The good news is that the newly announced Apple iPad is a much more exciting device in terms of what it brings to the e-book game than it is an an overall computing device. In general terms it’s just an over-sized iPhone that has a few new peripherals (like a keyboard – hooray). But it still doesn’t support Flash and Apple has decided wanting a device that is capable of multi-tasking is just too 1980s.
But the interesting news is what it means for the e-book market.
The iPad introduces a new app called iBooks which links with a dedicated e-bookstore called iBookstore (enough with the “i”s already). It supports ePub as its native format! Apple adopting an industry standard is almost unheard of and it will be interesting to see if Apple allows access to ePub books bought for Stanza (or someone adds this functionality through a hack). They already have in place agreements with major publishers such as Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette.
But the device is not the issue – Apple entering the e-book trade is. These developments – support for e-Pub and Apple having a dedicated e-bookstore will mean a lot for the business. If only we could convince them to open the store up to non-Apple devices.
What it will mean for the Kindle, who knows at this stage. But it’s 2.5 times heavier, thicker and larger, has a shorter battery life and there’s still that backlit LCD screen. I don’t think it’s a Kindle-killer. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a big leap for e-publishing.