Are the days of reading books for relaxation finally at an end? The iPad designed by Jonathon Ive and approved by Apple’s Steven Jobs should be available for sale outside the United States in May 2010. This does everything the iPhone does, except make and receive calls, it is however bigger, the size of a book and exquisitely thin. This apparently is the most craved consumer product in the world today.
The iPad allows the reader to download books and turn pages by flicking the screen. The iPad edition of Alice in Wonderland has creative animations around the text thereby eclipsing paper books and television. eBooks are books turned into software that runs on the iPad and various other devices. The iPhone puts short stories on iPhones one read by that old fossil Paul McCartney.
Book fairs are less about books and literacy and more about unadulterated marketing. In 2007 Amazon launched the Kindle eBook reader it was not very good and they launched Kindle 2 in 2009. There are other machines such as the Sony Reader which is not very good and since 2009 the Nook which at least has a better screen than the Kindle2. All these machines allow book reading electronically. Steve Jobs told the New York Times the Kindle2 would fail, simply because 40% of Americans read on average only one book in 2009. The iPad is not just a reader it is a fully functioning tablet computer with rivals due out from Google, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. IPad sales are brisk with 2 million sales expected within 2 years.
Will people like ebooks enough to buy them on a large scale? eBooks have captured some 12% of the American market. An electronic reader is not entirely different from a book but simply delivers books in a different medium. Could the written word be saved? eBooks when sold through Apple’s iTunes shops take 30% of the book’s sale with the author receiving 25% and the publisher receiving the rest of the book’s revenue, so, the retailer is the publisher with Apple acting as agent. Amazon in contrast sets its own price and lets the publisher have 50%. Price is the critical factor for book publishers, newspapers, record companies and television producers. The internet has reduced the cost of everything to zero. Publishers allowed bookshops to demand rubbish books and excluded quality writers and the young new writers. eBooks can provide readers access to authors they like and place publishers in close contact with their readers. eBook publishers turned Barack Obama into an eBook author. Reading preferences can be tracked and traced.
Essentially we must value books, do we?