Currently Browsing: Publishing

Publiyou: Publishing for the iPad as simple as 1-2-3

Publiyou: Publishing for the iPad as simple as 1-2-3
Seqoy, a small company with headquarters in both São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina is bringing to market a publishing platform that promises to make the process a snap. The platform called publiyou sports a minimalist interface on the iPad and includes social features such as sharing and commenting on your favorite stories. Through the  publiyou Website users can create their accounts, upload and manage their published content, manage statistics, payments, etc. The site will also be the main window for promoting the available content.  Users submit the content for publication in PDF format, which just begs the question of how advertisement in the publications will be handled.  The preview of iAd recently shown by Steve Jobs has left many people with a taste for just how interactive an ad might come to be on the iPhone and the iPad.  Many people might not be willing to settle for a less interactive alternative. The first pictures of the reader application for the iPad are quite impressive, though it is not possible to evaluate from them the level of interactivity and ease of use when actually reading a publication.  Seqoy will be entering in direct competition with Zinio an established player in this market with dozens of publications already available. Differently from Zinio, Seqoy seems to be positioning itself as a completely self service platform, not to different from Apple’s App Store, where the publisher creates the content, publishes and manages its life cycle, all through the publiyou website. Though financial details on how the service will work are not yet available, this positioning might make publiyou specially interesting for smaller publications which don’t have enough in-house resources to produce the sort of custom and highly interactive application we have seen presented by Wired, for example. Entering this market must surely be an uphill battle, but this certainly seems like a good moment for such an initiative. *Images:...
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The story on the iPad and piracy: Rubbish!

The story on the iPad and piracy: Rubbish!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read countless articles and posts with the most outlandish comments about the iPad, but few caught my attention more than a short post I read today about the iPad making it easier to pirate comic books because it has a screen grabbing feature. It makes it piracy so easy because you only need to push two buttons to capture whatever is on the screen.  Hello?!  Anyone in there?! Last time I checked we lived in 2010.  I have an incredibly cheap HP integrated printer/scanner, in fact much cheaper than an iPad, and incredibly enough it also has a couple of buttons on it.  If I place a paper magazine on the scanner it makes a full color copy of it, with the press of a button.I’m astounded!   Incredible! Printers must enable comic book piracy! Perhaps the fellow that wrote the post never used a computer with Windows and a Print Screen key on the keyboard. I think that on interesting point the people that write this kind of baseless stories miss is that if you search for them, you will be able to find any number of books available on the Internet that were never published in electronic form in the first place.  The combination of inexpensive scanners and powerful OCR software has made the copying of books quite easy.  Does anyone think that a comic book that doesn’t even require an OCR software to begin with really needs the help of an iPad to get copied? One thing is sure, the iPad is having a profound impact on the discussion of all things publishable: newspapers, magazines, books and comics.  Another article I read, this one better much considered than the first one I mentioned, asked the question of whether the iPad would save comics, destroy comic book shops or increase comic book piracy.  There can’t be a direct answer to the that question, because it isn’t really up to the iPad, but to publishers. Will publishers offer comic books at reasonable prices or will they try to squeeze a little bit extra from early adopters of the iPads, after all they could afford an iPad…   That question is actually at the heart of it all.  The iPad isn’t going to save anything in itself.  With the new mode of interaction if it is taking mainstream, size and battery life it enables new uses for what is essentially a portable computer. That multi-touch devices are the way of the future is certain. That in the future all books, comic books and other printed publications are going to go the way of the Dodo and be replaced by electronic versions, there can be no doubt for anyone that is honest with him/herself.  So… Comic book publishers that start exploring ways to adapt to the new format are more likely to survive than those that don’t.  Piracy doesn’t really need the iPad as a facilitator, as my printer/scanner demonstrated. As for comic book stores, their days are numbered just as are those of regular bookshops. Oh, they might not all close tomorrow, but their number will continue to dwindle until all that is left are a few highly specialized collector-oriented shops. My point in all of this is that the iPad may be focusing the spotlight on this area and on several initiatives for creating digital publications, but these would have happened without it and and the path they lead to is inevitable.  All that the iPad might be doing is acting as a catalyst to speed up the process. What will eventually define if and which publishers have a future is how they treat...
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Alice in Wonderland – Amazing eBook Application

