The new Apple iPad, as widely anticipated, will have an e-book reader built-in to the device. The iBooks app displays a bookshelf of all your titles alá Delicious Library or the Classics iPhone app. When you tap a book to read, you can tap on the right or left edge to flip the page or drag the page manually. When looking at your bookshelf, there is also a button to the iBook Store to purchase books.
The iBookstore will allow for browsing and purchasing books on the iPad. What is exciting is that this new feature will rely on the ePub standard rather than some proprietary Apple format. ePub was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum and works on several devices and platforms like the Sony Reader and Adobe Digital Editions for your desktop computer. You can think of it as the “MP3″ of e-book formats.
Five large publishers (Penguin, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, and Simon & Schuster) announced support today and the store will be open to other publishers soon. Not surprisingly, McGraw-Hill was not on the list of large publishers today.
So is the iPad a Kindle Killer? I think the biggest advantage that Apple will bring to the e-book reader market is a reading experience that is on par with the Amazon Kindle, but on a multi-purpose device that will have wider appeal. Apple has absolutely nailed the relationship between devices and content stores in the past with the iPod / iTunes Music Store and the iPhone / App Store and I expect that the iPad will nail the e-book experience on both the device and the store.
Sure the iPad starts at $499 and the Kindle starts at $259 and the “E Ink” display is nicer to use outside, but I think a lot of people will consider the extra $240 well spent to get all the extra features of the iPad. When you consider that the iPad offers a full-color LCD screen that can also support video embedded in the iBooks app, I think the iPad will be the biggest e-reader device yet. It will just appeal to a wider audience. The Amazon Kindle is dead.
I am looking forward to curling up with one of these to see what the experience is like. I wonder if the Apple Store will stock the Maxell Blown Away chair that Steve was using on stage to go with it as an accessory?