E-Reading on the iPad: Where Will Your Content Come From?

Now that that the iPad announcement excitement (and screams of “I lost sound, do you have sound?” from across the office) have died down, let’s take a look at the iPad as an e-reader. It’s pretty clear that the iPad has been designed as a consumption device (no camera, no multitasking) instead of a creation device, but that makes it a great option as an e-reader.

While Apple has quietly slipped in that as of right now the built-in iBooks app and iBookstore is only available in the U.S. (see footnote 1 with thanks to @jmaxsfu ), other e-book apps will be available. The iPad will work with apps that were designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch, blowing them up to twice their size to fit the larger screen. These apps can be downloaded from the App Store or synched to the iPad if you already have them for your iPhone or iPod Touch and you’ll be able to read your books right away on a larger full-colour screen.

iPad Apps

The iPad also gives developers the option of creating apps specifically for the new device. For example, Kobo announced yesterday that they already have their iPad app in development , honouring their commitment to be on every device and aiming to be ready when the iPad ships in 60 days. They’ve provided some nice teaser screenshots:

Kobo iPad screenshot

The blog post states that “with Kobo for iPad, you will be able to read all the books you have already purchased, buy and read new ones, highlight, annotate, and leverage some very exciting new features we have in store for our new apps.”

More Options

With the larger screen size, full colour, multitouch, and video of the iPad, publishers will have more options for letting their imaginations run wild when creating new books. The New York Times demo from the press conference showed video integrated into an article, but obviously the possibilities go way beyond that example and I’m excited to see what publishers come up with.

NYT Video from Gizmodo

Lingering Questions

I think it’s safe to say that Apple getting the iBooks app and iBookstore into Canada and the rest of the world isn’t an if but a when . So, what happens when users can suddenly buy books through an account they already have from a source that they already trust ? Are other retailers ready to stay in the game? I think this goes beyond in-app purchasing. Apple has become a trusted source and as such can easily become the source that readers turn to for e-books. Other retailers need to be ready so that readers have as many options as possible.