Thursday, 28 January 2010

iPad, iBooks and ePub

Yep, I am reading Twitter, bleary-eyed (its 6AM in Melbourne), with a headache, to find out about the iPad and how it will handle text.

Well, the good news for those wanting a Kindle-killer is that the iPad has an application—and Apple have created a Store—called iBooks and the etexts sold on the iBook store will use ePub, an open source standard for ebooks. (ePub is a free and open e-book standard, by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It supersedes the Open eBook standard. Files have the extension ".epub"; see Wikipedia).

Apple have also already signed up five huge publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster—who will sell content on the iBook store.

As for the iPad, well it is pretty and works just like the iPhone, which means that flipping pages, zooming in (to text, to a table of contents etc), is easy. And it has a colour screen, handles video etc. But, as the New York Times Blog comments:

The gadget itself is transparent, a window into software. There is really only a single mechanical button on the device, the “on” button. The rest is all fingers interacting directly with software.

And, on Apple's eText-reader competition, they note

Needless to say, Apple and Amazon are on a collision course. Media (books, music, video) constitute half of Amazon’s revenues, and it won’t go down without a fight.

Apple uses the ePub format, the most popular open book format in the world. It’s unclear what digital rights management they are using and whether these books will be transferable to other devices that support ePub, like the Barnes & Noble and Sony e-readers.

Oh, and the various iPad models will cost between US$499 and 829 (A$560 and 930) and will be sold unlocked. Which means there isn't much reason to buy a Kindle DX. As one Tweet summarised it:

Kindle DX 9.7 inch black and white screen and one application $489. iPad. 9.7 inch super color IPS screen, thousands of applications $499.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

1 comment:

Doc-in-Boots said...

Apart from the rather dodgy name, the other interesting aspect of the iPad is early talk of it being less consumption-orientated and more creative. Just what that will translate to in practical terms, we won't know for a little while. Also interesting is their support of the technology/liberal arts intersection (