Virtual E-Book Kiosks One Giant Step Closer

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For years we’ve been forecasting e-book kiosks, brick and mortar showrooms for e-books. You walk into a store, browse descriptions and sample texts from some two or three million books, point your smart phone at the ones you want, buy and download them. The great thing is that these shops don’t have to be bookstores. Someone could set one up in a drug store, supermarket, or even a deli (See I’ll have Four Sesames, Four Poppy Seeds, and a Copy of War and Peace).

Virtual kiosks are no longer theoretical. According to a report in L’Atelier, EBay recently created a couple over the recent holidays dedicated to a variety of products and services. “The online auction and sales platform provider recently opened pop-up stores in London and Berlin, where customers were able to make purchases using smartphones and also obtain advice and training on how to sell on eBay.” Though the stock in trade was hard goods, there’s no reason why the concept cannot be applied to e-books. Bookstores are (unfortunately) already being used as showrooms for book browsers, so this just legitimizes the process.

E-kiosks were envisioned some years ago by Joe Esposito, a management consultant in the digital media and publishing field. He coined the term “Medadatarium”, a concept that falls somewhere between a mega-bookstore and an e-book kiosk. “We need a utopian solution” to the crisis of our disappearing bookstores,” Esposito says. “We need our bookstores,” he wrote, “but we also need Amazon’s inventory. We need libraries–and we need a way to pay for them. We need analog tools for discovery and digital modes of delivery. We need a Third Place for community and a Cloud-based infrastructure to deliver all information to anyone anywhere anytime. And I need a place to kill some time on Saturday afternoons.” Esposito crackles with good (and entertaining) ideas and you can read up on his Metadatarium here.

See you at the kiosk!

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

About Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is a leading New York literary agent ( who foresaw the Digital Book Revolution and launched an e-book publishing company early in 2000. E-Reads ( is one of the foremost independent e-book publishers in the industry, specializing in reprints of genre fiction by leading authors in their fields. Curtis is also a well-known authors advocate, author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including several books about the publishing industry, and prolific blogger – see his hundreds of other blog posts here.

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6 thoughts on “Virtual E-Book Kiosks One Giant Step Closer

  1. i walk into a B&M store scan a bar code of a book i like and can in a few clicks have it delivered to my home or downloaded top my phone. Why do i need expensive desktop or wall furniture? What will be the return on this investment as unlike music the sample is literally in the hand althready and doesn’t need to be rendered.
    WE would ask – Is this wise dot com?

    • @Adam – the persistence of physical bookstores suggests that people still want to go to a physical place to browse books and socialize. Yes the smartphone is a kiosk but buying on it is an isolated experience. There is something to be said about being surrounded by warm bodies when you shop…

  2. Do you seriously think people will go into a shop and line up at a screen to browse a list of books because they like warm bodies?

  3. If you are walking into a B&M store and scanning their book to order it cheaper online, you are robbing the store owner. You’re using their lights, their rent, their shelves, their hard work to get good books on their shelves! You are a book terrorist driving the book store owner out of business.

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