It seems like the excitement of a new device from Apple has become a annual event. Of course their marketing ploys help build that excitement, but I have to be honest in saying that I truly like what I see here. Yes, the iPhone was very cool, but it still didn’t make me run out and switch from Verizon to AT&T (even when I can get a discount due to my wife’s employment with AT&T). Mind you, I’m a HUGE Apple fan and have been since the early, early days.
But the energy I feel this time comes from a real hope that this simple, beautiful device, http://www.apple.com/ipad/#video, can help the ailing publishing world. I’m old school in that I love the newspaper and read it each and every morning with my coffee. But I also read another dozen or so daily online thanks largely to the free content. That free content, though, will have to evolve if the magazines and papers are to remain profitable. I also enjoy all manners of good books. But I didn’t like the Kindle because it looked and acted more like a computer than a book reader. The iPad looks (from what I can tell) and acts less like a computer. I love the look of flipping the pages and even the simple, fun look of downloading a book and seeing it appear on your bookshelf. These are the ways that Apple revolutionizes. Simple, elegant and easy to navigate while paying attention to details. The fact that the NY Times recognizes the potential and got on board immediately is a good sign to me. They’re the “old gray lady” for a reason and they produce a lot of excellent content in traditional and evolutionary ways (ie: multimedia platforms). What’s appealing about the iPad is that you can read an article, then click on the photo gallery or related video and integrate the mediums with ease and on a large screen.
So I can actually see myself reading a paper or magazine or book on the iPad. For the profession I’m in, as the NY Times has indicated, this device might help stem the flow of blood from the publishing industry that has been whacked by a loss of advertising and readers. It’s simple, the next generation will clearly be utilizing electronic devices to read, study, share content. The printed paper, magazine, book is not for them. The publishing world has been trying to find it’s way with this generation for a while but in reality the platform for digital distribution hasn’t been there. But this may start to change things.
The world of textbooks will also benefit, I believe, by evolving into a more dynamic interaction with students as opposed to printing a book that can easily be outdated in a year. Visual content can now be integrated into textbooks more readily because there is a platform in place for easy distribution. No longer will students have to deal with “out of stock” textbooks. And the prices should come down, though that will remain to be seen.
As for the content providers, such as myself, the iPad might change the way we look at licensing images for e-books. Where such rights were previously considered supplemental to the printed rights, I believe the reverse will become true in the near future as textbook companies gravitate heavily toward e-books. The printed version just might be “supplemental” in terms of licensing.