28 January 2010

So Apple FINALLY released it!

Yes folks, Apple has FINALLY launched their tablet device. And what a launch. Did anyone NOT hear about it I ask you? Talk about hype! And when the moment arrived, the device wasn't called the iTablet or iSlate as rumoured. Instead they opted for the iPad.

The marketing of the iPad is now in full swing. Just hop onto the Apple (US) website for demos. (The Australian site didn't even have the product listed when I checked earlier...)

It seems we've been waiting for this for some time. A thin tablet that appears to have it all - web, email, photos, video - with the touch of a finger. 10 hour battery life, wireless etc. Tick Tick Tick. And then there's the apps. 140,000 of them. It will even run the apps you've already downloaded to your iPhone or iPod touch. I must admit the price surprised me - I did think it was going to be much more expensive - so I'm glad they've kept it reasonable.

With the launch of the iPad, Apple entered the digital publishing world in a big way and announced the iBook portal. It wasn't a surprise they created their own. We have iTunes for music so naturally iBook was next.

We know the ebook market has taken off in the U.S. and to a certain degree in the U.K. Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs said Amazon had done a great job with the Kindle and ebook focus but “We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a bit further,” he said.

Five of the world’s leading publisher including Penguin and HarperCollins have already signed up to supply content. I suspect they will all follow. They'd be crazy not to! I keep hearing the comment from the Frankfurt Supply Chain meeting last October: "It will be Apple, it will be cool, and everyone will want it".

Anyway, I've yet to hear from Australian publishers what they think about the launch of the iPad and what it means locally for ebooks. Another sale going offshore I suspect? I'm not privy to rights discussions on this one but from what I gather most of the management of ebooks has been done at Head Offices overseas and the local offices get "compensated" accordingly.

I will catch up with many publishers in the coming weeks for general business meetings. Ebooks are always on the agenda even though many local publishers don't control their ebook offer. I also expect there will be some lively discussions at the APA's Digital Symposium. I've been asked to speak at the Melbourne one -- for all of 10 minutes! -- on ebooks for libraries so it should be a very interesting day!! :-)

13 January 2010

Bring on the Blio

So Baker & Taylor has the next big thing in ebooks according to some industry experts. Blio was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas and what's special about this e-reading platform is its "true-to-print display". The software is free and will be out in February to most internet-enabled devices. At this stage we don't know about rights restrictions or territorial issues. When Sony updated their portal recently you had to state your country and there were only a couple of choices... as we know, Australia did not rate a mention as technically it's not on offer here. But I digress...

Blio is a software platform designed for computers, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. It displays books as PDFs in exactly the same layout and design as they appear in print. Because color is preserved, the software may be an especially good choice for illustrated books. This will be nice! Other features include:

* Open your book in 3D “book view” for realistic page turning
* “Text-only” mode for optimal display on small screens
* Display dual pages, or tile multiple pages
* Enlarge text without distortion
* Enjoy a full color, high-resolution display

Blio is a partnership with Baker & Taylor (yes, for those of you who know where I work, that's our new owners folks!). I'll start working my way through the B&T ebook world and see what I can find out. I'm particularly interested to see about library licensing but from the looks of the blio website it's not a library model...at this stage. I still have the words of the CEO of one of the world's largest trade houses ringing in my ear that he is anti-libraries having ebook access to any of his titles but last time I checked, he had them listed with Overdrive which has been already integrated into major libraries here including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sutherland, Yarra Plenty etc. But yes, I digress yet again.

The Blio platform will have some 50,000 titles available when the product is launched. B&T has suggested they will contribute some 180,000 titles in due course.

Will be interesting to see where the Blio takes us....!!!