Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The iTablet Cometh

You've probably heard the news, unless you have been living under a rock that blocks all incoming internet signals as well as the Apple nerd at work and even then HEY YOU UNDER THE ROCK, tomorrow is the big day that Apple announces the worst best-kept secret in the multiverse: the mythic iTablet or iSlate or iSomething that promises to be a game changer or not or who the heck knows.

Already this is shaking up the publishing business. Publishers have been rumored to be in discussions with Apple, and Amazon recently announced a (caveat heavy) deal whereby people who publish with the Kindle will receive a 70% royalty provided they meet certain criteria, which some have viewed as a preemptive response to Apple's dealmaking (via reader Brandon).

With rumors rampant about what the tablet will look like, what it will cost, and whether it will be the most awesomest most awesome thing in the world or merely awesome (or even not awesome), I'll leave all that to the rumor sites.

But it seems clear to me that the days of grayscale e-books are likely coming to an end. While the iTablet will probably be too expensive to change things immediately, it's a harbinger of things to come: color and video and audio are coming to e-book readers near you.

And it's going to be interesting to see how it shakes out. Who will be the first author with an animated cover? Will people crave enhanced e-books or do people want their e-books to remain static and moving-part free? Will Apple come to dominate the e-book business the way they do e-music, or will other competitors like Amazon remain strong? Will dedicated devices still appeal to core audiences?

I personally think a big question is: will people still read books on a device so eminently capable of distracting you with movies, the Internet, games, and anything the geeks of tomorrow invent?

We'll see. But I suspect the future of publishing is about to take another lurch forward.

What about you, any predictions?






106 comments:

Mark D. said...

You know, I was always satisfied with just a regular old fashioned book.

Anonymous said...

"a device so imminently capable of"

Um, dude, don't be that guy. I mean, "eminently"?

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks, anon.

abc said...

I am keeping an open mind about the future. I like books, but I like what's in them. I don't need to be attached to paper. It's the way of the future. Not that I have one. But I'm not against it. Should someone want to get me one for my bday. And I like Apple.

I think I've had too much caffeine.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Music to my ears: "enhanced e-books."

Mira said...

Um, can I go with awesomely awesomely awesome? Was that one of the choices?

Yea for Apple!

Will people read books when they can watch movies, etc? Ah, but with enhanced video, books will be a whole new interactive art form. So, yes, people will LOVE them. That's my prediction.

But I've always thought there was a much bigger market for regular old-books than is currently tapped anyway.

All of that said, 70%. 70%!!!!

70%. I'm just going to sit here and take it in. And I'm not even in this to make money.

Do you think Amazon would be interested in my 5 page biology paper? That's really all I got, but I wouldn't mind making 70% profit off the two people who would buy it (me and my mom.)

I'm going to go check it out.

Anonymous said...

Can't put a tablet in your bookshelves to look all pretty and lend out. I'm still a paper book gal all the way!

Dawn Maria said...

I think the real question is how Apple being in the game with affect purchasing choices. With iTunes, Apple was wise enough to allow it to play nicely with other devices and sites. I think this is the future- you can buy e-books anywhere you want and download them on to any device you want.

As for me and my house, I'm not using a reader. I have a Kindle App on my iPhone and I read the books there when I'm stuck waiting at places. My preferred method is still a "real" book. It's what I'm used to, but I also like being away from tech for a at least a portion of the day.

Crystal Posey said...

Eh, I love apple. I mean I really, really love apple. But this doesn't sound like anything I'll be buying. I don't want bells and whistles on my reading device. I'm not even using the audio or picture options on my Sony. I want my reader for reading only. It's only there for when I can't have an actual book, and on the occasion that I might need to spend a little less money.

And as far as anything else it will be able to do, I have enough tech stuff that I don't need anything else.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Also: I wonder what a query for an "enhanced e-book" should look like - I mean, should we be creating an "enhanced e-query" for our e-book submissions?

I'm so there - along with all the other novelist hopefuls, castigated for their scented pink paper, mini homemade crocheted dream catchers, etc, all those 3-dimensional visual tactile (visuotactile?) distractions...maybe we'll have an advantage over 1-dimensional W.O. (Word Only) queries...

oh well, I can dream...

Thermocline said...

Mark my words: scratch and sniff. Someday e-books will emit scents. Think about what that will do for the zombie novel.

Sheila said...

I saw an application for the ipod/phone called the Sherlock Holmes experience. It melds video ("set the scene") with the text of the novel.

You're right, it's going to be really fascinating what happens next, I think.

Is anyone working on this sort of fusion right now? (video to go along with text).

Anonymous said...

The itablet sounds interesting, can't wait to hear more about it but not concerned about books having to compete with other entertainment options on the device. In that respect, it seems the same. For me, it looks like books are finally catching up to speed.

Yamile said...

I love books. To feel the pages, sleep with one under my pillow, seeing the illustrations ... But, I'm excited about the itablet! Animated book covers? I feel like I just got my first glimpse into Diagon Alley! This is the future!

Nick said...

