The news that Nintendo will add book content to their DS product platform may have publishing executives humming the refrain from the King and I - Getting to Know You - as they jet off to Tokyo. I wonder if this isn't an ominous event for content owners: Content producers may run the risk that their content won't be valued adequately by the target users. While the content will be paid for, it is very cheap. The content on offer isn't new (frontlist) but the aggressive pricing will establish a price expectation in the minds of the consumer. It reminds me of the inclusion of 'free' encyclopedia content on early personal computers which destroyed the market for paid versions. Remember, the content at the heart of Encarta didn't approach that of WorldBook or Brittanica but it didn't matter to the users.
The deal with the company that bought us DonkeyKong and SuperMario will deliver the Harpercollins 100 classic book collection. The package of titles includes titles from Shakespeare to Jane Austin and will be sold for £20. (As an experiment, I can't help wondering how successful/indicative this is going to be since the titles are available universally for free download and the target market will know that).
The Nintendo platform has more in common with the iPhone than it does with the dedicated e-Book readers from Sony or Amazon. No one is likely to buy a Nintendo DS for the book content alone but the addition of book content supports Nintendo's strategy for broadening the possible audience for their products. My complaint is that the typical Nintendo user will attribute value to the console and the purchased games but not to the other stuff - even if there is a patry entry fee.
My argument doesn't preclude delivering content via the Nintendo platform (or similar) and I think in the right circumstances it should be encouraged as another distribution option. In truth, while I second guess the tactical implementation I don't disagree with the strategy. Assuming there is a 'phase 2' of the Harpercollins experiment I hope value is communicated effectively in the offfer.