eBooks – Publishers Don’t Screw The Pooch on This One Please

I’d love to buy an eBook Reader, I pretty much have the one I want picked out too, the BeBook One however I’m being a bit cautious here.
Since Apple have launched their iPad I’m really hoping that Publishers don’t cock this up. I don’t have anything against the iPad, it’s just not an eBook Reader, it doesn’t have ePaper and so the reading experience is going to hard on the eyes for a full book.

But where I worry publishers might really screw the pooch with the iPad is by losing the point of what a book is. A  book is a collection of information, whether that’s a story or a text book. If you watch Penguin Books’ iPad presentation here you can see they want to make books a more interactive thing. Great, for kids books, and if done in the right way great for adult books. But these guys are publishers, not technologists and so unless they get the right people on board sooner rather than later books are going to get ugly.

Kevin Rose of Digg.com spoke about some of the possibilities for ebooks on the iPad with some interesting ideas. I like the idea of linking the book with your social networks. So as you’re reading you can see who else you know is reading this book, chapter, even page. I like the idea for encyclopaedias of making them media rich, and  hyperlinking. So you’re reading something about Winston Churchill and you can play a video or audio clip of one of his speeches. Then it says about Sir Anthony Eden, the Prime Minister who followed after Churchill with a link to the entry. Penguin, comparatively, look like they might be going over the top.

My other fear is that publishers will panda to the iPad and make these bright colourful media rich eBooks that will be no use on eBook readers. From what I understand about eBook formats the iPad eBooks that Penguin are looking to publish are in ePub format. Which is a format readable by eBook readers, but how will it look? Are they testing their books on these readers too.
If I buy my BeBook One now will it be obsolete by the end of the year?

My last concern, I’d like to be able to replace all my current books with eBooks so I keep my existing library and can add to it in the future. However not every book coming out is available as an eBook. Publishers really need to pull their finger out on this. Embrace that this change is here and work out their position on it. I hope that publishers have a road map here and that they are talking to the hardware providers too.

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