Will The iPad iBooks Kill The Ebook Reader?

by Ebook Doctor on April 1, 2010


In typical Apple fashion, the iPad has generated a huge amount of interest. Steve Jobs has described the device as “magical”, “extraordinary” and sees the device as redefining the personal computer.

This tablet type device launches on the 3rd of April in the US, and will hit the UK at the end of April. Featuring a glossy 9.7” LED, touch screen, the device which resembles a large Iphone will support email, web browsing, all the main features (except the phone bit) of the Iphone as well as an eBook reader built in.

But is it an eBook reader killer?

Lets first look at what makes eBook readers so popular:

  • The ability to carry a near unlimited amount of books around
  • The sharp E-Ink screen, which reads like a real book (so you don’t get eye fatigue and you can read under any environment)
  • The long battery life (most eBook readers can get over 2 weeks of use)
  • The ability to purchase books from the device (available on the Kindle, Nook, Bebook Neo for example)
  • The ability to load up any pdf, pre purchased eBook, or document into the device for reading later
  • The compact form factor
  • Varying price points (you can pick up an ebook reader for as little as $100, and as much as $500)

Add to these the fact that you can use your eBook reader as a note taking device, you can annotate text, and on some readers actually listen to music or audio books on the go.


How does the iPad compare?

  • The iPad has a huge memory capacity (starting at 16GB)
  • The iPad features a high resolution glossy colour screen, but this is the same as what you will find on most laptops. Which means you won’t be able to read as comfortably as on an E-Ink device (think about it as reading text from a laptop screen)
  • The iPad has 10 hours of battery life which is great, but simply cannot compare to 2+ weeks of use on standard ebook readers. If you travel a lot this will be a huge issue.
  • The iPad comes with an improved Itunes which will include an ebook store. Although you won’t get as many ebooks as say on Amazon or Borders, you will be able to purchase eBooks on the go.
  • You can import any unlocked (non DRM) epub ebooks into your iPad through Itunes but you can’t read your ibooks from any other device then the iPad.
  • The device will be bigger than most eBook readers, but definitely compact: (height: 9.56-inches, width: 7.47-inches, depth: 0.5-inches, weight: 1.5 pounds (1.6 for the 3G model).)
  • Price wise, the iPad will start at $499, which is much more expensive than most ebook readers out there, but in line witht the pricing of the Kindle DX.

The iPad also innovates by providing interactive magazine content and tailored news content which mixes text and multimedia.

The verdict?

So is the iPad the next eBook reader? We don’t think so yet, but its definitely going to be a key player, and Amazon definitely acknowledges that by releasing a Kindle App for the iPad.

If you are a keen book reader, and you like having your books with you when travelling there is no better device than an E-Ink eBook reader. You won’t get eye fatigue, you will be able to read indoors and outdoors and you will be able to read for weeks without having to recharge the device.

But the iPad will change the landscape of eBook readers.

The start of a revolution?

So the iPad isn’t yet an EBook Reader Killer, but it is an impressive device which will force many eBook reader companies to push more innovative features.

What we will start to see in the next 3 to 12 months is:

  • The introduction of colour E-Ink screens
  • Faster refresh rates on E-ink screens
  • Downloadable & purchasable eBooks available from the eBook reader as standard
  • More magazine content becoming available for eBook readers
  • More news based content becoming available for eBook readers
  • Larger screens (more 8”+ devices to compete with the Ipad)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vivek 04.05.10 at 10:13 am

Interesting article, thanks.

Comparing a 10-hour battery life to a 2-week recharge cycle is not quite the same thing. If I read every night for 20-30 minutes before I go to bed (reasonable reading for someone who has loads of other things to do) and I use my iPad for nothing else, then its charge too will last me for close to a couple of weeks.

Of course, the point of the iPad is that you will end up doing lots more than just reading books on it, so your recharge cycle will probably be daily, which is not such a big deal.

But its ability to handle multiple needs is exactly what makes it more attractive than a dedicated eBook reader. One less whizmo to lug around.

BTW, I currently read on both my laptop and my iPhone and there’s no eyestrain if you turn down the brightness and/or use a white text on black display layout (which most eReader software allows you to do).

2 karla peijs 04.23.10 at 5:01 pm

ik heb een sony e-reader. Sommige boeken zitten ineens achter een soort beveiliging (“beveiligde pagina”). Hoe dat weer uit te schakelen?

3 reading device 07.29.10 at 2:08 pm

There many reading device at the moment on the market. they have many different in the feature. If you only need to read ebook just like real book i think kindle is still the best one

4 peter 07.30.10 at 5:19 pm

Great news for cheapskates! Many public libraries allow you to borrow ebooks online. Unfortunately both the Kindle and iPad do not read DRM-protected Adobe EPUB format which seems to be the most popular format for libraries. Both Amazon and Apple are in the business of selling books online and libraries take away their business so this incompatibility is likely to continue.
If you are interested in free books, you need to look at other manufacturers.

5 Titus Powell 08.30.10 at 11:34 pm

iBooks and the iPad are here to stay!

Thanks to everyone who is helping my novel ‘The Dare Ring’ storm up the ‘Mysteries & Thrillers’ charts in Apple’s iBookstore. If you have the iBooks app, please check it out!

Currently #1 Featured thriller in the UK!

6 RazorX 10.29.10 at 2:53 am

Buyer Beware: The Borders eReader apps. don’t come with images and are unfortunately text only ebooks.

7 realist 04.11.11 at 2:49 pm

Why is it that everyone is looking for the dievice that will replace completely the other. Will the Ipad make my toast in the morning. Probably not and never will can it fill in as an ebook reader well yeah as good as a book, no. But If I use it enough It will warm my toast. Will the Kindle replace the book, No the book is complete and only lacking one thing to be used, the reader. Is the kindle a great device, yep, planning on buying one soon, but questioning the whole colour issue. I don’t need it for movies. I got a laptop, and itouch for that I want to read though.
And nothing works as good. I am excited by digital books because maybe publishers will get back to real bindings.

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