Apple Announces New iPad and iBookstore
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Apple finally confirmed escalating rumors of its impending tablet, with Steve Jobs' announcement of the company's new iPad— which many describe as looking and functioning like a big iPhone—with a 9.7-inch, LED backlit, color touch-screen and WiFi, and an option for 3G via AT&T.
Sending waves of more buzz through the book publishing industry (and mass market) was the news of the iPad's accompanying iBooks app and iBookstore—which will, at launch, feature titles from Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group.
According to Apple, users can download the free iBooks app and purchase books directly from the built-in iBookstore, just like music sold on iTunes. The books users buy are displayed on a Bookshelf. iBooks will support the open ePub standard, developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, which enables text to reflow and be optimized on any device. It also supports images and video.
According to technology blog TechCrunch, which reported on Jobs' Wednesday press conference, “Jobs positions it as a third computing device between a laptop and a smartphone geared towards the 'key tasks' of Web browsing, email, sharing photos, watching videos, playing games, and reading digital books.”
TechCrunch also cited Jobs as saying, “Amazon has done a great job of pioneering this technology [referring to the Kindle]. We’re gonna stand on their shoulders and go farther.”
So far, industry executives who have shared their opinions with Book Business Extra, are still evaluating the iPad's functionality. Many gadget-lovers are drooling over it, but others question the competition for digital book reading that the iPad will pose to Amazon's Kindle, the latter of which is designed specifically for long-form reading (books) with an e-ink screen.
If, however, four out of five e-book users read e-books on PC or Mac (according to Simba Information data published in Book Business' January/February issue), perhaps for the present market, it may indeed pose a hefty threat. The new iPad also raises questions of the opportunity for textbooks and other highly illustrated, color books.
Speculation that McGraw-Hill was part of Apple's list of publishing partners for the iBooks launch—based on comments regarding the new device made by CEO Terry McGraw to CNBC a day before the official iPad launch—was laid to rest yesterday as McGraw-Hill Cos. Vice President of Corporate Communications Steven Weiss said in a statement given to the Wall Street Journal's Digital Daily: "As a company deeply involved in the digitization of education and business information, we were as interested as anyone in the launch of the new device, although we were never part of the launch event and never in a position to confirm details about the device ahead of time."
Prices for new device range from $499 to $829 (for the iPad with 3G). The iPad with WiFi is expected to be released to the market in March, with the 3G version coming in April.