Clueless book publishers miss huge opportunity

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Facing a downturn in book buying, and competition from online e-books, publishers are increasingly turning to cell phones. No, they're not publishing new books on phones, as they obviously should. They're trying to market paper books via cell phones.

Two major publishers today announced new initiatives to reach out to cell phone users.

Penguin Group (nothing to do with Linux) launched Penguin Mobile, which is a free iPhone app that enables users to get news about new book releases, listen to the company podcast and read sample chapters. Insanely, the books themselves will not be available on the app.

Random House yesterday launched an iPhone app of its own, which makes full, older books available for reading free. New titles, again, are not available via the application. 

Does all this sound familiar?

The music industry was holding on to physical CD sales so tightly that they let Apple run away with control over digital distribution and the future of their industry. 

It looks like the book publishing industry is about to do the same thing. 

Publishing industry: The book isn't the paper. It's the content! Why don't you understand your own product?

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