What I Think All This Means for Print


The iTunes Store blows massive chunks compared to buying music off of Amazon. And it's still completely DRM-ridden, which is supposedly a big deal, while Amazon's MP3 store isn't. And that's a business that Apple had a head start in. Amazon has the best BOOK sales interface in the world. Apple's is, by your own description, shitty.

In addition, the iPad, while it can do more things, is many, many times more expensive because of the monthly contract. In a few years you'll have spent a couple of grand on the thing. The Kindle is a one-time cost.

I'm not convinced. Obviously Apple has partisans who will buy anything they put out, but they aren't readers; or, at least, readers are not going to drive sales of this device (any more than making phone calls drives iPhones). The Kindle still has a market there. Assuming they continue to improve the thing (not a certainty).
You're correct.

Not only is the Kindle dead, but so is DADT.
What to do about comic shops. I love them so much, and for every Isotope (SF) and The Dreaming (Seattle) there are plenty Comic Stops (Lynnwood) and St Marks Comics (NYC). They are kinda doomed, and hopefully they wont die until printed reading material dies.
Interesting series of articles you've put out on this.

I think you put your finger on one topic that is getting glossed over - that it was never really about the technology or the innovation, so much as it was Apple muscling their way to the top of a market niche that already exists.
@1: iTunes is "still completely DRM-ridden"? Uh, no.

Apparently you've never tried to buy any videos. Still filled with DRM. So much so, that sometimes you can't even watch them on your own monitor.


You don't have to buy a contract with it. Each iPad will come with built in wireless cards. If you want to take advantage of a 3G network you have the option of purchasing a plan.

Not true. There is a wifi only version and a version with a 3G radio. The 3G radio adds $130 to the cost of the iPad, and then you have to pay a monthly fee if you want to use it. Plus, it will only work with AT&T in the United States (Technically it can use T-Mobile, but only for EDGE not 3G).
I think it is WAY TOO EARLY to be pronouncing Kindle dead. Frankly, I was very underwhelmed at the iPad unveiling. I think the iPad is actually going to iFlop. And I'm a recovering Apple fanboy (reduction in income = no snazzy new premium devices for me).

@6: I know how the videos are there, but that doesn't make all of iTunes "completely DRM-ridden".

@7: Keep in mind that the SIM card tray only exists on the 3G model. If you buy the wifi-only version then you can't just "turn on 3G" later down the line.
I've seen that bookcase metaphor in an iPhone app -- was it Stanza?? I wondered, when I saw that at the "unveiling" if Apple had bought Stanza and made it over for its own needs.

I think that the iPad is going to show its worth in the future, not so much right now. It'll be up to all the businesses (including the indies) to make use of this to get to the consumers.

That's right. My point is it is not required to purchase a 3G plan to use the iPad. You can still use it for all of its intended purposes with just the wireless connection.
@1: iPod uses the ePub ebook format, so it is actually less encumbered with drm than Amazon's proprietary ebook format. Theoretically you could load your own ebooks from other sources onto the device, which I believe you can't do on a kindle. And as someone else pointed out, 3G data has no contract, and the IPad has wifi, so there doesn't have to be any further cost.
Paul, what exactly is the added value that publishers provide in this scenario? As far as I can tell, zero (marketing is the wrong answer, BTW). Ebooks only require formatting (easy) and distribution (provided by iBookstore). The new model is authors selling direct to the customer. Publishers are irrelevant.
Fnarf, you're funny.
"formatting (easy)"

I wish. That's one of my biggest gripes with my Kindle so far -- hopelessly fucked-up formatting. Yes, publishers will often give you a new one after they fix it -- after you tell them its fucked up. I'm talking about thousands and thous ands of fu ckedu psp a cingissues.

The iPad is going to have them too, because publishers mistakenly believe that all you have to do is click "OK" to successfully convert a book.

One of the things that I hate about ebooks in general is the notion that there's no such thing as book design, that fonts and layout don't matter so we'll all just use the one. That's a lie. One of the main things that keeps me from reading on my Kindle more is the ugliness of the pages.

One thing that might make me consider an iPad is displaying graphical PDFs, not just textual ones. One thing I really want to do with my Kindle but can't is snag pages out of my Complete New Yorker and read them on the go -- you can, but they're page images, not text. No dice.
@15, am I funny because I don't automatically take a "Apple is God" or "Apple is shit" (or a "Kindle is God" or "Kindle is shit") position without trying to think it through?
Fnarf...nice try, but you miss a lot:

1) The iTunes Store blows massive chunks? You may not like it, but it's the number 1 music retailer in the US, and as others have pointed out, they've removed DRM on all the songs.

2) compared to buying music off of Amazon. ummm...Fnarf, you do realize that the Kindle is not a music player? Even if there are ways to rig it to play an mp3, so what's the point of the comparison here?

3) And that's a business that Apple had a head start in.

