Skip to Content

iPad debuts to mixed reviews

12 April 2010

'It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world - it's going to be a game changer', said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. 'iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad'.

On the face of it the figures do look good: over 300,000 iPads sold on the first day, along with 25,000 e-books and a million apps. But critics have been fast to come up with adverse comments on the iPad, launched to great fanfare in the US only last week.

It's heavier than the 10.2 ounce Kindle at 1.5 pounds and has been criticised for its glare-prone display, especially in full sunlight. But the screen has also been described as 'stunning' in low light and out of the sun it's apparently easy on the eyes.

Daily Finance pointed out that these figures are for downloads, not sales, and most of them would have been free books or sample chapters. Apple is going to have to work hard to compete with Amazon, as they currently only have 60,000 books available for download and not all publishers have signed up with them. But as as Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said: 'This match is far from over and even if Amazon takes Round 2, there's a lot of fight left in all these fighters. And that's just the way it's supposed to be.'

In the meantime the battle which is raging in publishing is to do with the so-called 'agency' model of e-book sales. Publishers look like they're winning that one and Amazon has been forced to step down, but there's still a great deal of concern amongst publishers about low e-book prices, which undercut hardback book prices. The latest tactic is to delay the e-book, but it's not clear if this is going to work in denying something to a market which has always expected instant gratification. It's a bit like paperback editions in fact, and on the whole those are still brought out some time after the hardback, for exactly the same reason.

In the meantime the size of the e-book development is quite stunning - figures from 2009 show that US e-book sales overtook audiobook sales and were up 176.6% up on 2008. So even if you think you don't want to use a e-book, they are here to come and will hugely affect the publishing industry, and your chances of getting published, for years to come.