Reading on the Nintendo?

Is Nintendo also jumping onto the eReader bandwagon?  A comment at the just-concluded E3 on the new Nintendo 3DS has sent ripples of excitement through both the gaming community and the publishing industry.  Nintendo boss, Satoru Iwata, told show attendees: “We’re thinking about functionality where it will automatically acquire newspaper and magazine articles.” 

Although the statement itself is hardly conclusive, several other facts suggest that eReading is on the cards.  The new device, which will probably be released early next year, will be the first to have a Wi-Fi connection which would allow it to download content.  And Nintendo eBooks are not unprecedented.  Leaving aside the misleadingly named ‘Nintendo eReader’ – an add-on device for the old Game Boy which allowed players to read secret information on ‘eCards’; it flopped fairly miserably outside Japan – the company has already created eBooks for the Nintendo DS.  The best known of these is the 100 Classic Books DS cartridge from Harper Collins which seems to be fairly popular among console owners.  Readers have the standard flipable pages, backlight, bookmarks and even some, apparently well-chosen, background sounds.  The Moon Books Project, which “brings classic literature and movies to the Nintendo DS”, also has a collection of titles ranging from Homer to Joyce.

The Bookseller’s recent survey on eBooks found that only 26% of the 3,000 readers they surveyed in the UK had heard of Amazon’s Kindle.  41% were aware of the Sony eReader and 60% of the iPad (the survey was conducted before its UK release).  And the Nintendo DS?  Jostling for top spot with the iPhone and Blackberry at 72%.  The survey also found that 68% were unlikely to or definitely not going to buy a (dedicated, presumably) eBook reader.  And remember this survey was among readers, defined as people who had read at least one book over the last year.

That might give Iwata some food for thought.

To watch a video of Iwata and his Nintendo 3DS developer discussing the device at E3 click here.

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