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Can Apple Make the eBook a Success?

According to this report on Engadget, the next version of Apple’s iPod product might support ebooks. My thoughts on this:

  • As I’ve said all too often, simply porting the print book as is won’t excite many people. However, for fiction and other non-reference works, being able to read it on a device you almost always have with you isn’t a bad thing.
  • Even if they double the size of the latest video iPod screen, could you imagine reading off something like that for an hour or so? I can’t.
  • The killer application in all of this might not be books in the traditional sense, but rather shorter pieces of content and news feeds. If you could synch your iPod up with The New York Times, USAToday, cnet, etc., with feeds that are written and formatted with the portable (small) screen in mind, this could be hot. Red hot. Why take a paper or magazine on the train when you can have the content you want on your iPod? Here’s what’s also very cool about this: You can listen to your favorite songs while you read the latest news, all from the same device. Let’s just hope they come up with a battery solution that will provide enough listening/reading time.
  • Maybe this last item is where Microsoft should focus its efforts with their Zune platform. Using wireless to snoop each other’s playlists and download songs doesn’t sound too interesting to me. Being able to have a live connection to always keep your newsfeeds fresh on the device, now that’s something I’d pay a monthly fee for.


Joseph A. di Paolantonio

I've been using Palm/Motricity eBooks on my Palm for years now. And with the 4GB Lifedrive, I'm now using, my entire eBook library doesn't even make a dent. The screen size, font size [controllable] and weight are all perfect for reading. Illustrations can be zoomed to full-screen size or beyond [and panned].

Some reference works that are available in Adobe Acrobat/eBook reader for the Palm are OK, but Adobe has done an horrible job with figures and tables.

For feeds, I've been using Newsgator Mobile on the Palm, which works well. I also use AvantGo for content retention when I'm not connected via WiFi or Bluetooth/GPRS.

But as you say, it's not just the format, it's the relevancy of the information that is important as well.

Joe Wikert

Hi Joseph. Thanks for weighing in. Great observations. Knowing Apple, if this e-book feature is indeed part of the next generation of iPods you can bet they (Apple) will have a few (pleasant) surprises in the implementation...

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