new iPad will be a great device for reading e-books. The iPad will obviously come with Apple's own e-reader software - but that's only half the story. Users will also be able to read their Kindle and B&N e-book purchases on Apple's new device. After all, nobody is going to stop Amazon, B&N and any of the independent e-book publishers from creating their own applications. That is, of course, unless Apple decides that these apps now "duplicate" a core feature of its own apps and decides to ban all other e-reader apps from the devices.Judging from what we have seen so far, Apple's
We have to admit, though, that this seems like a highly unlikely scenario. Apple surely doesn't want to get caught up in another Google Voice-like brawl.
It's All About the Apps
For Amazon, the discussion between proponents of e-paper displays and those who prefer the flexibility of Apple's color touchscreen is almost irrelevant, however. After all, the Kindle software is already available on multiple platforms - including the iPhone - and while Jeff Bezos would surely like to see the Kindle become the dominant player in this market, Amazon's core business is selling books and not selling its own hardware devices.
B&N and every other player in the e-book business will surely develop their own applications as well and for almost everybody in this business but Sony, creating hardware is more of a distraction than a core competency.
As far as we know, Apple plans to sell most e-books in the iBook store for around $14.99. That's more expensive than books in the Kindle store or the B&N e-book store, but it's still significantly lower than the price of a hardcover book. Unlike Amazon, Apple also won't have to subsidize the prize of the books. If anything, Apple's pricing strategy might just give Amazon an excuse to bring its prices up to a point where it doesn't lose money on every sale.
Good for Textbooks, Too
We should also note that Amazon has had absolutely no success in positioning the Kindle as a device for textbooks. The iPad, on the other hand, seems to fulfill all the requirements of most students. The device can display interactive content and thanks to its touchscreen, optional keyboard and the ability to easily annotate text, textbooks might just turn out to be one of the iPad's killer features.
Apple's Advantages and Disadvantages
Apple's largest advantage right now is that it's the default e-book store on the iPad. The iPhone, however, has clearly shown that downloading a free app from the app store is something users are very comfortable with, and Amazon and B&N have enough marketing power to spread the word about their apps.
The iPad is obviously a far more expensive device than the Kindle or the Nook. Even the cheapest iPad will sell for almost twice the price of a standard Kindle and users will have to pay for the 3G connectivity that is free on the Kindle, Nook and some of Sony's Readers. On the other hand, though, the iPad will offer far more functionality than today's e-readers.
We also still have to see if Apple's claims about the iPad's battery life will hold up. One of the big advantages of today's e-paper e-readers is definitely their battery life.
What do You Think?
Will the iPad turn out to be a great device for e-books? Or do you simply prefer e-paper and you can't imagine reading a book on the iPad's LED screen? Or are you afraid that the iPad will be so successful that it will kill off local bookstores?
See also: ReadWriteWeb's complete coverage and analysis of the iPad on our iPad topic page.