The new era starts... tomorrow • 2 April 2010 • The SnowBlog

The new era starts... tomorrow

If you have a moment - and you haven't already done this - why not have a look at the e-book capabilities of Apple's new iPad. Go here, click on the video, and see what you think. To me it looks sensational. Us Snowbookers always used to say that 'one day' Apple would release an 'iBook' (or whatever it would be called) and then we'd see whether the world liked reading e-books or not. Well, tomorrow, that's happening. And this is just Apple's first try. They've shown, with the iPhone especially, that they're pretty good at a) getting it right first time and b) building on that success slowly but surely. So does anyone think this won't be big? And do remember that the iPad is not just a handheld computer with e-book-reader software, it's also a platform for apps. You must have seen the TV adverts for apps on the iPhone, so you know what I'm talking about. Already there's what looks like an amazingly cool interactive encyclopedia about the periodic table. Go here for a glimpse - though foolishly they don't seem to have created a movie to give you a proper sense of what's on offer. (Edit: BoingBoing have a video review of the app here, if you want to see what I'm talking about.) Apparently, the iPad will give you more or less instant access to all the out-of-copyright books on Gutenberg. And I very much like the idea of jumping to a phrase you remember or tapping a word to get a definition (or presumably a Wikipedia explanation either now or soon). I suppose the downside is that this is a gadget for the rich, by which I mean that it's only in reach of maybe 50% of the population of North America, Europe, Japan et al. And even then you need a computer and an internet connection. (Which actually doesn't seem too restrictive in 2010.) And I accept the following drawbacks - none of which happen to matter to me: 1) if you drop it in the bath it will probably be irreparably damaged 2) it will not smell like a book 3) you cannot use it to build an ego-wall of all the books you have ever read 4) there may be an intangible feeling you get from a paper book which your sub-conscious will choose not to extend to an iPad (though be aware, lots of people will have the opposite experience: i.e. feel awed by a futuristic gadget in a way that a stack of paper glued down one side will never achieve.) And the darn thing isn't even primarily a book reader. There's all this other amazing stuff you can do on it, so (the theory goes) you'll probably have it with you anyway for e-mail, watching movies, web-surfing, games, etc; so why carry paper books as well? Mind you, Cory Doctorow's theory is that any device that does other, eye-catching things, like let you check your e-mail, will be so distracting that few people will read long-form fiction on it. So any thoughts?
And if tomorrow weren't significant enough anyway, what with it being the day the publishing industry gets its first proper glimpse of the future, it's also the day for new Doctor Who. I am, it goes without saying, childishly and unjustifiably excited.


The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

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