Apple's iPad: What book lovers need to know

Apple has revealed the first steps in its iPlan for stepping into the world of digital publishing. At a press event in San Francisco today, Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPad, his company’s hotly anticipated entry into the tablet market that is set to release worldwide in 60 days. Moments later, they announced their iBook app, which will let iPad owners create their own library of titles purchased and downloaded from a central iBooks store.

Using the nearly 10-inch color touchscreen, voracious e-readers can place their iBooks neatly onto a virtual bookcase that requires no trip to Ikea or quintilingual instruction manual. The reading process will be expectedly haptic, using the already culturally ingrained motions of flicking, tapping and swiping to turn pages, switch titles and adjust font size. The real question is whether or not there is any sort of software involved to make reading for hours on end easier on the eyes. E-readers like the Nook and Kindle have e-ink technology, which helps to reduce the eye strain that comes with continuous screen-staring, and whether the iPad can offer something similar is an important distinction. If I had to read something like Under the Dome entirely on a computer screen, my eyes would probably melt into a milky goo.

The good news is that Apple’s iBook application uses ePub, which is already the most popular open book format in the world, and not exclusive to the company. Also, they have the early support of Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and the Hachette Book Group, who all teamed up with Apple to create the iBook store. The store features a top chart list and New York Times bestseller list, while offering readers access to in-book photos (both color and black-and-white) and even videos. And it runs a lot like iTunes, so the millions of current music customers who already shop there will find iBooks easy to peruse and, most important, to purchase. For some techie experts, this familiarity is a huge iPad advantage—the fact that Apple customers are loyal and that its new product could usher even more e-readers into the marketplace.

The thin iPad weighs in at 1.5 pounds, more than either the Kindle or the Nook. Its screen is the same size as the Kindle DX (9.7 inches), with touch capabilities like the Nook, but beyond that, the visual e-reading experience seems completely different–not surprising coming from Apple. This is particularly true for print publications like The New York Times, which took center stage at the iPad debut to show off its own application. The NYT app brought the newspaper format to life, according to live bloggers, with in-article videos and without a lot of ads. Then there’s the host of other applications that iPads offer, apart from reading eBooks—you can open all 140,000 iPhone apps on the new device, in their original size or in double-pixel vision.

iBooks will cost between $7.99 and $14.99, which is both above and below the $9.99 average Kindle edition price. Pricing for the iPad itself occupies an entirely reasonable range of $499 to $829, on Apple’s typical sliding scale of gigabytes. (with reporting by Keith Staskiewicz)

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  • Momo

    Thank you for postiing this. I wanted to hear how to works…Ugghhh..Don’t know what to do….I’m a huge Kindle 2 fan…but…

    • KRibbons

      Kindle is going to get killed by this

      • Momo

        I dunno..the more I read about the Ipad the more I actually don’t want it. From the way they light it (hard on the eyes if you’re an avid reader!) to the bulkiness of it, compared to the Kindle at least…But..still waiting to hear word of mouth reviews once people actually start owning this.

  • Brynna

    Too much! I’d rather just keep my iphone and get a macbook one day.

  • iCrapple

    Why would anyone buy this overpriced toy. If I was going to spend $500 on a computer, I would buy a fully functional netbook. I could even get a touch screen, but would prob skip it because I like to be able to see what I am working on.

    • Scott

      “Fully functional netbook” hahahahahahahahahahhaha, oh the comedy.

    • Dwight K Schrute

      You’re an idiot.

    • Kate

      If you travel for a living, and I mean live in hotels and airports for 8 months of the year and your suitcase is your house, then you would want this item with you. It’s not meant to be a laptop, no comparison and if you call it crap, you could essentially call all e-book readers crap. As an Apple enthusiast, I see that this machine just made my life as an international tour guide EASIER and more light weight. Not every product is for everyone, no need to bash it, but for me, it fills a need and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

      • machunny

        ^^What she just said. ^^

      • tee

        What they said

      • nik

        I completely agree! I dont travel alot but this yr I will be and I have a fashion consulting business and I love books! THIS IS A MUST HAVE for me….People expected way to much and like you said no need to bash it if it doesnt fit wat they want.

