Apple’s tablet as the killer e-reader

Updated on September 14, 2014

Ellee Seymour asked me if I’ve tried an e-reader yet, one of those gadgets that you use to read e-books. Something like a Sony Reader, perhaps, or an Amazon Kindle.

I told Ellee that I hadn’t yet.

I do read a great deal of material on a computer screen, either a laptop or desktop, but not on a device designed only for that purpose. I sometimes read content on the iPhone, especially in planes and other public transport, but that’s pretty hard work on such a small screen.

For me, the reason’s simple: devices like Sony’s and the Kindle are terrific, they’re great and do their jobs well, but that’s not enough. I want a portable device that lets me read e-books and other content as I wish. It also needs to be a window onto a wider connected and unrestricted world where I decide what I want to do, what I want to read, in a package that lets me interact with that content in a way that I don’t have to squint to see anything. It’s got to be dead easy and a genuine pleasure to use.

It ought to be affordable, too, although I might be willing to pay a premium for an elegance of form and function from a trusted name and/or a device that really breaks new ground (as the iPhone and Apple’s App Store did.). And the package must have enough oomph to do things in a trice, more or less.

Sounds rather like any contemporary laptop computer you can think of, doesn’t it?

So that’s the logical reason taken care of. Let’s look at my emotional reason: basically, there isn’t a device I’ve seen yet that makes me think I absolutely, simply, definitely have got to have one, that I’d do literally anything to acquire one.

Then I read Impact of “iSlate” Could Rival iPhone in the New York Times yesterday which beautifully captures that emotional reason:

[…] Many people like their e-readers (not least because they save them from having to haul around books, newspapers and magazines) but I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves them. That’s the key. If a really great e-reader appeared, the market would explode. The e-reader is waiting for a killer product, just as the MP3 player was before Apple’s iPod. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, it made such a sexy one that many more people wanted to buy it. That’s what it is promising to do again.

The desirability in the promise of “more.” That says it perfectly.

Will Apple’s rumoured new device be called “iSlate”? Will it look even remotely like the image you see above that AppleInsider published last July? Will it have any major focus on e-books?

Who knows. Nobody for sure outside some at Apple. Expect news at Apple’s special event on January 26. Probably.

Meanwhile, it’s fun to speculate. Think about this as well:

  • Publishers Struggle with Strategies on When to Release Their E-Books (Daily Finance). For all their sound and fury, e-book sales accounted for no more than 4% of all book sales in 2009. That figure will certainly rise in 2010. With all manner of e-readers on the market (or about to hit), the boom of reading-related smartphone apps, and Apple appearing to prepare a tablet device (rumored name: iSlate) for its debut on January 26, e-book sales may hit $500 million in the next 12 months, Forrester Research projects. […]
  • Amazon e-book sales overtake print for first time (The Guardian). Spare a thought for the humble hardback this Christmas. It seems the traditional giftwrapped tome is being trumped by downloads, after Amazon customers bought more e-books than printed books for the first time on Christmas Day. As people rushed to fill their freshly unwrapped e-readers – one of the top-selling gadgets this festive season – the online retailer said sales at its electronic book store quickly overtook orders for physical books. Its own e-reader, the Kindle, is now the most popular gift in Amazon’s history. []

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Danny Whatmough

    Spot on re. the emotional aspect around buying a gadget. I read by first book over Christmas on the iPhone and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. A bigger screen would be an advantage though…

    • neville

      That’s the thing, Danny – needs a bigger screen. So it’s not the right device for that particular need. That’s where Sony Reader, Kindle, etc, currently excel.

      If Apple do come out with something that takes things up a level or two versus what’s on the market currently, they stand a chance of exploding the e-book market as the NYT piece argues.

      Can’t wait to see what happens!

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