Whatever you think about Apple and its products, it’s hard to deny that their marketing machine does an excellent job projecting the company as both a technological leader and cultural trend-setter. The latest gizmo to get the full Apple-hype treatment is the iPad, which has been variously described as everything from the greatest invention since sliced bread to the greatest invention of all time.
As a piece of technology, I don’t have an opinion about the iPad. It lies outside my interests, and there’s no scenario in which I see myself needing one or buying one.
What’s most interesting to me about the iPad is how the book business has both embraced and distanced itself from the device, as if it’s critical to publishing’s aims. To the extent that the iPad creates pretty portable pictures, I can see how that might serve the aims of an art book, but when it comes to text I see no inherent advantage in the iPad over any other e-reading device.
More to the point, as a content creator I see the iPad as essentially meaningless. The works I create are almost completely described by text (no images, little formatting), and my goal for that content is to make it device independent. Because the ePub and PDF file formats already allow me to do that, the existence or non-existence of the iPad (and any other similar device) is a non-issue for me.
I’m not waiting for the iPad to make my work viable, portable, deliverable or readable. If it sells like hotcakes, great. If it doesn’t, great. Apple’s market share is nothing I care about, and the same goes for Amazon, Sony, and anybody else who intends to enter the e-reader marketplace. I’m taking my content directly to readers one way or the other, and nobody’s going to get in the way of that. Anyone who tries to do so by controlling the technology will be undermined by the competition. Anyone who tries to do so by controlling the market will be side-stepped and cut down by the internet.
— Mark Barrett