      • oPad

        Isn’t it interesting how people are coming up with all of these reasons “not” to get an iPad? Naming all the stuff it “doesn’t” do.
        It’s like making a list of all the things a “work of art” doesn’t do, therefore don’t acquire art for your home.
        There are “some” things created simply to “inspire”.

        As an accomplished artist, I’ve been using SKETCH PADS since childhood. Maybe it’s an art thang, but I LOOOOVE the name iPad! Perhaps the iPad is “not” for accountants, business people or factory workers. Maybe it’s functional art made “only” for artists, tour guides and fashion consultants – FINE! If it’s just a big ol’ toy for creatives to enhance their lofty lives it’s OK by me.

        I already own a workhorse laptop. If I only use the iPad to immerse myself in Picasso art books or killer Ragdoll Apos, will it kill ya’ to set the HaterAid aside for a moment and allow one to enjoy some of the inspired possibilities of life?
        I can’t wait to store a whole comic book collection, while publishing on my own graphic novel.

        I guarantee that children learning to doodle on the iPad today will watch their fingers transform into phenomenal drawing tools as adults.

        So, keep bashing this nifty-gizmo that promises nothing but a bit of fun and a few million creative apps. While you’re hard at work multitasking your behinds off, we will bravely experiment with the art of ease, and continue to play with iPad’s intriguing possibilities.

  • iCrapple

    This thing doesn’t even have a real OS. The iphone OS can barely cut&paste. What a POS.

    • Dwight K Schrute

      You’re a total idiot.

  • Britney

    it would be easier to jusy buy a netbook or those mini laptops

    • Hank Moody

      Sure, if you want something that’s going to break.

  • Emilee

    I really love the idea of an iBook store. It would also be really cool if you could get a magazine subscription that downloads new issues automatically to your iPad.

    • Rhonda

      You mean like the Kindle does?

  • Kaiulani

    I’ve been waiting on buying a Kindle till this came out, but I really don’t need another mini computer. That is what my netbook,laptop and Blackberry are for. Don’t worry Amazon, I’ll be ordering my Kindle very soon.

    • Candice

      Why would you want to carry around your Netbook, Laptop, Kindle and Blackberry when the IPAD does all four?!

      • Amber J

        I can’t comment on the netbook, but the iPad will never fully cover all the functionality on a laptop or blackberry, so you’d at least have to carry around those 3 devices. As for replacing the kindle – the fact that there’s no backlighting (and no associated eyestrain) is a huge benefit of e-ink technology. So whether someone would buy the iPad and stop using a Kindle is arguable – if you read occasionally, maybe, but if you’re reading 1-2 books a week (like myself), that’s a whole lot of eyestrain to give you second thought.

      • Hank Moody

        Amber, what functionality on a Blackberry do you think the iPad will be missing?

      • sam


        the ability to make a phone call.

      • Laraine

        Funny. Some people work all day on computers and they don’t complain about eyestrain. What’s the difference?

