iPad Book Availability: No Idea

I’m already being asked if my books will be available on the iPad. As Macmillan (which owns Tor) appears to be part of that book thing Apple’s doing with the iPad, my guess is, uh, probably?, at least as far as my Tor books are concerned. Although of course the random and haphazard nature of ebook distribution being what it is, honestly, I can’t say which books and when or anything else.

But more to the point, again, people: Why do you think I know these things? I’m finding out about the iPad at the same time as every other human not working at Apple or one of its partners. I don’t know. Nor, I suspect, does any other author you might wish to ask this question to today. When I do know, I’ll tell you. Beyond that, this post still applies.

(photo above snaked from this iPad unveiling recap from GDGT)

31 thoughts on “iPad Book Availability: No Idea

  1. One of the selling points of the iPad is that it is supposed to be cross-platform compatible, and will play a multitude of ebooks from several formats.

    And, for the poster a couple back, it DOES have a webcam.

  2. Wait, so you’re saying being a published author *doesn’t* automatically make you bosom buddies with Steve Jobs?

    I’m going to have reconsider my life goals. If that’s true.

  3. There are two questions, I think.

    1) Will your books be available in the iBooks store. (The equivalent of the iTunes Store.)

    2) Will your books be available in some form that can be read on the iPadd.

    (Extra ‘d’ added for the Trek fans.)

    Since from the reports I’ve read, Apple is using the ePub format, as long as your readers can download the ePub format somewhere somehow, they should be fine.

    As you state in your post, the answer to #1 is a bit trickier.

  4. Expanding on what Pixelfish said, there’s already a Kindle app for the iPhone, which means that the Kindle editions of OMW and John’s other books will already work on the iPad.

  5. John@0: “But more to the point, again, people: Why do you think I know these things?”

    Because you live in that wondrous place where authors, editors, publishers, and demigods drink ambrosia and create myths to entertain us poor mortals while we wither away to dust.

    I other words, we don’t let facts get in the way of our fantasies.

  6. I don’t expect you to know these things … but if changnotchang is right (and if you can’t trust changnotchang who can you trust?), Ghlaughghee *does*. (As a side effect of omniscience.)

    Why don’t you just ask?

  7. Also, John, most of the people working for Apple found out this morning when you did. My brother-in-law was presumably working on this–he was under a gag order that specifically covered wife, family and immediate coworkers not in on the sekrit projekt. I’m serious, he was under strict orders about locking his office, workstation, keeping prototypes out-of-sight and what-have-you. Apple is notoriously paranoid and has a long history of being nuttier about secrecy than Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works.

    So, yeah, being an Apple employee doesn’t get you out of being surprised.

  8. The Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog has a very good point about the iPad’s name.

    The iPad comes in Light, Maxi, and Super.

    Jesus…

  9. It’s like what they say about Sony: their engineers make something great, and then management and marketing tweak it until it’s virtually useless.

    Fuck Apple and their godsdamned iPad. I’ll read paper books until someone comes out with a great opensource reader.

  10. Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog) offers 100,000 free books whose copyrights have expired. We read “The Wizard of Oz” to my children from this website. Given that amazon offers 415,000 kindle titles, I think that iPad owners will have something to do while they wait for Apple to build up stock in the iBooks store.

    Meanwhile, they can look at – - –

    11 million songs, more than 50,000 TV episodes and more than 8,000 films

  11. The interesting thing is that these devices (all eBook readers) require some kind of power source, not matter 10 hour, or 200 hour between charges.

    I find that book are cool in the way that they can be used everywhere, they don’t need a battery, and you can either put them on a shelve or give them to someone when you’re done with them (of if you really really dislike them, they can give a bit heat when you burn them).

    Now to the rant; the nice thing about book is that one can go to a book store to find them, you do not need to depend on other people like Amazon, or other online places to get them, and you’ll find bookshops the most amazing places, where as wifi or 3G isn’t available everywhere.

  12. I gave a facebook update that said: Apple launches largest, most expensive iphone to date.

    I don’t think there’s a device that’s come out from Apple that has intrigued me as little as the ipad.
    Typing is so integral to how we use computers that I wonder how popular it will be.

  13. systemBuilder@14

    Stanza (free) for the iPhone already will run on the iPad as is, and it downloads and displays content from Project Gutenberg (also for free).

  14. #2: Where was the webcam? I didn’t see it in the presentation. That was one of the big “lacks” (including the inability to multitask and rinkydink 64GB storage) that makes me think that if I ever want one of these at all, it’ll be at least 3rd or 4th gen. Once you can video chat on one of these babies, THEN they’ll have a magic game-changing product.

  15. The iPad was totally a bust. No flash (so not good for web serving), no multitasking (not a good computer), no camera (up and coming requirement for most portable computers), no memory expansion slots, just a big iTouch (the UI is starting to get old) and still too expensive for what it does/doesn’t do.

  16. I’m more curious why someone would want to read a book on it. The whole reason I love my Reader is that it acts like paper and doesn’t make my eyes hurt. Reading a book on something that’s backlit would make me stabby very quickly!