Alice in Wonderland – Amazing eBook Application
I’m sure that by now you have all seen this as it seems to have run around the world incredibly fast.  I cannot in good conscience, however, abstain from commenting on how incredible the Alice for iPad eBook application looks.  While I’m sure that there could be many different ways to translate this story into an interactive children’s eBook, this one certainly is fun and the children are going to love it.  Heck, I love it! We are bound to see a great number of fantastic new interactive books on the iPad and the beauty of this device is that there isn’t a single way of doing this right.  I’m sure that other writers, illustrators and developers will get together to create incredible works which are just as unique in their own ways. Alice for iPad  having been one of the first beautiful eBook applications has had its demo video go viral, as demonstrated by the number of people that have already watched it.  The book is available from the Apple App Store for $8.99.  There is a Lite, abridged, version of the eBook app available for free on the App Store as...
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The bookstore in a future full of iPads

The bookstore in a future full of iPads
I love reading books and I love shopping for them.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  I love browsing through a bookstore, but I rarely buy a paper book these days, always preferring the digital version if one is available.  This duality of feelings and the certainty of the inevitable demise of the paper book in the future makes me a bit sad each time I go to a good bookstore. The experience of going through the books, the quiet atmosphere and the simple joy of seeing so many colorful covers that represent books you haven’t yet read is an experience I am in no hurry to loose.  I am, however, already mourning its loss for my son’s future. In visiting a very nice bookshop with my family last month, I ended up discussing with my wife the future of bookstores as we know them, over a nice cup of coffee. She asked me if I really thought all of that would end and I had to answer that I was certain of it.  I remember asking her to look around and to think how we could justify all those dead trees at a time when our planet needs every last one of them and when an alternative such as the iPad is readily available.  To that she reminded me that the iPad was not really inexpensive, a point I had to concede. That, however, is only temporary. An iPod Touch, basic model, costs today half of what the original iPod cost when it was first introduced in 2001.  In fact, the top of the line 64GB iPod Touch costs exactly the same amount  – $399 – as the that original iPod cost, which is just $100 less than the base iPad model.  Time works inexorably against the paper book.  In a few years time we will have cheaper iPads, as well as more powerful models which will dwarf what the current generation devices can do.  The basic act of reading a book on the iPad will probably change very little, just as the iPad plays music in pretty much the same way the first iPod did, but they will be more accessible to everyone. The convenience of being able to buy books where ever you are and have them instantly available for reading beats having to go to a bookstore any day.  That goes for online purchases of paper books as well.  Why would you want to go online, order a book and then wait a couple of days for it to arrive?  All the fantasizing about how wonderful an experience it is to hold a book in your hands is merely wishful thinking on the part of those that make a living from traditional publishing and are afraid of change or those who are averse to technology in general. Try holding a book such as “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” on your lap for a while to read it and come back and tell me just how wonderful an experience it was.  Let’s get real about this, reading such a volume on an iPad (or even a Kindle for that matter) beats the hell out of holding a volume that weighs several kilos. So, now that I have gone ahead and killed the paper book for the thousandth time, how can I keep my bookstores?  Well, the idea was actually given to me by a friend while we were browsing through a huge bookstore during a trip to São Paulo, Brazil.  We were wondering through the bookshelves and he commented that he should be able to approach his eBook reader of the paper book on the shelf and have it immediately identified....
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How significant are Apple’s eBook numbers? Very!

