Will the iPad Change the Face of Publishing?

There’s been a lot of hype about the launch of the iPad this week. Many are claiming that the iPad and its iBooks software will save the publishing industry. They’re saying that it will kill the Kindle, the Nook, and every other ebook reader with a nonsensical name.

ipad

I say: not gonna happen. And here’s why:

1. Lack of an ePaper display.

This is the deal-breaker for me. Reading on an LCD screen causes eye strain after awhile. Not a big deal if we’re just reading blogs or news sites for a few minutes at a time. But when reading a book, I might sit down for hours at a time to read. With an LCD display, that’s going to cause eye strain. That’s the single biggest reason I would not consider this at all for a viable ebook reader.

The other side effect of not having an epaper screen is that I have to charge the thing every day. With epaper, a charge can last for days or sometimes even weeks. That means if I’m going away for the weekend, I don’t have to carry along a charger with a Kindle or a Nook.

2. Lack of Selection.

The official Kindle store has more than 400,000 books available. Barnes & Noble’s Nook has access to over a million books, newspapers, and periodicals. And that doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of books available on sites like Smashwords and Fictionwise. The iBooks store currently has titles available from five major publishers. Which probably amounts to a few thousand books (probably more with backlists, but I bet it’s still less than a hundred thousand titles). So if you only read mainstream ebooks, the iBookstore might have everything you’re looking for. But more likely, it won’t. And it’s unclear how well iBooks will play with DRM-free ebooks from other sites.

3. DRM.

If iTunes is any indication, iBooks will have heavy digital rights management. The mainstream publishing industry embraces DRM, but it’s pretty clear that tech-savvy consumers (which is what the iPad is most likely to appeal to) don’t appreciate DRM.

Other Shortcomings

The iBooks software isn’t the only shortcoming the iPad has. First of all, the internal memory is really lacking. Sure, the most expensive version has 64GB of storage, but the base model (the one that’s only $499) only has 16GB. To top that off, there’s no SD slot. Which means I can’t expand that 16GB of storage. I can tell you how long that will last me. About a month if this is something that I’m watching movies on, listening to music on, storing photos on, and reading books on. That’s unacceptable.

The lack of an SD slot also means I have to hook this thing up to my MacBook Pro if I want to transfer photos to it. Which makes that photo software they were showcasing a whole lot less impressive. It doesn’t even have a USB port. Or an HDMI port. That means I can’t hook it up to my TV to watch high definition movies. What’s the point?

A Better Alternative

First of all, if you just want a dedicated ebook reader, buy a Kindle. Buy a Nook. Buy an Alex. Don’t buy an iPad. If you want a giant iPod Touch, then buy an iPad.

The good news is that there’s a better alternative only a few months away. A company called Pixel Qi has come out with a new transflective display. What this means is that the display does double-duty. Let’s say you want to watch a movie. Then you use the display as a standard LCD. But then let’s say you want to read a book. You simply switch it over to epaper mode! And if you’re trying to surf the web in bright sunlight, then you can switch it over to transflective mode, which has less saturated color, but is easier to read in direct light.

And there’s a company based in India, Notion Ink, that has created a tablet that uses this new display. It runs on the open source Android platform, which means there are plenty of apps available, and it’s easy enough to learn to code them yourself. The best part? It’ll have expandable storage and it’s expected to retail for only $325. This is what I’ll be waiting for.

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2 thoughts on “Will the iPad Change the Face of Publishing?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Will the iPad Change the Face of Publishing? | Cameron Chapman -- Topsy.com

  2. Though the IPAD currently has issues, what first version of any device didn’t have faults. I feel this will change the way we incorporate media and advertising into our daily lives. Down the road there will be similar devices, just like theres’ a zune instead of an IPOD. We will eventually enter the three-device-environment where people intake their news, magazines, video, interact with their rich media and post, share, tweet, email all in live time essentially having conversations about this media. Since this is so portable people will use this on the subway, the plane, during lunch, etc because lets face it no one wants to read a magazine on their small little phone. with not nearly the amount of capabilities.. overall im excited to see how this will progress

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