The iPad will be coming out in just a few days. There’s a good chance that shortly thereafter, as soon as 3G versions are available in stores, I will have my hands on Apple’s newest product. One of the principal reasons that I will be purchasing the iPad is to be my e-book reader. I have been an avid reader my entire life, and as something of a technologist as well, I have been waiting for e-books for as long as I can remember.
Amazon, obviously, got the ball really rolling with the Kindle after years of stagnation in the market. Apple is going toe to toe with them with the launch of the iBookstore. So when I have an iPad in hand I’m going to be faced with a choice, use Apple’s iBooks solution, or stick with Amazon’s Kindle platform.
I’ve been thinking about this ever since the iPad was announced, going back and forth on the issue. On the one hand I have already made an investment in Amazon’s e-book ecosystem, having purchased about 30 books to read on the Kindle app on my iPhone. That’s about $300 invested, but even if I switch to Apple’s iBooks app I can always have the Kindle app sitting next to it on my iPad if I want to read one of those titles. The iBookstore, however, offers several benefits over the Kindle app:
- The ability to purchase books from within the app
- The ability to add any open ePub format book to iTunes and sync it over
- The rumored 30,0000 public domain books that will be available
Given these benefits it might seem like a slam dunk to move over to iBooks, but I’ve decided against it, for one simple reason: cross-platform compatibility.
For me, books are a long-term investment. If I like a book I’m going to read it two, five or even 10 times, and some of my favorite books from my teenage years I’ve read so many times I can’t even remember how many times I’ve picked them up. Books, including e-books, I buy today aren’t something that I’ll one and done like a television episode or even a movie — these are things that I’ll want to be able to access in 10 or 20 years. Given that, it’s important for me to pick an e-book platform that I know will be able to follow me as my tastes and needs for hardware change. What happens if I decide in five years that I don’t want to use Apple products anymore? If I invest heavily into the iBoookstore those books will be lost to me, but with the Kindle there’s a good chance that I’ll be able to read those books on a future Android device, or a Windows tablet or something we don’t even know of today but that I might be using.
It’s hard for me, as an Apple fanboy, to consider the possibility that Apple may not be able to meet my computing needs in the future. But I care more about books than I do about Apple and so I need to be honest with myself about this. When push comes to shove, it’s more important for me to have my books than it is for me to have Apple’s products, and that’s never going to change. So when the iPad comes out and I have one in my hands I’ll be reading my books in the Kindle app.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: Evolution of the e-Book Market