eBook emphasis plays to iPad’s weaknesses.

In an bizarre way, people seem to be looking to devices such as Apple’s new iPad as the future of electronic book technology.  This seems…shortsighted.  Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of the major complaints people have had regarding eReader adoption.

The lack of the “feel” of a book while reading is a very common theme.  Nobody can deny that a Kindle in your hand isn’t quite the same thing as a paperback.  Fortunately, after a few minutes of reading, the weight and display size are close enough that you hardly care.  What are the chances this will prove true with a 1.5lb half inch thick tablet?

As a tablet, we also have to consider the fact that eInk isn’t involved.  For many people this will initially seem a good thing.  After all, what complaints about the Kindle don’t begin with the words “no color screen” or “slow page turns”?  As anybody who has spent some time with the Kindle can tell you, however, the perception of “staring into a screen” that so many people are concerned with never seems to arrive with the eInk screen.  Will the benefits outweigh the loss for iPad owners?  How many people do you know who can spend hours a day reading books on their laptop?

Sure, Amazon is hedging their bets with the new Kindle software app for the iPad, but it seems unlikely that it will end up being necessary in the long run.

11 thoughts on “eBook emphasis plays to iPad’s weaknesses.

  1. Maybe I am a minority, but I routinely read on my netbook laptop, maybe 1-2 hours daily, since I don’t have more time to read. ;-) Maybe I am used to LCD screen as a software developer, but I really don’t see it a problem. I was thinking about buying an eInk reader, but after evaluating it, I didn’t much liked the slow page turns, inability to read in dark without a lamp, and I would also want to occasionally use the device also for surfing or emails. So for me iPad or HP slate will give me better functionality, while a lack of eInk is not an issue for me.

  2. It appears that having the ability to control the brightness on the iPad seems to have overcome the “staring into a bright light” problem. On the other hand, the iPad does weigh about as much as a large print book.

  3. Have you tried reading on the iPad? I owned a Kindle 2 for about a year and liked it OK. I loved the small size and weight as well as the ever-lasting battery but could not stand many other aspects:
    1) the clunky non-touch-screen interface had me trying to press buttons on the screen after a full year of use
    2) the slow refresh speed inherent to its epaper technology kept reminding me I was dealing with a machine, not a book
    3) the lack of proper web browsing ability made even simple Wikipedia lookups painful

    The iPad is not perfect by any means and I would certainly be happier with it if it were lighter and its battery could last for a full week. But that said, reading on it is indeed a superior experience. Books look and feel much better than on the Kindle. As the previous commenter mentioned, you can control the brightness so it’s actually easy on the eyes.
    The fonts, the responsiveness when turning pages, the ability to literally touch the page to search, lookup or highlight a passage: everything just feels much better. Much closer to a real books reading experience.

    Lastly, I own several books with illustrations such as cookbooks, children’s books, photography books and graphic design books that were simply not readable on the Kindle. I am now rediscovering them with delight on the iPad.

    At the end of the day, I think Amazon is a great content company, not a hardware company or an expert at operating systems. The best Kindle hardware will be made by others like Apple who have so much more expertise and dedication when it comes to these complex things.

    If Amazon focuses on what it does well: providing the most books in the best format for the most affordable price and with the most user friendly features (voice, copy/paste, etc.), they’ll do very well, and so will we!

  4. It’s a color, backlit, large format Kindle. Turning down the brightness doesn’t affect the intelligence.

    “Don’t you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.”

    I like to read in the dark. Amazon doesn’t have Kindle software for Windows Mobile.

  5. I agree. While I’m very excited to get my hands on the iPad for many other reasons, it won’t be for eBook reading. I love my Kindle and have actually found (after having read dozens of books on the Kindle) that switching back to paper is cumbersome. I believe each device fills an important space and don’t really understand why that’s not okay.

  6. The iPad is heavier than a paperback? So what? It’s the same weight as a “Trade Paperback” and equal to or considerably lighter in weight than most hardback books. My copy of “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” is 3 lb in weight, twice the weight of the iPad, and that never stopped me reading it.

  7. Wow, heard of Apple fan-boys, but seems this was written by a Kindle Fan-Boy. Truth is, many people will choose to buy an iPad because they can read on it – and not just books, but full colored magazines, children’s books with pictures, etc., etc.

    The thought that Kindle created an iPad app that will eventually be useless is just really silly. The Kindle is still good, and I like mine, but I am planning on getting an iPad, and am super happy it will have the Kindle app.

    This is one article that is not based on much reasoning…

  8. I haven’t seen the Ipad live so this may change once that happens. But I love my kindle and I don’t think that’s going to change. I don’t like reading in computer’s screen. The e-ink technology is great for that. And it is even better for reading with natural light. And I don’t know why the page turn is an issue. How fast can you turn a page when reading a paper book?

  9. I think the touch input support is critical. I was given a kindle as a gift, but pretty quickly returned it. Much of the reading I do is reference/technical where I use the same information many times. Being able to navigate around in large documents (be they Biblical or technical) is something the kindle really needs to address. It is sooooo painful trying to make one’s way around with it. And trying to use it for web browsing, although possible, was even more painful. Very slow, poor rendering, very awkward. The display technology is great if all you want to do is read a linear paperback novel all the time–but for folks who have more general reading requirements which go beyond pure entertainment, it leaves a lot to be desired. One person asked why it isn’t OK for different devices to be used for what they are best at. This sounds good at first, but when you wind up with 3-4 devices (phone, PDA, kindle, iPad, netbook, desktop) and much of what you do could be done on any of them, the configuration hassle and learning curve of using different devices for things with a great deal over overlap is a major headache–not to mention the cost. Something to think about.

  10. This may be a little late…

    I have a Kindle and I love it. I work with a laptop all day and I hate reading in the screen. The IPad is very sexy and I may end up with one in the future, but if I do that it will not be to read books on that. I can’t stand reading a document for more than 2 minutes in a computer screen. That is the beauty of the Kindle. I can read my Kindle for hours. And with natural light, the difference will likely be more dramatic.

    And every time I can, I try to compare with other e-book readers, with Kindle still being the best.

    And with respect to the speed at which it turn pages, how fast do you do that in real life? I frankly don’t see that much of a difference.

  11. re: page turning speed.

    it all depends how fast you read. One of the reasons I upgraded from the kindle 2 to the DX was that I read fast enough that it was taking a significant fraction of my reading time to turn the pages, interrupting my train of thought (a problem made significantly worse if I increase the font size to read more comfortably in lower light areas) The DX screen is enough larger that the page turning is enough less of a percentage of the time that it’s _much_ less annoying.

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