So the iPad is finally here and brings big implications for the future of publishing. Here’s a video of the iBooks app at work:
The iBooks app will use the ePub format, which is good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s not a proprietary format, like the Kindle – i.e. Kindle books can only be read on a Kindle. Actually, Kindle has expanded to having books available on the iPhone, but generally it’s a single format ereader. One wonders if Kindle books can be read on the iPad, as they can on the iPhone, what use the Kindle has at all. No doubt that would truly make the tablet a Kindle killer. It’s unclear right now if iPad books will be transferable to other devices, but the use of ePub suggests they will be.
The bad news about ePub is that it’s really cumbersome to deal with and it’s easier to just strip out all extra formatting, as you do for Smashwords books, because ePub is really just a fancy text file. It is possible to do more with it, but it’s not easy. Given that the iPad is built around the app store ($9.99 per app), a Create a Book app could be in the pipeline. There was a thought that Apple might be creating its own user-friendly format, but instead chose the universal ePub format.
Good news is that it’s cheap – $499 – but if you’re going to use the ebook store, you’re going to need a 3G connection, which is an extra $130 – [edited from comments. Twitter is not a flawless source of information]. $499 does what you need it to. Well-priced for all it can do. If I was buying a Mac for the first time, I’d think about getting one of these and setting it up like this:
It doesn’t have the full functionality of a PC, but there are word processing apps and other apps that could mimic some features. Overall, this is GREAT news for the future of reading as this could very well do for books what the iPod did for mp3s.
Update: Cool book demo in this video at around the 1:00 mark – via Engadget, where there’s some good info about the pros and cons of the device. Yes, this first-generation device is not perfect (no multi-tasking), but it is miles ahead of something like the Kindle: