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Can the iPad Kill the Book?

Interactive Alice in Wonderland iPad App. Screenshot

What to do if you want to publish a book, but can’t get a publisher to take on your work? Or, say, you do find a publisher, but the publisher’s strengths aren’t in social media marketing or e-book publishing. With the proliferation of devices such as the iPad, do you even need (or want) a publisher?  Now, authors can imagine beyond the book as they work with app. developers to ‘publish’ works not limited by paper or text.

I read an interesting article on TechCrunch ‘Dear Authors, Your Next Book Should be an App, not an iBook‘ by Cody Brown.  Cody makes a very good point about authors who simply see the iPad as a place to publish a book, the author is completely missing the point.  Cody clearly sees the iPad from the reader (or user) perspective and asks :

why not make it like a game so that in order to get to the next ‘chapter’ you need to pass a test? Does the content of the book even need to be created entirely by me? Can I leave some parts of it open to edit by those who buy it and read it? Do I need to charge $9.99, or can I charge $99.99?

So, If you publish your book as an app., and the app. adds interactivity features unlike traditional books, is it even still a book or is it something else?  Actually, it can’t even really be called an e-book. To truly portray what the new, interactive, crowd-sourced, game-enriched literary creation can do, we really need to think outside the book completely.   It’s easy to see how this new way of interacting with literary content through sound, motion, video, internet connectivity, sound recording, etc. can capture those who wouldn’t pick up a traditional book or even an e-book.  With the continued growth of touch screen internet-connected tablets, educational and children’s materials that were traditionally published as books may find a cheaper and fantastically more interesting home as an app.  Yes, for now print and e-books are very much in vogue.  I predict a strong trend toward interactive literature that will eventually carve into the already waning print book market, and even supplant the e-book market, especially if prices remain competitive.

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3 responses to “Can the iPad Kill the Book?

  1. Matt September 23, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Interesting theory: books being sold as apps. I wonder if someone were to do that, would it catch on? I love my books and I am ok with the fact that books are being evolved into ebooks. However I don’t think that the ebook is going to kill the book based on what the mp3 has done to cds. Yes, the mp3 has seriously removed cds from the top of the music heap but the cds are still around aren’t they?

    • ginac September 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

      Matt,

      I think the transition will occur when it is no longer cost-effective to produce alternative formats — younger folks will gravitate to the newer formats. How many Millennials have ever used a rotary phone or a phonograph record?

  2. hollythestrange September 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I really hope that iPad doesn’t “kill” books. Stories shouldn’t be like games, or on screens that cause headaches from prolonged staring. There’s a simple plaesure in actually going out to the local book shop and browsing, or buying something. I don’t like iPads, (see my blog for why) but I love books. In this technological day and age it’s nice to be able to find enjoyment from words printed on paper.

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