How significant are Apple’s eBook numbers?  Very!
I have seen a lot of people question just how significant are Apple’s eBook numbers since they started coming out. The nature of the numbers is frequently questioned as they are download numbers.  That means that it includes books that are available for free and those that users have actually purchased to read on their iPads. Many seem to taking this indiscrimination as a basis on which to build a theory that Apple’s numbers are not significant, that they aren’t indicative of sales and therefore of sales potential.  Well, consider this for a moment.  I would say that anyone that went to the trouble of downloading iBooks, which doesn’t come installed in the device, is at least curious about the reading experience in the iPad. The numbers revealed by Apple do not include the free copy of Winnie the Pooh that anyone that downloads iBooks receives.  Do you notice what this means?  Anyone that was simply curious but not enough so to become a reader on the iPad could already have stopped right there.  They have seen the reader application, they have seen a color illustrated book… What else could they hope to see from downloading a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, for example? I guess we can surmise that most people downloading free eBooks from Apple’s iBookStore are, at least, a bit interested in reading them. With this in mind I would say that 600.000 downloads in less than a full week is a significant number of books and this number is likely to climb pretty fast as more and more iPads are sold. But let’s consider this a bit further.  If these readers have iPads, they might or might not be avid book buyers, but they do occasionally read books on their iPads and they are about to go on a plane trip… If your titles are not available for purchase and download to their iPads, do you think they are going to turn off the devices and try to find the airport bookstore so that they can get your book for the flight or would they be likely to simply pick another title from the iBookStore?  Perhaps even a free title, if they don’t immediately see a commercial one that draws their attention? Lets get real about this.  If I have a fully charged iPad and I’m about about to go into a long flight, I’ll stock up on books and/or movies to read and watch on the device.  Most people will probably do the same.  The iPad is lighter to carry, takes up less space and can provide several different types of entertainment in addition to reading books.  With its WiFi turned off for the flight it will probably yield some 11 to 12 hours as it seems that even watching movies with the radio on all the time it can go for nearly 11 hours. If your titles are not available for reading on the iPad (be it through iBooks, Kindle, Stanza, eReader, Kobo or some other application) many of these readers will be as good as lost to you as potential...
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iBooks spreads to the iPhone and iPod Touch

iBooks spreads to the iPhone and iPod Touch
Yesterday, when Apple previewed some of the features for the next version of iPhone OS, the operating system that powers the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad, one of the highlights was the fact that the smaller devices would be getting their own version of iBooks.  While not earthshaking news from the  perspective of device capability, as there were already several eBook readers available on these devices, this move opens up more possibilities for users who purchase books sold with Apple’s DRM. As Apple intends to synch bookmarks and latest read positions wirelessly between devices this new application can prove to be quite interesting to users as you will be use the larger iPad at home, go out to do some shopping and pickup where you left off while in line to pay for your groceries.  Once you get home you can synch back the positions to the iPad and continue reading on the larger display of the iPad. This sort of functionality was already available to Kindle users that use the Kindle for iPhone application in conjunction with their devices and it is interesting to see that Apple isn’t wasting time in bringing its own eBooks platform to the same level that Amazon had reached instead o resting on the fact that they offer color illustrations which the Kindle doesn’t.  This is specially important as Amazon is not taking the iPad assault laying down and is instead trying to make the best of it by offering an enhanced Kindle application that does allow users to see full color illustrations in Kindle books that have them. The interface for the iBooks application for the iPhone and iPod Touch is essentially identical to what you get on the iPad, just smaller.   As you enter the application you see the same bookshelf holding your book collection and once you go into a book it also looks exactly the same as on the iPad.  The reading interface puts iBooks in the same league as Stanza, the best iPhone eBook reader, but I’m not so sure about the library view. While I’m not one of those people that criticize the use of real world metaphors in application interfaces, I have to say that I’m doubtful of the bookshelf interface being able to handle larger libraries.  I currently have about 50 eBooks on my iPod and that is just a small portion of my personal library. I’m very curious to see how I’ll be able to navigate and find what I want in the iBooks library interface. It seems like the eBook reader war is just about to...
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USAToday for the iPad gets good reviews

USAToday for the iPad gets good reviews
USAToday is getting mostly very good comments from users on the iTunes store.  The comments available as of this writing were mostly favorable giving the application a four star rating average which seems to be a huge contrast to the one and a half  star average The Wall Street Journal was getting when I wrote about it, yesterday. Users describe the application as being easy to use and a great experience.  The demo video that is available on USAToday’s website shows an application that seems simple to use, interactive and which makes appropriate usage of colors to highlight types of content.  From the demo it seems that USAToday managed to add interactivity and provide an agreeable newspaper like experience which seems modern without abusing of the possibilities offered by the iPad. I will reserve final judgement on these news applications for when I’m able to try them out in person, but I find the comments being posted by the first users of these applications to be highly interesting as they show us a bit of their expectations and gives as a feel for how close or far from the mark an application might be.  My first impression is that USAToday comes a lot closer to meeting expectations than either the WSJ or The New York Times.  While NYT has a three star average rating its application seems more timid and conservative than what you see in USAToday. As we are just a few days away from when these applications were released we will have to wait a bit to see how they and the subscription offerings that will work with them will work out.  USAToday is still free for now, and this might be playing an important role in getting it good user evaluations.  Right now, however, it would seem that USAToday is carrying the field in the battle for the user’s attention as it currently holds the 4th place within the top 10 Free applications with the NYT in 9th and WSJ in 10th. (Free application is a relative expression, in this situation, as an application might be free to download but charge for content it displays.) *Images: iTunes App...
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The Wall Street Journal for iPad gets bad reviews

