The iPad is an incredibly sexy device--and John M, look for the price point to come down from $500 to closer to $300 at the low end over the next year or so. The screen looks gorgeous, and the ebook format looks very inviting. I wasn't considering buying a Kindle, but I totally want an iPad: I think Apple's going to eat Amazon's lunch with this thing. B.R. is basically right--it's an iTouch on steroids--but as the owner of an iTouch, up 'til now the greatest gadget of all time, all I can say is gimme, gimme, gimme.
The price isn't really my issue, Jon, it's the philosophy - or lack of consistency in the philosophy that bugs me.
Here in Canada we have a fairly famous university professor working very hard to end copyright. People say rather flippant things about copyright being "outdated" in the digital world and it being bad for the free transfer of ideas and all that - which actually I'd be okay with as I am a bit of a closet Marxist - but it bugs me that if a Chinese factory did start turning these out for fifty bucks (which I'm pretty sure they could) there'd be an army of lawyers an FBI agents stopping them at the border.
Look, just when I've made my peace with capitalism they start changing the rules ;)
Actually, I do think the iPad will go a long way to selling more legitimate e-books. Even the Kindle - though most of their "bestsellers" are free - has sold a lot of books that probably otherwise wouldn't have been sold.
I hear you, John. I think basically it's just a lot easier to seize a container or two of iPad knock-offs than it is to try to interdict something as ethereal (literally) as file-sharing. Shut down Napster and a month later you've got a hundred little Napsters popping up all over the world; it's like Mickey and the broomsticks in Fantasia. Ending copyright is an idiotic idea that will never happen--at least in the U.S. We're pathologically right-wing about all kinds of stuff in this country (war, healthcare, global warming, corporate personhood) but at least we respect property rights.
Well, you know America better than I ever will, Jon. It just seems like it's a fight between different corporate entities. For companies like Google an the phone companies selling internet connections copyright gets in the way. If they have better paid lobbyists, isn't anything possible?
It's usually the most right-wing libertarians online telling me that "Ideas want to be free," and going on and on about the evils of copyright.
Of course, maybe it is a communist plot - today it's "Intellectual property is theft," (or at least "acquiring it without paying isn't theft" as they say) and when that goes through they'll just drop the "intellectual."
The best paid lobbyists idea is about right--but my guess is that ultimately Google's going to lose and lose big. You can't on the one hand extend copyright protection basically indefinitely, and then eight years later say copyright is basically meaningless. Although with the current Supremes overturning 100 years of established election law last week and allowing even foreign corporate entities to flood the election process with cash and influence, all freaking bets are off.
I think that, for these devices to really support the legal purchase of electronic books, they have to make it easier than pirating them. That's what I like about this iPad thingie -- it's connected to the internet, so if you want to read a book, you just surf to Amazon (or Powell's?) and buy it for a couple of bucks. Why go through the headache of trying to find an illegal download of something when you can get it from a legit source that quickly for that little?
I also think that these devices are going to support reading. I know I'm a blue-eyed optimist, but when those twenty-something gadget geeks can get the latest best-seller in thirty seconds online for $1.99, instead of having to drive somewhere, pay $29.99, and then not be able to use their new toy on it -- I think more of them are going to buy and read books, and writers are going to sell more books. We can sell one million copies at $29.99 (I wish), or four billion at $1.99. That's still a pretty good chunk of change. Maybe we can't retire to the Bahamas, but more people will read what we write, and really, isn't that what gets us all out of bed in the morning?
Apple is debuting its own ebook store along with the new device, called iBooks (I think). Not sure how pricing will work, but I don't think it'll be a flat $1.99. That model doesn't apply in the App store, and it's not really in place on iTunes anymore.
They're talking about $9.99. Apple never does anything cheap. I mean inexpensively.
But you can be sure that from the time you click on the book you want to the time you're reading it on your iPad will be seemless and not take more than a minute. That may be worth something to people.
Hmm, reading devices are beginning to proliferate just like the phones. Every year, there will be a new gadget, and people will rush to buy it. Not at all sure what that will do for authors, but the public clearly doesn't get tired of replacing last year's models. I wish they were as ready to spend a few modest dollars on a book.
However, the electronic rights business is changing fast from something agents throw into the pot to get a print sale into another valuable commodity that deserves to be handled separately, perhaps with separate advance.