The Apple iPad: A Guide for Authors

iPad-Keyboard

Chances are you’ve heard people talking about Apple’s iPad. Will it change everything for authors? Is it our doom or salvation?

You may want to check out some of the other  great reviews of the various iPad features.

What the pundits are saying about Apple’s iPad

Industry leaders have speculated about the effect the iPad will have on the publishing industry. Here is a sample:

But what does all this mean for you?

Here is my take on the iPad as a technologist, an author and a marketer.

7 Things the iPad Can Do for Authors

  1. Display Kindle books. This is a big deal because the potential audience for Kindle books just grew by half a million people in the last three weeks. Ironically, being in the Amazon Kindle Store is more important now than ever before.
  2. Allow you to write on the go. Pages allows you to edit documents. The iPad is surprisingly easy to type on and can use an external keyboard. There are several great apps for writers. Look for a roundup in the coming weeks.
  3. Blend multi-media with traditional books.The iPad gives you a bigger box in which to be creative inside. You are no longer limited to just words.
    • Prediction: vooks (which blend video and writing) will become far more popular with the advent of the iPad.
  4. Make color cheap to distribute. Up to this point if you wanted to incorporate graphics into your book you either had to deal with prohibitive costs or go black and white. No more. Now color is no more expensive than black and white.
    • Prediction: books will become far more graphical with the advent of the iPad.
  5. Make self publishing easier.Apple has made is easy for self published authors to get into the iBook store. This will likely put pressure on Amazon lower barriers as well. This is good news for self published authors.
    • Prediction: some unknown authors will come out of nowhere with innovative uses for the iPad. Will you be one of them?
  6. Keep you connected to social media on the go. For those of you who don’t have an iPhone, the 3G iPad will be a great tool for using Twitter and Facebook on the go.
    1. Prediction: The iPad 3g could replace a smart phone for many people and for a cheaper monthly cost.
  7. Make blogs more accessible & important. Before the iPad, the only places people could read blogs were in front of a laptop or squinting into a smart phone. Now blogs are just as comfortable to read as books. Apps like NetNewsWire allow iPad users to read their Google Reader feeds offline. This is good news for authors who blog and bad news for authors who don’t.

5 Things the iPad Can’t Do for Authors

  1. Raise your royalties. By making the web more available and self publishing easier, Apple is raising the supply of writing. This will create a downward pressure on prices. I doubt the iPad will boost demand enough to keep up with the boost in supply.
  2. Help you with presentations. I was excited about using the iPad from the lectern in my technology talks. My hope was that it would give me control of the presentation and show me my current slide the next slide and a timer. It fails to do all three of these things. I can edit presentations and that is about it. These are issues that may be fixed in the future but as of right now the iPad fails to help with presentations.
  3. Replace your laptop. If you are an author you probably won’t be able to ditch your laptop for an iPad. But it may keep you from having to take your laptop everywhere you go just so you can check email and work on your book.
  4. Reduce Distractions. The iPad provides one more thing to do other than write. Keep this in mind before you get too excited about this new gadget.
  5. Help your publisher stay in business. If your publishing house is struggling now, the iPad is only going to make things worse. The houses that will benefit from the iBooks market and boosted Kindle market are likely going to be the ones who have already been embracing the new trends. If your publisher has struggled to adapt so far, how will the iPad change anything?

3 Things the iPad is Changing for Authors

  1. Distribution. Think of the iPad is the iPod for books. Now think about how much the music industry has changed in the 10 years since the iPod came out. Paper is going the way of the CD. Print on Demand + Digital Distribution is becoming a more and more viable strategy for small print houses. Some publishing houses like Marcher Lord Press have been able to abandon traditional offset publishing altogether with great success.
  2. Competition. Thirty years ago authors only competed with the other books and the TV for the living room. Now they must compete with the whole internet for that coveted “couch time.” Writers must write better than ever.
  3. Pricing. A plummet in book prices is inevitable.  The big publishing houses will fight this of course but this will just create room for small houses to eat market share away from them with low cost digital books. Savvy authors will know they can make more money with a lower price.

Bottom line

You don’t need an iPad to be a successful author. But you do need to understand how the iPad is changing the publishing industry.

  • Some authors will thrive in this new environment of high competition. They will incorporate color graphics and drop prices to sell more books and make more money.
  • Other authors will wither. They will complain about the changes the iPad and its army of clones will bring to the industry. They will fight these changes to their own demise.

What do you think?

  • Do you have an iPad? Do you like it?
  • Do you plan to get an iPad? Why or why not?
  • Will the iPad help or hurt authors?
  • Do you plan to incorporate more graphics into your books now that it is cheaper and easier to do?