Readers are still debating about the so-called "e-book revolution." But for hardware manufacturers, it's a done deal: In recent months, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and Apple have all unveiled e-reader devices of one kind or another. As Steve Haber, the president of digital reading at Sony Electronics, told this blogger late last year, it's "the beginning of the moment" for e-books.
The latest entrant into the already-crowded e-book field is an unlikely one: Nintendo, the manufacturer of the best-selling Wii. In late March, Nintendo is set to launch the DSi XL, an oversized addition to the portable DS video game line. And according to Bloomberg, one of the first titles available for the DSi XL will be "100 Classic Books," which includes offerings from Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
Nintendo Vice President of Marketing Cammie Dunaway said that the company has no plans to try to compete with giants such as Amazon. Anyway, it isn't clear the company could compete. The DS screen isn't equipped with e-ink technology, and would likely be rough on the eyes; moreover, Nintendo doesn't have the same sprawling online store as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Still, Nintendo's "Classic Books" makes sense for a whole lot of reasons. First of all, the DS is already insanely popular, to the tune of millions and millions of platforms sold. Shoppers flocked to the iPhone faster than the DS, but Nintendo has sold many, many more of its portable device than Apple has. By expanding the range of the DS to include e-books, Nintendo helps increase options for current DS owners. Meanwhile, for anyone trying to choose between, say, a $250 Sony PSP GO and a sub-$200 Nintendo DSi XL, Bill Shakespeare is a nice incentive.