’ hands?
  • Will all Jews need a handheld device, like new students at some universities, in order to fully participate in all the community has to offer?

We want to hear from you! How else might the Jewish world change as it enters the digital realm? What’s your organization or community doing to interact in the digital world?

Our Recommendations, and Yours

Part of our goal in this blog is to turn you on to great stuff, and we’ve just set up an aStore through Amazon.com to provide even more recommendations. The aStore allows you to set up your own store with your recommended products that Amazon sells. Any organization can do this, and through your affiliate relationship, get a percentage of each sale. The real value, however, is that you can turn on your constituents to the products you think they’d most enjoy or benefit from. This is a great way to plant the seed that parents and grandparents buy Jewish-themed gifts for Hanukkah. Instead of thinking that this is a great way to raise a few bucks, market it as a service you are providing to your community. And consider the affiliate referral fees just a bonus.

Check out our aStore here. And you can learn more about setting up your own (really, a 30 min undertaking to get going) here.

We also want to hear what you’ve been reading or using that you’d like to share with others through our aStore. This can be about anything: Jewish, nonprofit, technology, media, etc. I’ve even set up a kid related category as a resource for Hanukkah gift ideas. Leave a comment below with your suggestion, and we’ll add it to the store! I’ve also added a link to our store on the left side of this blog, so you can find it easily in the future.

When I speak at conferences or professional development events, I always try to leave something in my wake. After a shot in the arm of social media, usually the people in the room are hungry for more. I always mention books, web sites, blogs, and other recommendations, and provide a handout with lists of this info. After nearly every event, I get emails from participants saying “I love that blog!” and “I read that Managing Transitions book — thank you, it was so helpful!”. I hope our store can provide this ongoing resource for you. When you finish your next book, come browse!