The Wall Street Journal for iPad gets bad reviews
Reading all sorts of things on the iPad is one of my major uses for the iPad.  While I already read books on the iPod and magazines on my notebook, I’m extremely keen on moving both activities to the iPad. Given this basic interest, it is no wonder that I went over to the AppStore on Sunday to have a look at the first reviews for the newspaper offerings for the iPad. At a first glance The Wall Street Journal’s application seemed to present a better looking version of the printed paper than, for example, the Editor’s Choice application from the The New York Times. This however, seems to be a misleading perception as most of the reviews for WSJ were terrible while the ones for the NYT were pretty good.  There are two major factors involved here: pricing and application quality. Starting with the later, it would seem that the WSJ tried to do too much in too little time.  There are many complaints that the application is unresponsive during user interaction.  This would suggest that they made an effort to build their application into a complete finished product within the space of the two months between the iPad’s announcement and its actual release.  While this might be a reasonable goal for specialized software houses, it would seem not to be a viable goal when one is talking about redefining how printed newspapers are presented to the public. The approach taken by the NYT seems to have been better thought out as they have brought out an Editor’s Choice application that offers access to a limited set of articles and which will probably serve as a testing ground for a future paid version with access to much more content.  But this already starts to take us into the second major factor in the bad reviews for the WSJ: pricing. Someone at the WSJ must have been seriously delusional when they thought that charging more for the iPad edition than for the combined paper + online subscription would be a good idea.  Let’s face it, this couldn’t be a good idea for any one with a half functional brain.  There is such a thing as customer value perception and it doesn’t seem that the WSJ’s application comes remotely close to having such an impact on customers for them to perceive them as being more valuable then having the paper version and access to the online news.  Quite the contrary, instead of comparing the prices for print against digital users are forcefully directed to comparing the cost of printed+online which raises the bar on content and availability while being underwhelmed  with a half tested and irresponsive application. Of course it might be thought that being accessible from the iPad from day one is good marketing for the company and the paper, but the huge number of bad reviews which leave the WSJ app with a one and a half star in the App Store would argue against releasing such an application without adequate testing.  If they couldn’t get devices from Apple for testing before April 3rd, then they should have released the application some days later and have gotten it to at least work well, regardless of it being in the best format possible. As it stands the WSJ application seems to be leaving users with the impression of a low quality application which is married to an expensive subscription ($17.29 per month).  Not the best combination to make a good first impression on readers. For further discussion on how newspapers might work on the iPad, check out “A look at how newspapers should tackle the iPad“. *Images: iTunes App...
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Marvel eComics coming to an iPad in your hands

Marvel eComics coming to an iPad in your hands
Marvel has announced that it will be taking its titles to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Not only will new titles be available but also titles from their back catalog which might actually help entice new readers to older franchises.  One of the reasons I’ve found reading comics on my iPod interesting was that I was able to buy a 3 or 4 issue comic series all at once.  This guaranteed that I would be able to read the story from beginning to end, regardless of remembering to go by a newsstand on the right days to pick up the next issue. While I haven’t been a comic book reader for many years, I have read three such series set in the Star Wards universe on my iPod.  The idea of having another look at comics on iPad seems oddly intriguing, specially if I am able to get 1st numbers of established series, some of which might be older than I am. The iPad is the first device where eComics really make sense.  The screen size will allow the reader to see full pages, instead of individual images, and the full color experience should surpass what you get in the real comic books.  How long until other publishers follow the trail Marvel is traveling...
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The iPad arrives and Amazon may make a lot of money