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    • Mas

      Hi, A, for both of those devices you can get QuckOffice app that wlaols editing of Microsoft Office files and you can get to Google docs in the web browser. On-screen keyboard is pretty large for typing. I think (and experts agree) that Kindle Fire is one underpowered device to be called a media tablet. Just released next generation Nook Tablet from Barnes Noble clearly is the superior device. It is $224 if sign up for Barnes Noble membership or $250 without signup. Not just 11.5 hours battery life but 9 hours of video playback time that’s vs. 8 hours for reading and 7.5 hours of video playback on Kindle Fire (even that 7.5 hours will not hold true in tests, video playback drains battery much more than reading.) 1.0 GB RAM Vs. 512 MB RAM of Kindle Fire, 16 GB content capacity plus 32 GB via microSD card vs. 8 GB capacity of Kindle Fire with no expansion slot. Fully laminated HD screen for reduced glare vs. no lamination of Kindle Fire. Bulit-in and optimized Netflix and Hulu plus with millions of movies/shows vs. 100K movies/shows of Amazon store. Nook Tablet has built-in mic for Skype voice conferencing and dictations to speech recognition software and it weights only 14.1 oz. Nook already has Cloud as all eBooks in your online library are stored there as well as downloaded to your device.Also, If you walk in with the Nook to Barnes Noble store, you’re allowed to read ANY available eBook for free while in the store via free provided in the store Wi-Fi and you get free technical support in case of issues in any of the store.You can buy Nook’s at Barnes Noble, Books-A-Millon, Walmart, BestBuy, Staples, OfficeMax, Fred Mayer, P.C. Richard, Radio Shack, Target, Fry’s, etc. stores and web sites.

  • skiiboski

    Meh, I’ll wait for Apple to design a pocket-sized robot that reads books to me, the iWeebot.

    • Shamrock

      Is that a robot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

  • Cave2183

    It’s like a Netbook and it doesn’t have a phone or any backlighting. I was thinking this could be my all-in-one device…guess not! —

  • brian

    a lot of celebrity musicians have been weighing in on the ipad. John Mayer loves it. Q-Tip not so much.

    • alex

      ya, cause their opinions count.

      • Sofiane

        This girl is a READING MACHINE! She told me she read yesterday’s eechrimnnt book ON THE BUS!! I can’t keep up with her! How is Nancy Drew? Hope I picked a good one Let me know Chloe!PS- I’m so very proud of you! Your a Rockin’ Reader!

  • lni

    What about library access? Any word on whether I will be able to check out ebooks for a certain length of time? That’s what I’m waiting for, although as a voracious reader and Apple fan, this is very tempting.

    • toodles

      voracious reader of pulp?

      • Isidro

        I want one, but I am too werriod it might burn my household down if I don’t keep it in an ash tray.

  • markmarks

    IPad ? What a name! I want the small one – you know the mini one – think it’s called an IPod or something. Seriously it’s an oversized IPhone, so hey why not just call it a BPhone (big phone) or a DPhone (DirtyPhone), you know that screens gonna get so dirty from putting your fingers all over it…lol. Also these types of things have been around for years but apple loves to act like they made everything first. Remember when mp3 players came out? Apple didn’t invent them. But they still went ahead and claimed an IPod to be something special.
    Check this out…

    • Margie

      Clearly a woman wasn’t involved in naming this!