The only "enhanced e-book" I might go for is an e-book with audio book over it. Buy the audio book and play it while you read, or make it a separate sale or something. But I know sometimes when I get to listening to audio books, I get distracted by things. Especially when it's just some guy reading. Find audio books narrated by David Tennant or Patrick Stewart and those are brilliant, but a lot of audio books have a very "Good morning, sir, I'm going to read what's on this page here" thing going on. And my mind wanders in that scenario. So having the page there can help me when I feel myself beginning to wander -- I can snap myself back into focus and then let the reader take over again.

Also, this reminds me of something I always wanted to do. I used to work as a ghost writer for an entirely fan-run audio drama site, and I always intended to start my own group (still working for them, of course, because I love the community there; we still keep in touch, to a point) to branch out to some of my own ideas that either wouldn't be cleared there or would take a while to be cleared there. And one of those ideas was to make full-cast audio drama adaptations of novels.

Nothing new, really, but I love audio drama more than anything, and most non-professional audio drama these days are fan spin-offs, which really is even what most of ours were (so, so much Star Trek), so it'd be refreshing to see some fan-produced adaptations out there, and most books that do get adaptations are things like War & Peace or Narnia. All well and good, but they've been done to death. There are brilliant books out there that, so far as I'm aware, have gone untouched by audio dramae. I did bring this up with the old group, before I just sort of slowly drifted away from my duties (keep meaning to go back someday), and they actually started developing one from a book I'd never even heard of before. Bit sad I drifted away when I did, as I would've had the chance to work on that, but I have given the end product a listen and it's just bril.

And all these reminisces are really making me miss that old place. Think I'll go have a chat with them.

Dreamstate said...

I can go digital. I have no problem with that. But I still want to read, which means I don't want my books animated or with moving covers, and so on.

I was happy to get my news online instead of in a printed newspaper, but I do get a little ticked off when I click on what I think is an article only to have a video pop up.

Make it clear, make it portable, make it a super-sexy, does-everything-but-make-your-coffee, revolutionize-the-world piece of technology, but PLEASE make it use WORDS!

Mark Terry said...

I'm totally geeked about this and hope it doesn't outprice me. Although I'm quite interested in it as an e-reader, having finally read an entire book on the iPhone Kindle app (nice app, but I'd prefer a larger screen), I've sort of wondered how having a device that I'm trying to read a book on that can dial Mars and provide me with books, TV, movies, Internet radio, and blogs and porn and Facebook will do to my already shattered, splintered and mutilated attention span.

On the other hand, I've watched movies and TV on my iPhone and think a bigger screen would be a damned fine idea.

Brandon said...

w00t! Thanks for the props, Nathan!

Even though I am not really an Apple convert just yet (I just got an iPod touch last Christmas), I await tomorrow's announcement with great anticipation. The iTablet/iSlate/iPad/iZac seems poised to make the tablet another perceived electronic essential (along with laptops and smartphones).

It will be interesting to see how the publishing world evolves with these new devices!

Mark Terry said...

Oh, and P.S. Enhanced books, right. Because publishers, which are already the cheapest media outlets on the planet, are going to spend more money to create video clips and moving images for the cover, while still providing the authors as little as possible in the way of an advance. Riiiiggggghhhhhttttt.

Karen Lange said...

It'll be interesting to see it, and how it affects things. I think that I'll still prefer good old regular books with paper:)

Susan Quinn said...

But I just unwrapped my nook! Sigh.

Nicole said...

I don't see a problem with ebooks competing with TV/movies/games/etc. Paper books already compete with all these things, and yet still sell and are read.

As to the iTablet or iWhatever, I want one. Lots. Whether I can afford one will be another matter.

Alex Fayle said...

If it's a typical apple product of paying a lot more just for the cool factor, then no way will I buy it (I chose a Creative Zen over the iPod in 2006 because for the same price I got video and 4x the storage space).

Also unless it includes an "epaper" screen, I don't think it will replace any of the ereaders. Reading typical computer screens are just too tiring.

JDuncan said...

It will be very cool, no doubt. It's Apple after all. Expense will keep it in the hands of a fairly limited audience initially, and nobody will have anything to wow us with right off the bat. Give it some time however. Things will develop. People will play with the capabilities and some very interesting and exciting stuff will begin to come out. I suspect there will be an audience for the highly interactive book. It won't be huge, at least not in the standard fiction market. Non-fiction and graphic venues like comics will reap the biggest benefits initially. A year from now, some new expected standard for ebooks will begin to emerge. Fiction will be on the back end of this I suspect, but it will get there. As cheaper alternatives to Apple begin to come out, the audience will grow. The best-seller releases will see the biggest changes, and will trickle down to everything else as it becomes more cost effective down the road. I don't see this happening in a year. Two or three maybe. The biggest factor will be the reader though. How much will they be willing to pay for this kind of thing, as we feel the continued pressure for free content? If higher degrees of interaction become more profitable than standard format, then we may see all of these cool new capabilities hitting the average fiction market.

This won't be quick, at least in my opinion. It's all very cool and exciting, but as the average writer out there, I don't believe it will have much effect on my books for some time to come yet. I'll remain hopeful for now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out on the agent end of things however, if the interaactiveness of books becomes a point of negotiation.

Steve & Sarah Travel the Long Way Round said...