And a business that they are currently KICKING ASS in. Is there a point you're trying to make?

4) Amazon has the best BOOK sales interface in the world.
But, guess what...it's RIDDLED with DRM!!!!

5) Apple's is, by your own description, shitty.

Nobody has actually been able to experience the Apple bookstore yet, so this may be a tad premature, no?

6) In addition, the iPad, while it can do more things, is many, many times more expensive because of the monthly contract.

Contract is not required, and comparing it to the kindle is pointless. When you can download a full-length movie for free on the Kindle, then let's talk. This just makes you look like you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

7) I'm not convinced.

Maybe check back when you get a clue.

Isn't the Kindle only like $250 though?
@19...$250 for small version, $489 for larger version. Larger version is comparable in screen size to the iPad.

The current "regular" Kindle is $259.
The larger Kindle DX is $489.

by the way, you can load non-amazon books onto your kindle. if you buy them elsewhere, though, you need to strip the drm first. but i read all kinds of books on my kindle - amazon, gutenberg, library - and it all works just fine.
Ah, well, carry on then.
@14: I think once you strip everything else away, what publishers provide is editorial support and branding. If a publisher is doing their job, they have made the book into a more professional product. I will always give a book from Knopf, for instance, more initial attention when I get it in the mail than a self-published book, because I know that Knopf has very good editors who are very talented at finding and nurturing excellent talent.

Publishers need to be smaller on the whole, but they perform a valuable service. Trust me, I get a lot of self-published titles, and I can tell you that the service publishers perform is valuable.
Infoworld agrees that the iPad is the Kindle-killer.

Proving once again that Fnarf needs to stick to music commentary.
Will in Seattle has definitely seemed 30-40 IQ points smarter than Fnarf lately.
I'm wondering if the iPad will be too heavy to comfortably hold in one hand for reading. It's not often mentioned, but the ergonomics of using the Kindle are very nice, since you can hold it in one hand and read easily while, say, hanging onto a bus rail or something like that. The DX is not comfortable to read one handed, and it's actually a pain in the ass as a consequence. It appears to me that the iPad will have the same problem. Sometimes less really is more, and for an e-Reader, it seems like going much past the 6" screen results in a two-handed device, and that really does kind of suck.
My point about the iTunes music store was a personal one: I think it sucks massive donkey dicks. I am aware that it is popular, presumably because everybody's got to have the new Taylor Swift or whatever it is. That doesn't make it good, anymore than Sam Goody's used to be a good record store (or B. Dalton's a good bookstore).

The reason I bring it up is because the same people are going to be running the iPad book store, and, as Paul has already shown, the current incarnation, with the books on the faux wooden shelves, looks shitty. Apple's never done books before. I think the chances are, based on these facts, that they will do a shitty job. I also think that it may not matter, because none of you Apple fanboys read anything. Except comics, apparently.

I might be wrong, but I don't think anybody's going to want this without a contract. Maybe they will; maybe people will tether it up to their PC and move media off and on it. But that seems to me to kill a lot of its advantage. It's just a big iPod then. And if you're going to be a "Kindle killer" you'd better have always-on instant book browsing and downloads, which means you're going to have to have a contract. Now you're talking about $250 versus a couple grand again.

Your point about DRM and Amazon applies only to their Kindle store. They've been selling books for a hell of a lot longer than they've been selling Kindles, and they know how to do it. They understand a deep stock in a way that Apple doesn't, I don't think. Not when it comes to books.

What Amazon's successful move into MP3 retailing (in terms of store organization and depth of stock) shows is that they're flexible enough to move. Apple hasn't proven that to me. I'm in iTunes a couple of hours a day, pooting around (mostly correcting bad CDDB or other disc data), but I'll never even look at the store. I look in Amazon's MP3 store daily (and buy a couple of times a week). No, the Kindle doesn't do MP3s (well, it does, but you'd be crazy to use it), but I DO; I have an iPod. Apple's track record as a media retailer is extremely pertinent here.

@26, if you can offer even a single example of Will in Seattle contributing anything of interest to anyone, let alone anything of more interest than my comments, however weak you find them, feel free to share. I know I've never seen one.
Is this an iPod touch for the elderly and other folks who need seriously strong reading glasses?
@18: You can play MP3s on a Kindle.

Nuhhyaaaaaah. . . thinking? Not encouraged by Our Turtlenecked Leader. Apple is, in fact, God. Viva Apple.
@30, yes, you can, but I can't imagine wanting to. I've never played one on mine. It's not a viable music player; it's more like the way your washing machine has a digital clock on it. Doesn't make it a good clock.
@ 17, actually, you are a big anti-Apple guy. If you're not, you should think about some of the screeds you've written and ask yourself if that's really representative of how you feel about them.

