Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The So-Called 'Future of eBooks'. Yeah riiiight.

So, some analyst over at O'Reilley posits that Apple's new tablet will be a 'game changer. Not so fast I say, buried in his soon to be approved comment roll:

I just have a few brief comments:

* Every device that Apple has put out that limits the user has required hacking to 'get it back' to full 'desktop functionality'. We have a paradigm, it's the desktop. That's why users hacked the Newton, and hack the iPhone and AppleTV. Crippled devices suck. Nintendo knows that and gets mostly out of the way. Apple does not, and the AppleTV and iPhone are examples of the other side.

* The 'Netbook boom' that Apple blithely ignores is a testament to the fact that the 'Book' and 'printed matter' is changing. But I disagree that new tools are needed. A lot of reading is done in-Browser, and those browsers will end up being Google Chrome, Safari, and anything that renders HTML5. HTML5 to me is the new PDF. PDF is not bad as long as Adobe stays out of it. Oh wait, they are.

* If you want a taste of the 'publishing revolution' then there are several good book readers [more like reformatters] in the iPhone AppStore: Eucalyptus, Stanza, Classics, etc. For folks coming from postage stamp screens it's like reading a paperback. Making the screen any bigger is of course welcome, but then you're jumping from paperback to hardcover, from iPhone to NetBook. For most folks this is diminishing returns.

So. There we have it. Your revolution is the browser you're reading this in. A 'sweet spot' between portability and power that Apple needs to figure out, and what we already have in smaller, and probably more useful form. By the time Apple figures out 'how to monetize it' it's already passé just like the AppleTV.

Where do students study? At a desk, probably in a dorm. With a laptop, copying & pasting text from a browser.

Where do I read novels? On my ipod touch, with Eucalyptus, in a form factor only slightly smaller than a paperback. Do I need to mention that Apple almost torpedoed Eucalyptus, one of the best readers... ever?

When I want 'the hardcover experience' there's either a 9" or 15" screen at my disposal. And Safari or Firefox. Or, a PDF renderer that doesn't bug out like Acrobat.

The revolution's already here. And Apple is not making a cake, just putting the icing on it. And if they go the way of another closed system like the AppleTV, then expect their little contribution to fizzle.

What I'm really wondering is if publishers will go along with Apple's 'micro-sell via our store & we keep 1/3' model. I'm betting no, hence, nothing to see here, move along. At least for another 5-10 years.

Everything old is new, yet old, dog. Even Larry Ellison thinks so.

Still rotting my brain with this book in deadwood form. Go figure:

"Learn C on the Mac (Learn Series)" (Dave Mark)

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