Yesterday I had work, then a meeting, and arrived home around 8pm. I made a cup of tea and settled into a chair to read the end of Pillars of the Earth. After a couple hours I got up, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. No flashing lights, no email, no video, no electrons whatsoever. I realized this used to be most of my nights, even as recently as a few years ago. I suppose it's up to me to not let it get crowded out by iLife, but it's a struggle. Not particularly happy about another iMagicBlackBox hitting the marketplace.

Lynn said...

The protagonist in my as-of-yet unpublished manuscript is learning to cook like a Southerner (no, it isn't a Julie/Julia Project rip-off). Black-eyed peas, shrimp and grits, bbq ribs, fried catfish...you get the idea. I was thinking of including recipies in the book, but how cool would it be to click on an icon and watch someone make it? And that idea for the scratch and sniff - brilliant!

Nikki Hootman said...

"I personally think a big question is: will people still read books on a device so eminently capable of distracting you with movies, the Internet, games, and anything the geeks of tomorrow invent?"

Given the fact that I'm currently using my iPod touch to read classics from Project Gutenberg while I breastfeed... I'm gonna say yes.

Sheila Campbell said...

I love my Kindle, but I'm already lusting after the Apple iTablet or whatever. Being able to carry one small instrument on which I can read, access the web and write is my idea of digital heaven. I'll give it one iteration to get the bugs out, but I think there's one of these things in my future.

Anonymous said...

Apple always does it right: Vertically integrated, complete ecosystem technology that hits a home run every time - iPods, iPhones, Macs -- the whole enchilada.

Watch them announce content deal partnerships with New York Times, McGraw Hill (the exec from that company announced it on CNBC today), Harper Collins, etc, etc. All the mainstream pubs will jump all over this . . . if they know what's good for their business.

I can't wait! I want a slate that allows me to read books, run apps, browse the internet, skype my friends, play my music, watch a video . . . the more it can do the better!

If it also fits in my purse I'm so there baby!

Joseph L. Selby said...

It can't live up to the hype. Apple is a victim of its own success. The iTablet is being billed to publishing what the stone tablets were to Moses, handed down from god. At this point, what could they possibly offer that would top the hype?

As for an animated cover, good luck with that. An animated cover will be in Flash and Apple and Adobe don't like each other.

Frankly, I agree with the speculation that they're just making a big iPhone. I don't think there will be as much innovation as there was when the iPod first released. It'll just be a big-ass iPhone and cost a bajillion dollars.

Other Lisa said...

Following up on what Dawn Maria said, iTunes has been about the most effective anti-piracy system anyone has come up with, because it makes buying and downloading music easy, cheap and safe. I think if Apple comes up with an "iTune for Books" interface that is anywhere as close to effective, it's a game-changer.

Though I don't know, maybe that's what Amazon is...

Other Lisa said...

Oh, and I also agree with the commenter who is irritated by clicking on what she thinks is going to be an article and it turns out to be a video. I read faster than I can watch a video. That's just annoying.

Interactive books don't do it for me, unless it is in the form of completely optional supplemental material.

Marilyn Peake said...

Predictions? Companies will continue to create devices that allow multiple technology services within one device (computer, phone, eBooks, music, movies, etc.). Estimated costs I’ve seen for the iTablet are between $800 and $1,000. Competitors will eventually unveil similar devices at lower costs, allowing more people to buy them. Devices that supply only one form of technology (computers, phones, etc.) and paper books will continue to be sold, but at much lower prices than ever before. Eventually, brand new cutting-edge technology will be invented: virtual entertainment goggles, 3-D TV at home, holograms, etc., all of which are being worked on now.

"The iTablet Cometh"? Play on words for Eugene O’Neill’s play, THE ICEMAN COMETH? On Amazon, INSIDE THE FLAP information for THE ICEMAN COMETH includes the following statement: "...The Iceman Cometh exposes the human need for illusion as an antidote to despair." Just thought that was interesting, as modern media is certainly an antidote to boredom.

maine character said...

I'll always love paper books best. I even print up your articles rather than read them online.

That said, it's definitely a whole new world. Here's what Sports Illustratedmight look like in a year.

Anonymous said...

Here's the video of the McGraw-Hill exec going nuts over the new Apple device:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/technology

Mira said...

I want to add one more thing - I love Apple, but I also love Amazon.

And I can't think of a better scenario where they are duking it out over my work.

Awesome beyond awesome. Finally, the author can become a player.

70%

Awsome.

Kristin Rae said...

I'm still trying to get the idea of the Kindle through my head...

Give me a paperback!!
KristinCreative

Kelly R. Morgan said...

I say, bring on the gadgets! The more, the merrier. And if the 1st edition of the iTablet (or whatever the name turns out to be) isn't as good as it could be, someone will take the idea and run with it.

It all wraps up into being a win for me. Love the gadgets.

Anonymous said...

Prediction: Many authors will publish straight to Kindle. 70% royalty is a huge, huge incentive.

I'm happy to buy books when the money goes to the author, so I'll be purchasing most of my books through Kindle Store. I understand that they generally only get 8-15% of the cover price, so 70% is really rocking . . . and I think most authors don't make much money, so anytime I can help my favorite author to do better that's awesome.