  17. Casper: I have definitely noted the power supply issue versus the ease of getting the analogue book out and reading. And for that reason alone, I think the book-as-physical object will be around for a while. Plus if you drop it in the tub, you aren’t out all the media.

    the nice thing about book is that one can go to a book store to find them, you do not need to depend on other people like Amazon, or other online places to get them, and you’ll find bookshops the most amazing places…

    But when you point out that you can go to the bookstore to get the book, as opposed to waiting for Amazon to get the book….well, I think those are actually two different issues. Amazon is waiting on a format to be issued. (This is no different than waiting for the paperback to come out if you find hardbacks too expensive.)

    And well, you have to depend on the bookstore to stock the book you want too. Recently, I’ve gone to both B&N as well as a local store and they BOTH failed to have the book I wanted in stock. So I would have to order it via Amazon anyway.

    On the other hand, I have been able to stock up on new books while ill at home, just by getting on my eReader and ordering up something. Finished a book in the middle of the night, and can’t wait to get the sequel? Ebook wins again.

    And the reason I started considering ereaders and ebooks? I moved again for the dozenth time in a decade, and packing books was a total pain in the arse. But the real pain came when I realised we were running out of room for bookshelves. So if I can clear up some room by going with an ereader? Hells, yeah.

  18. I have to agree with the general consensus on Slashdot; this will be just as big a failure as the iPod and iPhone were.

  19. That was too funny. I miss Mad TV.

    I agree with Dave H. People start to attribute super powers, like third person omniscient narrative skills, to people who use them. As authors do. It may also have to do ontological pluralism, or bent that way. Perhaps a John Scalzi in another universe, one that is nearly the same as ours, but further up on its timeline, is communicating with this John Scalzi. I don’t know how it happens, but at least it doesn’t violate causality. Does it?

  20. Sunidesus@22: Why would someone want to read a book on it? So they won’t buy a Kindle. (I suspect that’s Apple’s reasoning. They have an unconventional view of reality sometimes.)

    Reading on my iPod Touch isn’t as bad as it sounds. Stanza has a beautiful “night mode” which is white text on a black, black background and it can be dimmed. My only complaint is the Touch’s display is too small.

    I think Apple’s intent for the iPad is to address complaints people had about the iPhone & iPod Touch as media platforms: too big to be just a phone or music player, too small to be a video player / web browser / email terminal / e-reader. I personally think it’s going to be an electronic Swiss Army knife. It does a hundred things, none of them well. Well, maybe a video player, but who needs a $500 video player?

    However, I’ve been waiting for an e-reader with good PDF and indexing support so I can use it as a portable reference library. I have a lot of technical books that I’d happily give up certain unused appendages to be able to carry around with me and do keyword searches on. I’d rather have the longer battery life of an e-ink display device but something like an iPad might be the better choice. Just not from Apple – I’d rather pay Asus prices for it.

  21. Dave @26: The pdf thing makes sense. My Reader will display them, but not very well and they’re ridiculously slow so I never use them.

    I really only use it for reading novels though, so the various other formats that it’ll take are perfectly fine. I wouldn’t want to try to do any kind of technical reading on it, but for my uses it’s great.

    I think the backlight issue must be somewhat person dependent. Personally, reading something book-like off a backlit display is just a recipe for ouchy eyes. I do spend most of my day in front of a computer (which is fine) but book reading just doesn’t work for me. I must look at other stuff frequently when on the computer, but while reading I’m just staring at the screen.

    So the eInk is a huge plus for me, as is the battery life. I’m one of those people that will regularly read for 3 or 4 hours at a time, so not having to plug the thing in more than once a week is very very nice! Because having a library in my purse? Kinda rocks. A lot.

  22. @davh

    Why would someone want to read a book on it? So they won’t buy a Kindle. (I suspect that’s Apple’s reasoning. They have an unconventional view of reality sometimes.)

    Actually no. Serious readers will opt for the Kindle, Nook, Sony etc. But there are a fari number of readers who don’t read several books a week or even a month so a Kindle etc makes little sense for them – those are the readers Apple anticipates getting.

    That said, the iPad underwhelms me at the moment. I can see it being very cool for people who want a portable computer but don’t have a laptop yet.

  23. Tor UK is an imprint of Macmillan, but Tor US isn’t, though both are owned by the Holtzbrinck Group. I really wish Macmillan hadn’t chosen that name for its British SF imprint – mine is not to reason why I guess.

  24. Sunidesus@27: I’m with you on the discomfort of reading on a backlit display, if it’s a common CRT or liquid crystal computer display. But the iPod Touch display is much better in my view. It has a very good contrast ratio and the individual pixels look to me to be smaller and packed together more closely. Sort of like comparing text printed on a 24-pin impact printer to that from a laser printer.

    Eye ease was the main reason I wanted an e-ink display, although the Touch display convinced me to hold off until I could actually get a look at one. (I never understood people buying a Kindle sight unseen, but I don’t understand a lot of people anyway.) I had high hopes for the Nook, but availability woes kept me from jumping on it before Christmas. Then the iPad rumors started, so I waited some more, but I think now I’ll see if I can get a Nook demo.

    RickWhoIsNotThatRick@28: “Serious readers will opt for the Kindle, Nook, Sony etc. But there are a fari number of readers who don’t read several books a week or even a month so a Kindle etc makes little sense for them – those are the readers Apple anticipates getting.”

    I agree. That was my point, although I was trying to spin it to imply Apple’s hubris. The iPad will try to draw people who were on the fence about e-readers into the tablet fold. People who have decided that a dedicated reader makes sense are already lost.

    Is this starting to sound like a religious discussion, or is it just me?

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