I'm somewhat of a geek in terms of coveting new technology. But I'm also fairly conservative when it comes to actually spending money on big ticket items. I bought a Macbook many years after first seriously thinking about it, because I needed to suck all the life possible out of my ancient and virus-ridden Dell desktop, and also I needed to save the money for buying it before actually buying it. (Sounds like common sense, huh? After years of digging out of credit card debt, i had finally learned my lesson.)
I longed for the iPad as soon as its existence was rumored. But as a owner of both of Macbook AND an iPhone, I just couldn't justify the cost. I thought I'd seriously look into it once the 2nd generation was released (rumored to be in early 2011). But when I was given one for work last week (no, not everyone received one--right now one, maybe two people in editorial, marketing, and design have one), I was pretty darn excited. Yes, I'm spoiled.
|my new iPad!
I immediately went out and bought two different cases, one to just carry the iPod itself for every day use, and a fancy one from Brookstone with a built-in keyboard. In fact, I drafted this blog post using my iPad and keyboard on the train up to CT to visit Libby, and then back again to NY. It basically looks like a much lighter, smaller laptop:
|iPad in the Brookstone keyboard case
It won't replace my laptop by any means, though--the biggest disadvantage is that you can't run Microsoft Word, which is crucial for my job. I'm using the "Pages" application which can read Word docs, and it's adequate for reviewing and writing documents, but I won't be able to use the Track Changes function to edit. Darn. If I had that, I'd be set.
At another editor's recommendation, I'm trying out an app called iAnnotate PDF to edit, but I'll have to save my Word docs as a PDF in order for it to work, and then I'll have to most likely transfer my notes manually back into Word in order to send them to authors. But, it's more streamlined and neat than bringing hard copies of the paper manuscript around with me, or lugging my laptop around. I'll give it a shot and we'll see how it goes.
But overall, it's shiny and new and fun and I love my new toy.
The real reason I have the iPad is not necessarily to edit manuscripts on it, or to read submissions on it, although I will probably end up doing both on occasion. The main reason I was given an iPad is that my company wants to make sure in-house editors, designers, marketing folks, etc are up on the newest technology and are also aware of what is possible with the new technology. This is necessary in order to better know what we can be doing with our own books in terms of the new digital realm. We've also ordered in the new B&N Color Nook that Meghan posted about previously. It's pretty nice, too. We have a few of our books up for sale for both the Color Nook and the iBookstore for the iPad. In both cases, we've been pretty selective and careful both in terms of the quality of the final product, and the comfort level of the authors and illustrators.
In general, it's been pretty interesting to see that the large majority of authors and illustrators and agents we work with are really excited that their book is going to be available in a new format. There are a few agencies and authors and illustrators who are not open to having their books available as eBooks for various reasons (mainly royalty rates and quality of the format), but overall I think everyone (publishers included) are worried about being left behind, and feel that we need to forge ahead in order to test the market. Also, what we've done so far are straight eBooks--no bells or whistles, no movement, no games. So far, at least for picture books, we've tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original paper book reading experience.
Again, as I've said before, I don't think paper books will disappear in my lifetime, especially for children's books, but I can see people using picture book eBooks as a great tool for car trips, traveling, etc. My hope is that if people love a book, they'll buy it in multiple formats! :) One for home, one for the road. But overall, I do think eBooks will continue to grow in market share (right now I believe it's just under 10%)--as more and more people start owning iPads and Kindles and Nooks, this number is bound to increase.
I have to say, I love that a book still looks like a book on the iPad. It has a gutter, and a page turn, even. It's kinda silly and somewhat antiquated that I think that, I suppose--I mean, if I want the gutter and traditional page turn, why not just read a paper book? (which is probably why I still haven't read an eBook!) But because it tries to recreate the traditional book reading experience, I can see getting used to reading books on the iPad more than I can see getting used to reading books on my Sony Reader, which, as I've said before on this blog, I haven't been able to bring myself to do, mainly because it just doesn't seem like a book. On the iPad, you never forget that it's still a book:
1) do you think print books will eventually disappear? If so, in how many years? If not, what percentage of market share will eBooks settle in as compared to print books?
2) What percentage of book sales will be eBook sales be in five years?
1) No, print books will not disappear--at least not for a very long time. I think the market may eventually settle into a 80% eBooks to 20% print books in about 50 or so years. (this is a COMPLETE guess, mind you.)
2) In five years, my guess is 25%. But for children's books, I think it will be lower. Maybe 15%.
The eBook market is still a bit like the Wild West right now, but I've been trying to absorb all I can. I'm happy to try to answer any questions you all may have!
Also, check out this opinion piece about Dr. Seuss and children's eBooks in the Wall Street Journal:
Something is always lost as technology advances, and this will be true of the decline of print. But since technology can't be stopped, we should make the most of it. Or, as Dr. Seuss urged in his final book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go": "Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!"