If authors are compensated they have more incentive to write the next book (or next ten books). One thing that always bothered me was that a good writer could write a few books and still have to keep her day job. With 70% royalty the good writers can spend more time doing what they do so well -- writing. A win/win for authors and readers!

Thanks Apple and Amazon, for turning the compensation structure upside down, cutting out the middlemen, and giving the creative talent a decent income.

Crystal Posey said...

Ha, funny. Now that I've brought this up, my husband can't stop talking about it. Apparently, the house is divided.

Samantha Clark said...

I still love paper books and know a lot of people who feel the same. When I was in college -- years ago -- my teachers were giving print newspapers five years, and that was more than five years ago.

Of course, as we well know, times have changed for newspapers, advertising is eroding (but that's also due to the bad economy) and newspapers are moving online. But print newspapers are still around, and I think print books will be around for many, many years to come.

Like you said, however, times are changing. But technology brings with it opportunities. As authors, if we have a device that we can publish on that will offer books, music, videogames and movies, it just means that we must change the way we think. Maybe books can have a soundtrack. Depending on the page the book is open to, music with a certain emotion is played, just like in movies. Maybe books and movies and videogames can be combined to create new interactive products.

Whatever happens, people will always want stories, and that's where we come in, no matter how they're told.

Stephen Prosapio said...

I think books will remain "books" even as ebooks. I don't think people want a lot of bells and whistles or gadgets and gizmos. I do think a feature to look up the meaning of a particular word, or link to the geography/history of a particular place might come in handy.

This next generation is very into the internet to learn and verify facts. I'd expect games to still have their (unfortuante) place, but books to stay "bookish."

Magazines are a different story. I could see them linked with videos and ads instead of just static pictures. Ala Times Square.

LCS249 said...

Holy granola, Batman. You look about twelve years old in your photos but you keep coming out with such fabulous allusions to classics, such as this one to Eugene O'Neill. Hat's off to you, NB.

JEM said...

The interesting thing is that many really popular movies have come from books lately - Sherlock Holmes, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, The Lovely Bones, The Blind Side - so maybe novels will become the new screenplay. Pretty cool to see the movie industry take its cues from the publishing industry. Less cool to see the publishing industry take its cues from the movie industry.

Sarah Laurenson said...

There are already color e-book readers - in Japan. Have been for years. But the price tag (~$1500) put them out of reach of your everyday b&w e-book user.

If the main deal is color, then the only thing the Japanese are missing is this major amount of hype.

OhGoodnessMe said...

I think that I'm going to start writing YA "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. They will be great in an electronic format!

Dara said...

No predictions here, but I'm not a fan of anything made by Apple anyway :P Except for iTunes, everything else they make seems overpriced in comparison.

Anyway, I finally was starting to get on-board the whole eReader train, but I don't really care for something that's going to have videos and games and Internet. I mean, that's just like another computer then isn't it? And what would be the difference?

I do like the idea of having color images on an eReader, just not all of the other bells and whistles. I want to read a book not be distracted by a thousand other different forms of interactive media. If I wanted distraction, I'd just as soon as surf the Internet on my inexpensive though capable netbook. :P

Crystal said...

I have no predictions, but I seriously can't wait to see this. Apple has a very nice habit of making main stream technology blind accessible off the shelf, so I'm hoping that they keep to that same tradition with this new snazy E-reader.

Hmmm....I'll try a prediction. I think that, since Apple appeals to the younger audiences with their other products, that teens will want to buy this I-Tablet. So I think that it'd be a huge venue for publishers to be able to market books to the younger audience.

Rowenna said...

Hummm...and this begins to beg the question of what additional features readers really want. I can see the benefit in nonfiction, especially how-to kind of stuff. How cool to pull up an instruction video on the difference between dicing and chopping while reading the recipe? But for fiction...what extras do readers really want? It's kind of like how DVDs throw in all those bonus features that I know I for one rarely watch. Do fiction readers want that stuff, or maybe are we thinking too far in the box with the extras being the sort of standards of video, graphics, etc? Seems what fiction writers want more of is, er, more fiction.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Said it before, say it again...

I predict - through all this digital *change* no new letters will be added to the alphabet!

Haste yee back ;-)

Michelle McLean said...

I don't know about books, but this will be huge for e-magazines. For me, I'll always love my paper books, but this sounds too fun not to try. I have this vision of a "Harry Potter" newspaper type experience, with moving pictures and floating articles :) Perhaps we aren't quite that advanced yet :)

Kristin Laughtin said...

While I'm all for my books remaining static, I can see enhanced ebooks becoming popular. Look at all the viral tie-in campaigns that are so popular with TVs and movies right now. I can imagine at least some readers wanting to play the games or solve the puzzles or listen to the soundtrack or whatever else accompanies the ebook, and the publishers putting huge effort into it even if only a minority of readers do.

And I won't be surprised if it catches on quickly. At first everyone said iPhones would be too expensive for most people to get...yet I know more than a handful of people who stood in line the day they were released and paid hundreds of dollars they didn't have. Because it's Apple.

AAJ said...

