Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boys, Books, and the iPad

Personally, I don't think I'm going to buy the iPad.  Not right away anyway.  It's too limited, too much like a giant iPhone.  I love my iPhone, don't get me wrong, but I rarely find myself sitting around with it going, "Gee, I wish it were bigger!"  The things I would like to do on my iPhone (edit word docs and such) can't be done on an iPad.  Sure, they've released a version of iWork designed specifically for it, but iWork is pretty much like all my ex's:  everyone with a Mac has tried it, it's cheap, but in the end it's completely useless.

For me, the iPad does nothing particularly well that I don't already do better with another device.  I don't need a larger iPod.  When I want to watch TV I use my iPhone.  If I want a bigger screen, I go to my TV.  It's not portable enough to go to places like the gym.  I can't write on it like my netbook or do other stuff like on my laptop.  It hasn't got multitasking, so even if I could edit on it, I wouldn't be able to edit AND fact check.  For me, it doesn't fill a need.

However, I think that if we're going to reach new readers, especially reluctant readers, the iPad is going to be how we do it.  It's the kind of device that could take concepts like the Vook (interactive books) and make them something spectacular.  I'm never going to be the target audience for a backlit reading device because it hurts my eyes, but todays generation, and future generations, are going to be so used to reading on back lit screens (which continue to get better) that they won't have a problem reading whole books on devices like the iPad.

Imagine this:  You're reading a book about a boy on a rocketship.  And there's a little icon by the word "rocketship."  You click the icon and a page opens up with detailed diagrams of the ship.  Images from the inside.  You can view his flight plan.  There's even a game where you have to figure out how much fuel the ship needs to reach escape velocity before you can go to the next chapter.

I know this has been tried on computers before, but computers aren't cuddly.  You can't curl up with one on a rainy day.  You can't spend 8 hours outside on a cloudy day with one.

The iPad looks like it might be the first step toward changing that.

So, will I buy it?  Probably not.  (Yeah, I said the same thing about the Kindle and look where that got me)  But I think lots of people will.  And if the Big Publishers are smart and daring, they'll use their partnership with Apple and with this device to create a new kind of reading experience.  One not limited by ink and paper.  Because, to move into the future, we shouldn't be trying to replicate books, we should be trying to make them awesomer!


  1. I agree.

    {And major diss to all you ex's}

  2. but iWork is pretty much like all my ex's: everyone with a Mac has tried it, it's cheap, but in the end it's completely useless.

    Ouch. That smarts.

    About the iPad, I agree. You have to agree, though, that those Apple folks sure know how to talk up a product.

  3. Dani: Most of my ex's really sucked.

    Kat: Oh, I totally agree. I can't think of a single thing I'd use the iPad for, and yet I STILL want to buy one. Since they announced it, I haven't stopped trying to find something for which I'd find it useful.

  4. Good pts. What you see for the future of books still scares me a bit (I have issues with change) but I think you're onto something. I can totally see future teens interacting with books like you said. And when I have to make a book to fit those needs, guess who I'll ask to help? :-)

  5. My $300 netbook does everything that thing does...and better. Why spend the extra $200 for a dumb-downed version of a netbook (which is already dumbed down).

    My netbook has a bigger screen, a real keyboard, and access to like a billion apps. And it runs Kindle and other ebook readers. And it runs Skype so I call actually make calls on it.

  6. Iapetus999 - Agreed. I hacked a Dell mini 10v to run OS X. It's my writing machine because all I run on it is Word, iTunes, and internet. If a netbook I paid less than $300 for can run everything I need it to, why can't the iPad? Why does it need to be dumbed down?

    Margie - I'm totally there for you! Actually, I think that in a changing environment, that is one area where an agent's job may evolve. I'm no artist, but an agent might see the potential for these types of enhancements and then find an appropriate artist.

  7. I won't be buying one because I just bought a Kindle. And I really love my Kindle, especially for reading manuscripts, so I'll wait for awhile and see what new things arise from all this hoopla.

  8. I hate to think how many ipads I'd have to buy to replace the books that are holding up the corner of my couch.

  9. Interesting point. I hadn't thought of e-books as a way to encourage reluctant readers, especially boys, but I guess it makes sense.

    It's a good thing EDDY's coming out in electronic form, too.


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