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The iPad to Ruin the Book Publishing Industry?

Some say there has been a lot of hoopla about Apple’s new tablet, the iPad but does it really live up to the hype? Some speak of the device as if it is the Messiah that the publishing industry has been waiting for. Others say that devices such as the iPad, not only ruin the reader’s traditional reading experience but also with the sale of eBooks will help drive down the costs of traditional books. Is it really the be-all and end all of the new book publishing industry?

We had the opportunity to interview Scott Steinberg, publisher and lead technology analyst for DigitalTrends.com, about his take on the eReader. Steinberg is also an author of three books and his site receives over 40 million unique visitors every month. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about technology.

We asked for him his take on the iPad and here it is what Steinberg had to say:

“While there will always be a market for dedicated, single-function devices such as eReaders like the nook and Kindle, Apple’s iPad seriously threatens to undermine their value (especially pricier units such as Plastic Logic’s QUE proReader), given its multifaceted approach to computing, which allows for a variety of functions, not just browsing digital literature–and saves shoppers the trouble of packing still more devices into their already bulging briefcases and carry-ons.”


“Just as importantly, iBooks looks to provide a simple, elegant and intuitive means of browsing, purchasing and enjoying digital content, making the experience of flipping through favorite novels or publications in virtual format much more of an engaging and organic experience than you’d find on current eReaders: A major coup for Apple, which makes it much easier to educate shoppers as to the benefits of the iPad platform, and show them why it’s so compelling with the flick of a finger.

“Rather than kill the eReader category off entirely though, I suspect that the device will serve more of a complementary function, offering users interested in browsing digital books, magazines and newspapers a viable alternative to these platforms, especially as back catalogues, publisher relationships and author exclusives become more prevalent as vendors attempt to leverage existing relationships throughout the channel into exclusive content deals for each device.

“That said, there’s tremendous potential here for the iPad to upend the category entirely via its integration of other tablet computing features into the reading experience–e.g. streaming multimedia (providing instant access to supplementing sound and video clips), broadband Internet (letting users instantly tap to research a subject or pull up related headlines) and third-party apps (providing a means to discover more works by a related author, discuss impressions with other fans, etc.)–which can provide a much richer and more robust digital browsing and reading experience.

“Still, exciting a prospect as the iPad is for those interested in the digital publishing space, it’s still going to be a ways before enough of the devices find their way into everyday users’ hands given a lack of familiarity with the gizmo and its inherent value proposition, as well as the not inconsiderable $499 minimum price (this before monthly data plan and accessories too), which will preclude it from enjoying the same adoption rates as the iPhone.

“But while it may not completely reinvent the rules of digital publishing in 2010, I have no doubt that within 18-24 months, you’ll begin to see the iPad have a major impact on the way both publishing houses and casual readers look at the digital publishing space, which the gadget should provide a major boon to in coming years.”

For more information on Steinberg, please visit: http://www.digitaltrends.com

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