No iPod of Books? Really?

Well, no sooner have I declared that the e-book would be unlikely to find its own iPod, I read  that Apple are reportedly in contact with print publishers in preparation for a rumoured new tablet-like device. It seems unlikely that Apple would opt to create a dedicated e-reader like Amazon's kindle. More likely is a complete lower spec computer (to compete with those tiny 'netbooks') that includes dedicated e-reader software built in. Something between a small laptop and an iPhone with a screen you can actually read on without getting a headache. I can't see them using an e-paper display either since e-reading would be only one feature of such a device.

It's intriguing. And encouraging.

Apple themselves have, typically, said nothing. This is all rumour and speculation; however, such rumour and speculation have proven remarkably accurate in the past. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, famously declared that Apple would never consider creating an e-book reader since 'no one reads any more'. Though he also once said that video was pointless on an iPod since no one wants to watch movies on a tiny screen. Before that he said colour screens were pointless on an iPod since the device was 'all about the music'. So he's pretty flexible with his opinions, especially when his company has a product in the pipeline.

Should it emerge as promised, would this newfangled thingo finally be the iPod of books? While I'm anxious to see what kind of technology might be employed in making e-reading a more pleasant experience, I'm somewhat ambivalent about what it may mean. Yes, Apple make nice products. But Apple is not a publisher and its purpose is not to help writers connect with readers. It means, like in the music industry, a technology company is to set the rules in the digital world. If the publishing industry does not take a more active role, it will be in danger of being elbowed out of the way, possibly to detriment of readers and writers.

Already there is already talk of what kind of DRM the device might employ, proving that absolutely nothing has been learned from the music industry DRM fiasco and how infantile the industry's current approach is toward digital publishing.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope these things can be sorted out before this mythical device finally makes its debut and I hope the device rocks and sets a standard for e-reading that broadens its appeal to the mainstream.

Do I hope in vain? We'll see.