So, the iPad is here and along with it the words words words of people rushing to pass judgement on a device based on little more than watching Steve Jobs wave it around for an hour or so. Oh, alright that's harsh, but even for someone with a deep appreciation of Apple's products and design, I find the obsequious fervour of many commentators hard to stomach and my immediate response is to look for holes in Apple's PR veneer. None of which stops me from actually buying their stuff. I mean, seriously, look at the the alternatives. I guess what I'm talking about is an instinctive distrust of being sold something. I don't like TV advertising, I long for a world without car salespeople or real estate agents, and I hold a special loathing for blind brand worship.
Pointless ranting that brings me to the part of today's iPad media blitz that most interests me: the announcement of iBooks. Unfortunately, little time has been spent on the iBook concept other than to show the application that looks an awful lot like the Classics app for the iPhone (apparently pinched, rather than bought, from the original developer...nice). It's integrated with the iBookshop that looks like a nice extension of the App Store or the iTunes store. I guess for those reasons the iBook part wasn't considered as important perhaps as other features like...oh I don't know, take your pick.
So I'm reserving judgement. Readability and ease of use are givens. The texts will be beautiful, the page turning seamless, even the feel in your hand and ease of use in various book-reading staples (bed, the loo, the couch); all of this will work just fine. That's Apple's bread and butter and they won't disappoint. No, what interests me is whether iBooks are proprietary bought-and-owned experience that limits a reader's adaptability. Can iBooks be read only on Apple's app? Can one download iBooks from anywhere and sync them to the iPad? Can a keen reader create their own iBooks from, say, PDF files? How easily can independent authors and publishers access the tools for create and distributing iBooks?
That's the keynote I would have liked to see from Steve, but I understand his primary audience is roughly fifty-fifty tech-geeks and Wall Street.
That's alright. Authors are nothing if not patient.