Personally, I just started reading ebooks on my brand new nook, and I love it. I don't think I'll give up paper books, but I certainly see it as a really nice addition.

That being said, I'm not feeling the need for an iTablet or iSlate or whatever it will be. Why should I? Do I need an animated cover to enjoy a book? No. I hate reading on a computer screen! I think it's a fabulous idea for a product, but I've got my laptop and I've got my nook. I don't feel the need to combine all my devices into one.

THAT being said (phew) if it gets people thinking in new directions... go for it. But I hope they still make plain, ol' books (and ebooks!) for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

predictions? we still need good stories, regardless of how they're delivered

Marilyn Peake said...

The article about Amazon is really interesting. Amazon isn’t offering 70% of original paperback or hard cover prices to authors. The article made some extremely interesting points. After slashing Kindle eBook prices to $9.99 which most likely incurred the wrath of authors and publishers, and now facing competition from the iTablet, Amazon’s suddenly offering 70% of eBook sales to authors and publishers. I followed the link in the article to Amazon’s News Release. In order to qualify for 70% of the book price, authors and publishers must agree to quite a few caveats, including setting the list price between $2.99 to $9.99 and allowing Amazon to set even lower prices if competitors do, and giving Amazon not only text-to-speech rights but also a list of other features that "...will grow over time as Kindle continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store." On top of all that, Amazon has started giving away many best-selling books for FREE, using them simply as promotion for other formats of the book. Tricky, eh?

Bane of Anubis said...

This is right up my alley. Tablets are the en vogue thing right now for some reason (as demonstrated by this year's CES). The only way a table will make any sort of waves is if it provides something laptops/netbooks don't, which translates to an e-ink fashioned e-reader (plus all other gadgetry).

Amazon had a fun ride, but its time is done unless they significantly reduce costs on the Kindle (and by significantly, I mean < $100 on DX) b/c the tablet is projected to be $200 - $400 more than the Kindle with significant application advantage.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I've never had my paperback's batteries run out. They're kind of reliable that way.

Rick Daley said...

Wow, that's a lot of rhetorical questions, Nathan ;-)

Who will be the first author with an animated cover?

James Cameron, and it will be 3-D.

Will people crave enhanced e-books or do people want their e-books to remain static and moving-part free?

There are still many who prefer real books to e-books, so the change will be gradual. Those that were early adopters of e-books in general will probably marvel at the new-found gadgetry. Some e-book purists will hold their ground, as will the most traditional tree killers.

Will Apple come to dominate the e-book business the way they do e-music, or will other competitors like Amazon remain strong?

Apple has proven time and time again that they can sell devices. I don't think they will put Amazon out of business, but they will give them a run for their money. Amazon has a lot of momentum, and a very well-established distribution platform. I bet they have several war rooms full of strategic thinkers planning their counter attack. There's too much money on the line for them no to.

Will dedicated devices still appeal to core audiences?

I think the core audience itself is what's at risk, and the new options will fragment it beyond the simple e-book vs. print battle. This diversity will make total market domination difficult for any one company.

Will people still read books on a device so eminently capable of distracting you with movies, the Internet, games, and anything the geeks of tomorrow invent?

Yes. Those that like to read will read. My hope is that those who are not likely to read will stumble upon its joys when they have that multi-functional device in their hands and get bored with the other toys.

What about you, any predictions?

The sun will rise tomorrow.

Ben-M said...

I'm not holding my breath. If it features backlit LCD then I can't see how it's anything more than a giant iPhone. To me, a big attraction of the Kindle and its ilk remains the reflective screen.

There are colour and multimedia reflective screens in the offing; when such a device comes out that lets me critique or mark up a draft or textbook I'll be more inclined to dish out the readies. The allure of "buying" books for a device when the future of DRM is a muddy and uncertain quagmire leaves that feature out of my consideration.

Shelby said...

Apparently, i've been under a rock. I know not of this -- until your post.

So - no opinion .. no time to form one really.

would someone please come get this rock from on top of me?

well, anyway, I'm sure it'll all shake down without me.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Setting aside all the bells and whistles, nothing replaces the hard copy. I hate reading electronically. For some reason it distracts me. I'll pick a good ole fashioned book over some electronic device everytime.

FWIW, my techno savvy children also agree with me.

mkcbunny said...

There's something to be said for having as much of your media in one place as possible, especially for travel, but I really like my Kindle as a "plain" tablet without all of the distractions Nathan cites.

So I don't think that having the Internets distracting form my books is necessarily a good thing. And really, that Apple tablet is going to cost a fortune (I'm guessing $899), so I couldn't afford one anyway.

But I'm guessing the bells, whistles, and motion are coming to e-readers everywhere eventually. I just hope that we'll be able to quiet down the visual noise if we want to.

ryan field said...

I'm looking forward to it. And I hope we'll be able to personalize it, like phones and some of the dashboards in newer cars. The one thing I've been disapointed in with e-readers is that they are so gray and dull.

Livia said...

But it's not going to be e-ink though. People made sucha big deal about e-ink with the kindle that I wonder why everybody's just disregarding that aspect of the apple tablet.

Ryan said...

