My iPad Test Drive and Are Ebooks Killing B&N?
August 27, 2010
I have two new things to report on the ebook front. First, I took an iPad for a test drive. If you haven’t done this, it really is a lot of fun.
I went to the Apple Store on the Plaza and sat in on a beginner’s class for iPad users. Although the instructor is also a sales person, this wasn’t a sales pitch. Everyone in the class (except for me) already owned an iPad. It was very comfortable and intuitive. It was a little heavier than I expected. I didn’t find the keyboard/text entry system to be very comfortable. I cannot imagine taking notes from a meeting on this device. There was a lot of talk about this device replacing the netbook or laptop. Let me just put it this way. Without a functional built-in text entry system, without a built in camera, and without the ability to manage or create the storage folders, this device won’t be replacing the netbook anytime soon. I certainly can’t kick my netbook to the curb in favor of an iPad!
As you suspect, my interest in the iPad is as an ebook reader. It does an excellent job with ebooks and online book and magazine sites. I was very pleased with the screen presentation, navigation, ability to bookmark, and ability to annotate. However, if I were buying this device primarily as an ebook reader, I would want to buy the 3G version. That means I would have to spend something close to $700 (not counting the monthly access fee from AT&T) to read ebooks. That seems a little steep to me.
Second, can we draw any conclusions from the recent news from Barnes & Noble? Bloomberg.com reported that, “Barnes & Noble Inc. put itself up for sale as a shift to digital books led to losses at the biggest U.S. bookstore chain.”
This story is a little more complex than simply concluding that ebooks are killing the bookstore. Likewise, I don’t think we can conclude that because Barnes & Noble is having trouble that libraries are next in line. First, there are countless differences between a library and a bookstore. We should explore those differences some time! Second, and as I have said in the past, technology is not our enemy but it does create many new challenges. So, I don’t think libraries can conclude much about our future from this development.
Steven V. Potter
Director of Libraries