With bated breath we await the arrival in a few days of the Apple iPad. This new tablet computer may—or may not—deliver an entirely new model of eBook distribution, finally clearing a path to the future from the jungle of confusion publishers and retailers seem to be in at the moment.
Apple will supply a new application, iBookstore, modeled after iTunes, to wirelessly deliver eBook content to the iPad. Prices, now being set in conjunction with publishers, are likely to be higher than eBooks on the Kindle or other eReaders.
Will customers find enough value in the trendy, hip and sleek iPad and its added capabilities—color, touch screen interface, and all the other features Apple will build into its software—to make the leap to iBooks? Will we have to stop using the term “eBooks” now that Apple wants to call them “iBooks”? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, Apple has released a set of 11 video “tours” of the iPad in action with core applications. The videos, which run about 2 or 3 minutes each, cover these applications:
- Safari—Apple’s browser
- Mail—The Apple email client
- Photos—Like iPhoto, but big
- Videos—Watch them on the big screen
- YouTube—More videos
- iPod—The music system
- iTunes—Music delivery module
- iBooks—The iBook reader
- Keynote—Apple’s presentation software
- Pages—A word processor designed for iPad
- Numbers—Spreadsheet software
Take the Tour
The most interesting two videos for authors and self-publishers look to be the iBook reader with the iBookstore, and the word processor. Here are the video tours for these two modules. You’ll note that the iBook application still only offers the same weak collection of 5 fonts we saw at the launch in January. In the second video, of Pages, you’ll note that an entire font library is actually available on the iPad, too bad you can’t use them to read your iBooks. Here you go, first the iBooks application:
Next is Pages, the word processor:
You can see all the videos at Apple’s iPad tour page.
If you’ve watched the videos, I think it’s clear that Apple has produced a really new device, with new capacities and a pretty exciting platform for publishers to exploit. On the other hand, the multimedia books themselves are really an old idea, going back 10 years or more to CD-based software with interactive, multimedia capabilities. On the iPad, though, the wireless internet access, outstanding graphics, and open-ended access to all the treasures of the web make this a computer unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Like the iPhone, the iPad will be a much more natural way to read books than trying to read on an upright computer monitor or a laptop. I think the iPad looks like a winner.
Hope for Self-Publishers
In good news for the self-publishing community that may be overwhelmed by the rich, expensive applications Apple is showing on the iPad tour videos, Smashwords has announced it has signed a deal with Apple to provide books to the iBookstore. More about this development as we get closer to the launch date.
If you’ve watched the videos, what do you think is the outlook for the iPad? Did watching the video make you want to buy one?
Is this the “book of the future?”
Takeaway: As the Apple iPad launch nears, Apple is showing some of the remarkable new software they’ve built for the device. Will it be enough to push buyers toward the tablet? Only time will tell.