The timing of all this makes me feel like I could run on nails. Stoked is the word these days. I've been saying for three years now that my memoir will be a multimedia experience with dozens of videos to go along with the book. And now there are platforms and devices besides computers to support it.

The Vooks(Simon and Schuster) have had mixed reviews for the fiction pieces and great reviews for the non-fiction. I think it's a tough go for fiction unless the publisher or author can spend a great deal on actors and production. However, with today's technology and local acting talent one can find,low budget quality indies can be made.

I'd still want a hardcover release and then maybe a year later have the e-book come out with videos and even excerpts never seen before. That's what I wrote in my proposal anyways. First things first...find and agent.

Here are a couple excerpts and a videos:

http://thechinproject.wordpress.com/memoir/the-monsterchapter-13-excerpt/

http://thechinproject.wordpress.com/memoir/round-up-chapter-8-excerpt/

Orange Slushie said...

i have a kindle (which i dig) and i also love paper books - i've never subscribed to the either/or mentality. both have pros and cons, so why not have options? i also love apple products, and i'd be surprised if their new i-thingie isn't an awesome and covetable piece of the-future-is-upon-us gadgetry. BUT. do i actually want a book that can surf the net? no, i don't think i do. as nathan acknowledges, there are already so many distractions. i already have to take my laptop to the library, far away from my wireless connection, in order to get any real writing done (and it takes my breath away how much more productive i am in a period of, say, 2 hours, there as opposed to at home where i'm always 'quickly checking my email' or 'just looking something up online'). that's writer discipline - what about reader discipline? the beauty of a good book is the way you get lost in it. for that to happen, i need to disconnect once in a while.

Brittany said...

I despise e-books. I think I'll begin protesting in public if they start getting rid of wonderful books and replacing them with the evil Kindle. *shudders*

Lorelei Armstrong said...

I knew I kept the electronic rights to my novel for a reason, and it wasn't to fight the html death match with the Kindle. I do loves me some paper books, but I also loves me some Apple!

Ryan said...

@ Rowenna about extra features on DVDs.

I actually love watching "The Making Of" if they have it on the DVD. The deleted scenes are good to watch too because it helps me see how they wanted to keep the story on track. I also really like hearing commentary by the directors and actors. Seeing and hearing the process and the problems they had to overcome to make the movie is pretty cool.

More than once I've enjoyed the extras even more than the movie.

Terry said...

Some animation, as in trailers, appeals to me.

But, I still prefer the good old-fashioned novel, for reading. No distractions.

The novel, is more internal, more personal, and you get to imagine the world - not some producer's, director's or actor's vision of that world. It's more of a collaboration between you and the author.

More intimate, and therefore, more satisfying.

Kay said...

Are electric based reading devices the wave of the future?

I always wonder what happens when the electricity is down ... and the batteries need to be recharged. After all, computers are predicated on an abundance of electricity.

What if everyone is taking cheap electricity for granted?

Vacuum Queen said...

The funny thing is....people in the graphic drawing world are wondering how it'll change THEIR workspace. And folks in the desktop computer, or even laptop computer world are wondering if they'll be obsolete soon. I mean, this iWhatever is going to do much more than be an eReader.

I own 2 desktop PC's and a MacBook (laptop) and the one I reach for the most? My iPhone. If only it could "do everything." I'm hoping it will soon.

Naya said...

I think it'll be a flop. Some people will get it cause it's the latest neat thing, but for most it will be too expensive and not worth their effort (and expense). So it'll die out...

Then 5 to 10 years down the road, someone will create something similar only better and much more affordable. And it's going to be a hit!

Remember the laserdisk...

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Kindle, look out. That's all I have to say. I spend a lot of money on gadgets and this one is going to get my hard-earned dollars, too.

It's a netbook/e-reader replacement.

Erin McGuire said...

I'm surprised there aren't more comments from illustrators. Rather than just assume that this technology will be used for cheap animated novelties, why not exploit it to its fullest potential?

People like reading books, not reading with distractions, but illustrations can be a really powerful supplement to good writing. Can this be an opportunity for a renaissance of good illustration?

I'd love to hear what you think about this, Nathan. Will color e-books make publishers more receptive to including illustration (not animated, just good ol' pure art awesomeness) in their books, with no color printing costs attached and a hopefully growing readership?

K.O. bookgirl said...

One summer, I was in the middle of reading "An Instance of the Fingerpost" when I accidentally left it out on my deck. In the rain. Overnight. Anyone who has read it knows how large a book it is. Then it swelled to twice its size, and I had to read the rest of it like a sideways rolodex. But it was worth it!

I don't think an iTablet or Kindle would be nearly as forgiving of the things I put my books through.

And if I do get my novel published, I hope it becomes a dog-eared, metro-toted, crammed-in-a-purse enjoyable read. I won't even mind if it's left out in the rain.

Rowenna said...

@Ryan--I'm glad they're finding an audience--I actually feel kind of bad not ever watching what I know someone put hard work into. I guess I just have to really enjoy the film to want to see more in the way of making-of or other features.

I wonder--could author/editor commentary, "making of" features, or, for researched materials, optional research notes be a good addition to e-books? You could be reading along and have a tabbed option to read where a historical fiction author found the source to back up a plot point in the book, for instance.