    • Inga

      Dan, thanks for the look at the iPad praftolm. Here’s how as an avid reader, I use the iPad and how it’s affected me, in the real world I subscribe to both the Times and Globe Readers, and would faithfully download each very a.m. I’m not as faithful anymore Instead, I now use a site (and app) called Instapaper. With a free account, you click and save stories you’re interested in, from whatever site, and after a quick sync with the iPad and/or iPhone, you have your custom paper ready wherever you have browser access to your account, or from your sync’ed device. I typically download 20 or so stories of interest every day (news, politics, media, sports, and tech mostly, from about 10 newspaper sites). This saves me from printing also.I have asked the Times in a random survey they sent me to move the Times Reader content to the iPad ASAP. I like the free Editor’s Choice more and more, but I’m willing to pay and I do want all the content, and I don’t want to click and zoom around the site in a browser to get it. I asked them to move the GlobeReader content, also.Books: I have about 50 books from the Apple iBookstore, and from Amazon, Barnes Noble and Borders. For a reader, this may be the greatest innovation of my lifetime. Essentially carrying as many books with you as you want, in a little leather-bound tablet the size of one of those books, is nirvana.Magazines: Another sweet spot. I’ve used Zinio for years and love it. The only think I hate about it is that I have less reason to go to the real newsstand. I have about 100 Zinio magazines on my iPad (all the car magazines, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sound Vision, ESPN . they have a huge selection). The best part is the price. For many of these magazines, the one-year subscription is similar to or less than what you’d pay to get them through the mail. Without looking, I think it was $9.99 for a year of Car and Driver. A single issue is $5 or $6, so the subscription’s a no-brainer. Again, ALL THESE MAGAZINES, in my hands all the time!More magazines: Some not available through Zinio are the Time Warner titles like Sports Illustrated, and as you mentioned, Time. Yes, they are way too expensive. I don’t see a technical reason for this. Currently, you buy each issue in-app. They could easily sell an app version with a subscription range of however many issues you’d like, at a discount. Having said that, I have been buying both of those titles, because I enjoy reading them on the iPad. I intend to pick and choose more diligently going forward, however.Even more magazines: Vanity Fair and GQ (and Wired) are purchased in-app, like the Time Warner titles, but I think they’re a dollar or so less than the print versions. That’s trending in the right direction. Also, I pick and choose two UK Apple-related titles, iCreate and MacUser, at a huge discount over their print versions, which can go from $9.99-$16.99 over here. The UK titles are purchased inside an app, like the Time Warner and Conde Nast titles. Overall, I like the Zinio model, where one icon brings you to your whole library (as opposed to a separate icon for each magazine).I’ve been playing with the (over-) hyped Flipboard app, and I like it more and more. It’s better than the stand-alone Twitter apps, and great for Facebook. One downside that they’re correcting is you need to be online currently to use it. It needs the download-and-go option of the other media apps, above.Newspapers: The WSJ app is outstanding. A model for all others. The NYT Editor’s Choice is growing on me, as I said, but needs to be replaced with the Reader app. USA Today is currently free so I download and go (why not?). a0I also pack and load the Reuters and NPR apps, and the Financial Times (which has too many clicks to accomplish simple tasks, but presents itself great and is handy).As a baseball fan, you’d love the MLB app worth the price of the iPad by itself.The bottom line for me is, I’ve cut down lugging laptops, newspapers, books and magazines. In that way, the iPad has been a lifestyle changer.

  • Josh

    It’s funny how no one has mentioned that this device will also allow you to read all Kindle books as well as the epub. Amazon has a Kindle iphone/touch app already. If the ipad uses all iphone/touch apps, then it’s also a Kindle format reader as well as an epub reader. More expensive than all models of the Kindle, but the 16 gig model is only marginally more expensive than the Kindle DX and does so much more.

    • Tom

      Amazon will at least need to update to take advantage of the larger screen, if not a complete redesign to be on par with the iBooks app. The app will run as-is, but only at iPhone resolution 320×200.

      I want to know if only iPad will be the only device that can purchase and read iBooks. If so, what if there’s no wireless? what if it is iStolen or iLost?
      Presumably iTunes will enable purchase and transfer to iPad, but are they going to tack on a viewer as well?

  • meghan

    The real question is whether or not there is any sort of software involved to make reading for hours on end easier on the eyes. E-readers like the Nook and Kindle have e-ink technology, which helps to reduce the eye strain that comes with continuous screen-staring, and whether the iPad can offer something similar is an important distinction. If I had to read something like Under the Dome entirely on a computer screen, my eyes would probably melt into a milky goo.

    Am i missing the answer to this question?

    • Tom

      iTab will automatically adjust screen brightness in response to ambient light. Mismatch is one common cause of computer eyestrain (particularly too-bright screens), so that should help some.

    • Jeremy

      hopefully F.lux will be available for the ipad, it’s a must if you read a lot, especially at night. It automatically adjusts your screens color temperature, makes looking at the screen for hours really easy on the eyes.

    • Laraine

      Funny how continuous screen-staring by computer operators doesn’t seem to bother them. At least I don’t hear any complaints and I never experienced any myself when I spent 8-10 hours a day staring at a Mac screen. So why should the iPad be different?

  • KRibbons

    Holy Lord in Heaven, this is the best product in the entire world.

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