Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Problem with ePub on the iPad

Some interesting thoughts on e-books, the iPad and the ePub format. I too was hoping for the opportunity for much richer e-books - almost a complete re-thinking of what a book is or will be.

The iPad and e-Books: A Missed Opportunity
The use of the EPUB format, however, shows that Apple is not yet ready to make that move. Although I applaud the use of an open standard like EPUB, the reality is that EPUB’s interactive features are very limited right now, basically limited to simple images and videos. I was hoping for more advanced features.[emphasis added - MQ]

What kind of features? How about reading a fantasy novel and tapping a single button to pull up a map showing exactly where you are in that fantasy world. How about tapping on any name in a non-fiction novel and getting biographical information about that character? How about textbooks with graphs that can be enlarged and class networking features built-in? And these are just some suggestions from an unimaginative dolt.

Of course many of these possibilities exist via iPad applications. The New York Times presentation at the iPad keynote indicates some of the possibilities available for print publications. The only problem with that is that I don’t want a device with a hundred different applications, one for each book or magazine that I read. What I want is for Apple to do what it’s best at: creating a standard framework with consistent features and enough flexibility to allow developers to create a rich user experience.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I was wondering the same thing about ebooks on the iPad--how will Apple support multi-media interaction? My guess is that custom book apps (non-epub books) will be indistinguishable from their epub equivalents as far as the iBookstore is concerned.


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