Lady Glamis said...

Thanks for keeping us so posted, Nathan! I have no predictions. Maybe I'll wait and see what's announced tomorrow. ;)

jungletwins said...

These things do have their benefits. I live on a tropical island (poor me) and have watched a tragically large number of books go to ruin on my shelves due to the climate here. Consequently, I now buy less books. This nifty device has the potential to change that.

Mira said...

Marilyn,

Good information, and yes, I know. I saw that part in Nathan's post about caveats. I chose to ignore it.

The important thing is that the concept: the author will be receiving 70% royalities has entered the collective consciousness.

That's a mighty fine concept. :)

DG said...

If animated book covers on a color Apple tablet sound interesting, think of how the marketing of books via trailers will explode.

I can't wait to see what Apple does right next.

Anonymous said...

It's a tablet PC. It's not even in the remotely the same space as the amazon Kindle or Nook. Will this device change publishing? I doubt it.

I just don't see myself sitting down with a tablet with a backlit screen and reading a book. Folks have a hard enough time coughing up the dough for a Kindle.

I can see the device competing with portable DVD players as an alternative media device for playing audio and video files. I can see people playing video games on the device. But I just don't see people reading whole novels on it. I can see people reading your blog on it and short news articles.

My Kindle is fine, and when color e-ink comes out, I'll probably opt to buy one that does color. I'll also stick with my DS as my portable video game device for now.

Now, will the publishers pushing for this device to be a Kindle killer please SIT down!

Linguista said...

Nathan, I do live under a rock. It's called JAPAN! I only found out about Apple's tablet this week, I think on Rejectionist's blog.

For me, books and movies are too seperate things. When I watch a movie I want to see things. When I read a book, I want to imagine them. Sometimes it's even hard to watch book-to-screen movies, because the characters don't look the way I imagine or sound the way I imagine or say the things I imagine. I just don't want to lose out on the imagination factor.

But then, I don't own a Kindle or an ipod even. I like old fashioned stuff, like books and CD's.

Do you think that the ease of self-publishing wiht Kindle will have a major impact on the industry? Going to go look for/start a topic in the forums on that.

T. Anne said...

I'm definitely ready for the lurch. How cool would it be to view the book trailer, the author's playlist, an author interview, and perhaps a picture of the muse? OK, well maybe not that last one, but still. And yes, I believe it is a harbinger of much geek ingenuity to come. Cannot wait.

Rachel said...

It sounds so distracting that I am freefalling away from the whole idea. Old timey books are good enough.

Anonymous said...

My hands hurt. Seriously. I'm on a computer at work. When I get home, I go to my, uh, MacBook. Then there's the iPhone. My shoulders won't stop hurting. My wrists won't stop hurting. I had to switch over to using the mouse with my left hand yesterday. I don't ever remember having this problem with a paperback. I'm amazed and excited about the technological advances we've made as a species for sure. Yes. I can talk to someone on a handheld device. Listen to my music on a handheld device. Write, send text messages, pay my bills, read the news, read blogs and a book, all on a HANDheld device. But the thought of another handheld device that requires me to punch buttons with either my thumbs or index fingers just sends shivers down my spine. I think I'm going to stick with the paper for a little while longer, and, uh, let my hands and shoulders get some rest.

Sofie Bird said...

So close, Apple, but you didn't actually make anything new here. This is just a sexy tablet PC.

Get your hands on that transparent LCD technology, and put an e-ink screen behind your touchscreen - then I'll buy. Hell, I'll buy two. If I want to play games, I get the rapid response of an LCD. If I want to read a book, I get the anti-eye-tiring reflective display.

Until e-ink can match LCDs for refresh rate, that's the closest you're going to get to what you're trying to do, here.

Whirlochre said...

It would be a shame if all the frills 'n' spills multimedia became a distraction to the main event — or superceded it entirely. Once there were horse-drawn carriages, now there are cars, kind of thing. But animated covers sound good. And horror novels could play scary music during the killer scenes — maybe even feature screams of pain (and I refer here to the author's own "how this book came to be written" bio)

Donna Hole said...

Hmm, I love the book trailers, but doubt I want my book playing animations. And, it's little, right? I mean, like, smaller that the screen of an iPhone? I don't care if it can cook me breakfast, if I have to read a 2 inch screen, its toast.

And seriously, if I have EVERYTHIING on one device, and I happen to be leaning over the toilet, and my device dropps into the flushing stream and gurgles downward, am I happy I can't dial 611 and get at least my cell back?

Seriously, only SuperAgents like Nathan reads a novel for pleasure, blogs, updates twitter, edits submissions, sends out revisions on his own novel, sends e-mail answers to "ask the agent", soothes writer worries, blogs, and texts his mother all on the same device. At the same time.

Dedicated e-reader folks. If you're taking a break from your busy afternoon - don't be distracted by updates while you're reading the newest -xxx whatever vampire - novel.

Think Kindle, or Sony, for that relaxing moment with a good e-book.