For the record, I'm generally pro-Mac and pro-Apple. Their products are not as good as the hype suggests, and they certainly don't mind screwing you via things like abandoning support, absurd battery-replacement fees, and restrictive contracts (iPhone and now, apparently, iPad), but I've read some of your opinions and decided you're one of those guys who really figured out PC's when they were harder to work than a Toyota engine, and now kind of look down on people who don't want to go to that much effort.

I may be wrong, but that's the impression you gave me.
@33, I don't know what your problem is, but you're wrong here. I am a former Mac owner. I own other Apple products -- my iPod rules the world. I can use Macs when I need to (when I'm using a friend's computer). I use Windows PCs because I have to; Macs simply do not work with much of the software I need to support. You haven't heard my screeds on the subjects of Windows computers (and I spend four or five hours a day swearing at Windows computers) because the subject doesn't come up very often, for the simple reason that Windows computers are not the subject of a religious disputation. They're just there. It's not Macs I abhor; it's Mac owners, to be honest. The smugness just pongs off of them, and their conversation always revolves around "which is better", which is a terminally stupid point of reference.

But that's neither here nor there, because this thing isn't a Mac, and it's not up against Windows. It's a pretty attractive device, but I think anyone who says "iPad is the Kindle-killer" without thinking about it any further is displaying symptoms of Mac fandom. Not a good sign. I think it's interesting that so many people here are so instantly dismissive of the Kindle reading experience, and so supportive of the iPad one, when they have never used either. But then, most iPhone users I suppose just use the thing to fiddle with, not anything useful. Some of them have paid more than $4,000 for the privilege.
Well...Fnarf...it is a Kindle Killer as far as I'm concerned. For my spending dollar, the iPad just gives me so much more. I think the Kindle is a fine device. And, I was really close to buying one. But, the Kindle is not a perfect device, and I think it is vastly overpriced for what it does.

Also, for the record, the faux-bookshelf is not the Apple Bookstore, that was the storage space for books that exist already on the iPad.

Finally...why pitt Apple store against the Amazon store at all? The Kindle App will run on the iPad, meaning I can use Amazon for books if I want to, and the Apple bookstore when I want. I can buy mp3's from Amazon or music from iTunes, both of which I can play on the iPad.

The only thing I can't do on the iPad that I can do on a Kindle is stare at an e-ink screen. That's a feature that has a benefit but in side-by-side comparison, that benefit shrinks dramatically.

Yes, I like Apple products. But, taking me for a dupe because of that is laughable. I care a lot about how I spend my tech dollars, and I never buy an Apple product unless I'm convinced it has value for the dollars spent. And, my track record thus far with Apple is pretty damn good.
@ 34, thanks for the clarification. My "problem" (which is a misunderstanding on your part if you think I have a problem), again, is that's how you come across. You tend toward the sweeping generalization at times, and usually it's only Microsoft drones who have an issue with Macheads.
I like the bookshelf - it reminds me of the interface for Delicious Library.

I still don't think anyone is going to buy the iPad to read books, though it will probably suck in a lot of casual readers who buy this device to have something to use the interwebs and keep them entertained while they travel. The Kindle, until it becomes much less expensive, will remain what it always has been - attractive to people who travel and/or read a lot. (I do both) My advice to people who ask about mine remains unchanged: if you read for more than a couple hours a day or travel a lot with a lot of books/academic papers, you'd probably love a Kindle. If you think you'll get your money's worth out of it in two years, go ahead and buy one. If you don't, you should wait and see what's on the market in another year or so.

One thing relatively unsung about the Kindle is its newspaper interface. It's not for everyone - if you like to be greeted in the morning by the actual front page layout with the ability to click and zoom, get that Apple Tablet. The Kindle version is way more linear.. But I'm a front to back sort of person who hates flipping pages, so I like to just turn it on when I get on the road in the morning and have it read aloud to me the continuing story of Mystery Obama ("bama" like Alabama) in our post nine over eleven world. By the time I've dropped the husband off at work I've "read" the whole front section. You kids in Seattle wouldn't understand, though, you still have decent radio where you are.
All this discussion actually makes me like my Sony Reader even more... because using it is basically just like reading a book. Like a book, it doesn't make phone calls, surf the net, or play music (unless you get the fancy version, which I didn't). The Sony e-Bookstore is relatively non-annoying also.


Sorry for being such an idiot, but what is DRM?
So anyway. They show the books on the shelves cover out so you can see what the books are. I mean, why show them spine out? Just because that's how they're shelved in an actual book store, with everyone walking around with their necks bent?
I took the whole day off from work so I could play "World of Warcraft" and watch porn on my ipad! I'll never understand why you all whine about books and magazines and blah blah blah when every new device just makes the good stuff better and better!
Everyone wins, everyone loses

I own both AAPL and AMZN - both are doing swimmingly thanks for asking.

But for reading nothing quite beats the joy of the device with the least amount of risk that it will – crash, run out of batteries, not read certain file formats, have connectivity issues, and the other tech nightmares that can and do come up all the time. I give you the book ladies and gents.