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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The iPad won't just change bookselling

It will change the book itself:
Looking out to the future, I think the odds favor the iPad. As an author myself (of a book about a sixties film producer), the idea of converting my dead tree book to something with short film clips and even musical examples makes me giddy. As a consumer, I'll want to get books that have those kinds of features.

In the early days of technology, new inventions tend to mimic the old. The TV was really a small movie screen, with radio quality audio. In fact, a lot of early TV was really old radio shows repackaged with pictures, i.e. Jack Benny and the Lone Ranger.

The Kindle mimics the book reading experience. It does it well, with a crisp display and an easy-to-use interface. Apple seems to want to take the experience beyond just mimicking a book, to create a new experience. Publishers will have to extend themselves to meet those goals, and so will authors.

In the short term, these gradual changes will be invisible, and I'll happily keep using my Kindle. In the long term, devices like the iPad will win us over and evolve our relationship with our media, just as the iPod did.

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