Do Apple (and Penguin) Not Like Words?

I know, I know, that heading was a bit on the sensational side.

But, yannow, so is Penguin CEO, John Makinson, telling the world that ‘The definition of the book is up for grabs‘. And what did he back that rather bold statement up with? Well, this video (I found it courtesy of these fine folk), showing what cool stuff Penguin can put on the iPad.

Now, don’t get me wrong. What it shows IS pretty cool. Really it is.


It seemed to me to look more like a cross between one of those old CDroms and a website.

Which is all well and good and snazzy.

But (again)

we’re talking about books. iBooks and eBooks and all that. And what do books have that the above demonstration has kind of neglected?

You got it, folks. WORDS.

Now, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m not the iPad’s biggest fan, so this may well be biased. But it’s my blog so I can be! I can also tell you why I’m a little bit worried.

Apple’s iBooks store and the iPad are supposed to be part of the next step in the evolution of reading (and I’m not opposed to change, I should say) but what they seem to be doing is ignoring the two most important parts of reading: words and they way they are read. They’ve chosen a device which doesn’t use the brilliant e-ink that every other electronic reader uses, instead it seems that they’re willing to replace words with graphics. Now that’s great for textbooks and educational things and the like. But what about all the other kinds of books? The ones that aren’t illustrated. The ones that don’t need to be. The ones whose words do the talking? I hope Mr Makinson isn’t hoping what he’s shown in the above video is what the definition of what the book will be, because that does writers and readers a a huge discredit. Books, or the majority of them, should be about their words.

Any thoughts? Am I wrong? Overreacting?

9 Comments on “Do Apple (and Penguin) Not Like Words?

  1.  by  Steph

    You make me chuckle Nik… Very lovely video but I suggest we propose they make a version of War and Peace and see how far they get and how fast too.

  2.  by  Nik Perring

    Always happy to provide an excuse for a chuckle! And ha! Yes! War and Peace – that's the test, isn't it?

  3.  by  Crystal Jigsaw

    All this new technology makes me laugh; I wonder why we need half of it. Are we just trying to keep up with another country who is far more advanced? Or do the geeks out there genuinely want to be bombarded with technology coming out of their ears.CJ xx

  4.  by  Nik Perring

    Hiya CJI'm not against technology (or geeks); I do genuinely believe eReaders and their like will be a good thing. This new technology does bring with it new opportunities for writers and readers (I've just been talking to my publisher and their plans for the eBook version of my collection sounds utterly wonderful). What narks me is that Apple don't seem to want to do that; with them it seems to be more about being snazzy and not about doing what's best for the book or the consumer. In my opinion!N X

  5.  by  Jessica Maybury

    I think that a lot of the technology that's been coming out is just coming out for the sake of mechanical innovation – it's not really bringing us anywhere. Down with the ipad I say!

  6.  by  SueG

    I think this industry is stumbling around, pulling things out of its collective ass. Everything's up for grabs and it will probably take some time before it all gets sorted. But this is a good point. It really must all be about words, mustn't it? And all we wordsmiths can do is keep putting one word in front of the other and hope for the best. Oh, and complain as often as possible, too! That's what keeps us going, after all.

  7.  by  Nik Perring

    That's exactly it, Sue. What would worry me would be if publishers like Penguin were putting the (undeniable) talents of programmers ahead of the talents of writers…

  8.  by  voip news

    Yes, Apple's iBooks store and the iPad are supposed to be part of the next step in the evolution.

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