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?