iPad on sale April 3rd

Just a quick update to say — the iPad will be available on April 3rd, which is a week later than the rumors. From Apple:

Apple® today announced that its magical and revolutionary iPad will be available in the US on Saturday, April 3, for Wi-Fi models and in late April for Wi-Fi + 3G models. In addition, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.

Beginning a week from today, on March 12, US customers can pre-order both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple’s online store (www.apple.com) or reserve a Wi-Fi model to pick up on Saturday, April 3, at an Apple retail store.

I’m happy there’s a pre-order option. I can see how it might be fun to camp out in line, but personally I want mine reserved for me.

(thanks to Steph for the info!)

iPad may go on sale March 26th — getting ready for iBooks

I’m a junkie: pretty much every day now I’m Googling “ipad release date”, looking for news — finally, this morning, MacRumors.com says there are “whispers” that the iPad will go on sale March 26, at 6 PM.

The iPad is getting a lot of pre-release criticism, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone. I don’t recommend it, I don’t dis-recommend it — but I know I, personally, want one. I use a desktop for all my heavy computing. I use (and love) my iPhone for my mobile needs. But there’s a niche that’s missing for me. I bought a netbook a few months ago, mostly to fill in while the desktop (“Stan the Man”, I call it — yes, I name my computers) was out getting repairs. I have nothing positive to say about netbooks. Steve Job is right: it really is just a crappy laptop. I need the touchscreen, the media capabilities. And I’ve grown very curious about e-reading. I’ve done a bit of it on my iPhone; it’s not bad, but the screen is a little small. I’ve been curious about the Kindle and the Nook, but just couldn’t stomach the price tag, for a one-purpose device. As Roger Stewart, editorial director of McGraw-Hill Professional, put it:

“The reason publishers have long believed the iPad would have the potential to be a game changer is not because it was designed to be an e-book reader,” he said. “It’s a game changer because it does everything else well and, by the way, it also happens to be a great e-book reader. Most people are reluctant to pay $300 for an e-book reader, but if the reader is just part of the device that you bought for all those other reasons the barrier goes away.”

Exactly.

So, I’m still Googling, and watching the news. I seriously doubt I’ll camp out for the iPad. I didn’t for the iPhone, and instead just walked into an Apple Store the next day and bought one in five minutes. But I’ll be tempted.

Why buy the cow when you can read the milk for free?

E-books have been the story for 2010 so far — who’s reading them, who’s not, how much they should sell for, and what you should read them on.

Publishers have objected to lowering the cost of e-books, and in a much-publicized dispute between Amazon and MacMillan, so far the publishers are winning. On one hand, I, too, agree that we shouldn’t devalue books, that artificially low costs give the impression that books are cheap and not worth spending money on. On the other hand, as a consumer, I’m still saying that if you want me to boy an e-book instead of a paper book, you’ve got to give me big incentives — especially a lower price. Why would I pay $15 dollars for a book I’ll be able to buy in paperback for that much in a few months? And I’m not the only reader who feels that way. Those of us who “value” books the most are the same people who consume more of them than anyone else, and we can’t afford not to be price-conscious. At the same time, we’re well aware of our options for reading. There is, after all, always the library. 🙂

Then there are all the free e-books out there, which is the big story, really, as to what’s driving the rise in e-book popularity this year, in my opinion. It’s not just books in the public domain — new authors and old have found that giving away books can actually help their sales in the long run. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge. Sometimes it’s a new author with a new series: they’ll give away the first book for free in hopes you’ll get hooked and buy the second. And sometimes it’s an older author with a new release, hoping to cash in on the same ploy. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. Publishers, of course, are less than thrilled.

Similarly, a spokesman for Penguin Group USA said: “Penguin has not and does not give away books for free. We feel that the value of the book is too important to do that.”

Of course, that’s not at all true. Penguin gives review copies for free, I’m sure, and one might argue that this new e-book business model isn’t completely different from that.

I can’t help but feel that publishing companies are going to have to come to grips with that new model whether they want to or not. More and more people are cottoning on to the idea of e-readers; even I plan on buying an iPad this spring and giving it a whirl, in addition to already reading on my phone, from time to time. I don’t think bookstores are going to go away, not entirely (though I’m a little more worried about the traditional public library). But just as the music industry has had to adapt to digital music and find a way to make it profitable (and they have), publishers are going to have to do the same to incorporate digital reading into their framework.