I got my shiny new iPad a few weeks ago and one of the applications on it that I thought I would try and use properly in the next few weeks is iBooks. It allows you to purchase copies of books that you can then read in a fairly stylish interface in either portrait or landscape mode. It certainly seemed like something that could be very useful when I go away on holiday. After all I will be taking the iPad anyway so if I could take my holiday reading away with me in digital form then it would take up no space.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
I was disappointed however to discover that the book I really wanted to read on holiday this year was not available at all on iBooks. It is "Prelude to Power" by Alastair Campbell.
Another one I wanted to take away with me was "The End of the Party" by Andrew Rawnsley. I noted that I could purchase it from Amazon.co.uk for £12.50. I then looked on iBooks and discovered that I could get a digital copy for the grand total of £15.99! That's right, a digital copy with virtually non-existent physical production, shipping and distribution costs is £3.49 more expensive than a physical copy. You know, that I can then pass onto a friend when I have finished with if I wish unlike with a digital copy. Oh and that won't become useless in a few years time when the standards all change (again). Bizarre. In the end I just bought a hardback copy from Amazon, being unable to justify paying substantially more for a digital copy.
I was even more surprised to discover something else this week. I was in Tesco and noticed a new paperback from Stephen King called "Under the Dome" on special offer. I have not read any Stephen King books for years however the premise sounded quite interesting and I thought for a change I might get a copy to take away with me. I stopped short of buying it though as I felt sure that such a hugely popular author with a book that is already out in paperback would have a copy on iBooks. Not so. When I checked it is not on there. I also checked the publication date - November 2009, so that is 8 months they have had to get it on the portal.
I expect there are licensing problems with authors and publishing companies. That may well be why two of the three books I wanted are not available on iBooks. It may be that this is not Apple's fault at all and that they would really like to have them available but are being thwarted.
I also do not know the rationale behind pricing a digital copy of a book even higher than the price you pay for a paper-based copy but perhaps there is a good explanation for that too (although I very much doubt it).
But irrespective of all of this the net result is that of the three books I thought I might get for my iPad for holiday reading the total number I actually got is zero.
Something tells me that the end of paper based books is a very long way away.