Top Tech Trends – Ebook Readers and the iPad

I was a panelist at PLA 2010’s Top Tech Trends session, and talked about ebook readers and the ipad as a top tech trend to watch in 2010. Here’s my outline for the session:

Ebook Readers and the iPad:

  • ebooks have been around wince 1971! that’s when the gutenberg project started!
  • 1998 – first ebook readers appeared

how many different models are there?

  • at least 20 different manufacturers

over 2 million free ebooks

  • 15 different file formats!
  • kindle, txt, epub, html, pdf, etc
  • epub
    • open free format – not proprietary
    • css, xml styling
    • default standard, not everyone (ie., kindle) uses it

Operating Systems on ebook readers:

  • linux
  • android
  • windows mobile/win ce
  • iphone OS

size

  • most are 6-8 inches or so
  • mobile version – iphone is an ebook reader, other phones

e-ink or LCD

  • e-ink – imitates the look and ease of readability of print while consuming little power

memory

  • most are in gigabytes
  • holds hundreds of books

connectivity

  • wifi
  • cellular networks
  • price – 150 to 750
still sorta like the 90s with cell phone or PDAs

why did I pick this for a top tech trend when they’ve been around for so long?
Apple likes to change things
  • Mac – changed the computer industry – mouse and GUI were pretty obscure untilt hat first mac came along in 1984
  • ipod – changed the music industry – pricing, formats, size, etc., mp3 players
  • iphone – changed the cell phone industry
    • touch screen
    • more than just a cell phone – games, internet, browsers, ipod, movies, calendar, email, twitter, facebook, etc, etc, etc
    • many copycats

iPad will do the same thingĀ  – but to what industry?

  • gaming and movies
  • will probably change the ebook industry
    • better ebook reader
    • more like a book – flip the pages by touch
    • color
    • great screen
    • turn the thing to flip the screen
    • accessibility built in
    • and 5 of the 6 largest publishers are already on-board.

why?

  • money – they’ve seen itunes and the app store and want in

What might we have by end of 2010?

  • The iPad ships on April 3
  • iPad will be on version 2-3 by the end of 2010
  • will have made millions of publishers millions of dollars, Apple even more
  • price will have probably dropped
  • more publishers will be using the epub format (and wanting into itunes store)
  • copycats will start to appear

Issues for libraries to consider:

our patrons will start buying iPads soon.

  • does it work with Overdrive?
  • does it work with our catalogs?
  • can patrons plug them into your PCs?

staff issues

  • can your staff use them to help patrons who own one?

library stuff

  • can patrons check them out?
  • can your library buy them for patrons to use/check out?
  • battery life -do you charge the battery before handing them out to patrons? Do you have a place for multiple devices to be charged behind the circ desk (or wherever you might keep them)?

bigger issues

  • content licensing and DRM

iPad – a Game Changer?

I don’t attempt to predict stuff very often, but I think this one’s safe – I think Apple’s new iPad is most definitely a game changer.

Why? Because it combines so many things into one handy, easy-to-use device. Just watching the video about the iPad and poking around on the website a bit, you find out all that the iPad will supposedly do, including:

  • web browsing
  • email
  • photo viewing
  • watch videos (even YouTube videos)
  • listen to music (it has iTunes built in)
  • buy and read ebooks
  • a cool map
  • note taking
  • a calendar
  • Contacts list
  • iWork (Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office) is rebuilt for the iPad, so you have word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software
  • The App Store works here, too, which opens up 140,000 apps that all do different things

And of course, it’s multi-touch. So instead of having to use a mouse or keyboard shortcuts to operate the thing … you just touch the screen. I’m just amazed that Apple seemingly rolled up a Microsoft Surface, a tablet PC, a video player, a netbook, an iPod, and an ebook reader, and came out with something light, cool, and truly unique. Except maybe the name – sorry Apple, but the iPad is a silly name.

Apple could turn this thing into a student’s best friend. Instead of carrying a heavy backpack around, students could use the iPad to carry all their textbooks (assuming Apple partners with textbook companies), any multimedia they need to watch, their word processor to write papers (or they could just use Google Docs via a wifi connection), multiple ways to take notes, communicate to classmates and teachers via email/IM/Facebook/Skype/etc. And still have their favorite photos, their grand music collection, and a couple of fun games with them, too.

How about for libraries? Think Reference Desk and roving reference here. It’s the same price as a netbook laptop. But probably easier to carry around, easier to show stuff to people, easier to make the text larger for people who need larger text (you just touch and stretch the screen with your fingers to make the text larger – just like an iPhone). And has a 178 degree viewing angle, so it would work well to show stuff to patrons.

Game changer? I think so … or maybe I’m just gushing at the cool new toy. What do you think?