............dhole

ciara said...

if it can do everything isn't it just going to be some kind of flat laptop? apple always take things too far. we don't need all that stuff! like iphones, i know lots of people love them but does anyone really need a phone with an app that imitates a light saber? i mean really. i hate to sound like an old fart, when i'm only 23, but i'd rather get back to basics

Scott said...

No predictions, but I really, really think I want one. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to give up my first born child in order to afford one.

Cam Snow said...

here's two thoughts for you:
1) The tablet will not trump the traditional small, black and white e-Reader because (a) neither authors nor publishers are ready to generate enhanced media; (b) most people I know want a smaller portable e-Reader, not a bigger one (i.e., a thin paperback size); and (c) I think traditional eReaders will drop to $20 (yes twenty) in the next couple of years... I wouldn't even hesitate to bet that in 5 years you will have the option of buying the hardcover for $27.95 or the eReader, pre-loaded with the book for the same price.

(2)You know what I call enhanced media books? Movies with subtitles! If I wanted to read a movie, I'd turn my DVD player to French language option and put on the english subs.

Do the talking heads at these tech companies really think that authors or publishers want to put background music or video clips in their books? Not unless you want book prices to SKYROCKET!

Finally, the one thing that I think could be interesting (which I mentioned in your forum) is that these new devices do open up the possibility of doing targeted advertising within an eBook (possibly an alternative revenue model)

Maripat said...

For me e-ink is wonderful. So much easier on my eyes than reading from a screen. Saying that tough as much as I like my itouch I would love it to be bigger. So yes, I'm anxious to see this.

Ted said...

Agree with Cam Snow... "multimedia e-books" eventually become movies with subtitles.

When you start adding images to e-books, you take away the reader's obligation to conjure a scene, which means you're diluting the imaginative experience. It's why as a kid I always felt ambivalent about those great line-art sketches in my hardcover copy of TOM SAWYER... that's not what Injun Joe looks like!

When you start adding time-based media (like animations or video), you're taking away the reader's ability to pace the story as well.

"Enhancing" e-books with graphics definitely creates the potential for interesting hybrids, but at some point it means the experience isn't really reading anymore.

Abby Stevens said...

I still just really, really enjoy reading a regular ol' book, big bulky spine, pages, and all. :)

Heather said...

Tablets have been around for years, or has everyone forgot? They're not huge sells now. Apple is VERY good at hype, so this one probably will sell, but it'll be far more expensive then the general consumer will be looking to pay. You have your Apple Geeks who are mostly teenagers with money burning a hole in their pocket and not the technical know-how to realize they could get the SAME EXACT THING at sometimes HALF THE PRICE by other vendors. And then you have those gadget hounds that just want to buy the new shiny. Personally, I'm holding off on any and all e-readers until there is a standard format. I don't want to buy a Sony e-reader and then my less than technical friends buy me a a Kindle gift card (do those exist?) not realizing it's useless to me. I want my books to be transferable from device to device like your typical mp3s are today (however not iTunes. Heaven forbid you use something other than an Apple product or a regular computer to listen to your iTunes!)

Kathryn Magendie said...

*crawls out from under rock, blinks*

As always, as an author or writer, curious to see what happens - as a reader, give me my bound books I can snuggle up with in bed at night!

JMCOOPER said...

I'm so horribly torn! Each time a new electronic coolness becomes available, I am just as interested as the nerd at Radio Shack, but I love, love, love traditional books. I love them displayed, I love to lend them to friends, I love to write my name in them, I love to hold the story in my hands. But the technology is just so...friggen cool! I remember "computers" class in the mid-80's; programming apple computers with strange codes...look how far we've come! How can you not be fascinated? (but I will still single-handedly keep B&N in business)

Trace said...

I want to grumble and say that I prefer paper all the way, but since I'm an ebook writer, that would be silly.

I'm just too damned poor to afford one of these pretty, shiny, wonderful, lovely little jobbies. So it's easier to say that I prefer paper than to admit that I can't have one!

Kate Sheeran said...

*grips Kindle* PLEASE don't take away my precious just-like-a-book-but-better device, nooooo!

Scott said...

Okay, the IPad is official and . . . well, it's pretty much just a bigger version of the IPhone, except you can't make phone calls from it! It looks neat, love the ereader feature, but not enough to fork over the money for a bigger version of what I have now. Dang!

Anonymous said...

I MUST have this one!
I was not tempted by the other tablets. This one just wows me!

Nathan Bransford said...

I'm excited as well. We're discussing in the forums.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Meet you there!
It's just INCREDIBLE!!!!

onewriterslife said...

Nathan, this post was fall off your chair funny! So wait a sec, while I pick myself back up.

I mentioned on my blog yesterday that I like the old-fashioned BOOKS..the kind you and your kidlets can snuggle up with for storytime. Snuggling up with an ereader, no matter what the geeks call it, isn't going to cut it for Parent & Child bonding, IMHO. But, hey, if you don't have kids, and have $499 just burning a hole in your pocket, go for it.

I haven't shelled out the money for a Kindle because I was waiting for them to design one with color, but now that the iPad (snickering over the name) is out...I might have to get one. It's way more than an ereader...so that's a plus until tomorrow morning when some other geek company launches theirs.

Jenifer Fox Your Child's Strengths said...

Content will continue to be king.

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