The iPad arrives and Amazon may make a lot of money
In the past I’ve written about how Amazon stands to make a lot of money with the arrival of the iPad.  Back then I was referring to the sales of accessories and iPads, mostly.  Books were in there too, but they weren’t foremost in my mind back then.  Since then I’ve given the Kindle vs. iPad discussion a lot of thought. On a first look there shouldn’t be anything left to discuss.  Next to an iPad the Kindle looks like a very old and very backward way of looking at content.  The iPad is clearly a superior device. End of discussion. Not really.  Oh, of course the iPad is a superior device, but while that might mean lower (if not vanishingly small) number of Kindle device sales, it might not mean  lower numbers in terms of content sales. The Kindle application that offers specific support to the iPad is already available on the App Store and as soon as they take their new iPads home tomorrow, Amazon customers will be able to install the application and start enjoying their books in the new device.  If you consider the increased possibilities of the iPad’s full color display, Amazon might be looking at higher sales over the coming months, instead of lower. There are some interesting issues to consider in this story.  First, while Apple has prominently displayed iBooks and the iBook Store in their marketing of the iPad, the store itself will only be selling to US customers until further notice.  The device on the other hand, will be available through out most of western Europe and in Australia by the end of the month. While you may think that those avid readers will be content to browse free book offerings, I sincerely doubt it. Amazon is already selling internationally and its Kindle application will be available immediately which will offer it a significant time advantage to try to penetrate these markets as much as possible before Apple is able to start offering book sales to other countries. The fact that Amazon spent the past couple of years acquiring registered users for its eBook publishing and consumption platform puts it in a decidedly favorable position as a large number of users that have already purchased content from Amazon will have very good reason to download the Kindle App and to start using it regularly on their iPads.  Once that is done it should a much simpler proposition to focus on the content and work on retaining that customer for the Kindle platform, instead of for the Kindle...
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Are publishers running scared? They should be!

Are publishers running scared?  They should be!
I just read an article stating that publishers are running scared because of Apple.  Well, if they are that might be good for them.  Not necessarily because of Apple, though I’m quite sure the iPad will act as a powerful catalyst in a reaction that has been brewing for a long time.  The main question that publishers should be asking themselves now is: “What do authors need me for?” And that is a very good question! Traditionally publishers provide several services an author couldn’t really replace with anything else except another publisher.  That was pretty such seen as the natural order of things by publishers and authors alike.  Publishers provide revision and editing of the authors original manuscripts helping the author achieve a better finished product, they provide printing, distribution and marketing giving author a reach they could not hope to achieve otherwise. Are those services still relevant?  In today’s world an author can directly hire revision and editing services and he can certainly do direct marketing through social networks and services such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, etc.   Thanks to services such as Lulu and CreateSpace they can have their books printed on demand without the cost of creating and stocking large printing runs.  With the help of companies such as SmashWords they can have their books available as eBooks in just about any conceivable format and now thanks to Apple and Amazon they have access to distribution. So… what are publishers going to be doing now to earn their share of the revenue from books? I’ll grant publishers some additional time to live due to the fact that the transition to all digital books is still going to take some years to complete and due to the fact that some writers will not want to due the marketing themselves.  But believe me, that is a greatly diminished pool of readers  and of talent we’re talking about, 5 years from now.  As companies move to occupy the space of offering these services to authors so that they can publish their books without fuss, the traditional publishers become obsolete.  No amount of screaming and kicking at Apple for their pricing policy will change this or will keep the wheels of time from turning. Until recently a publisher’s participation in the book publishing business was a given.  That hasn’t been the case for a while but until now authors that did self publishing were viewed as those that couldn’t get a deal with a real publisher.  Well, this is changing.  I, personally, am a traditionally published author but I have friends however, that have made a lot of money from books that exist in a purely digital form. They did all the work themselves and they didn’t even go to the trouble of using a company such as SmashWords to make their books available in myriad formats or get Amazon to list them.  They sold the books through websites that cater to the subject matter of their books, and they sold thousands of copies within months at $19.95.  Notice that this price is much higher than the price of a major publisher’s bestseller for the Kindle or from what is expected for the same bestseller at Apple. It is interesting to note that from what SmashWords has made available to their authors about pricing policy on Apple’s iBookStore, if  your book only exists in digital form you can set whatever price you choose as there is no printed version for comparison.  This means that books that are digital only can cost more than those that have a printed version. As increasingly reading books, magazines and newspapers in digital form...
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A glimpse at the iBookStore

A glimpse at the iBookStore
The iBookStore is only about a week away of being available to those that have pre-ordered an iPad or that are fortunate enough to be able to get into a store and buy one on April 3rd, however, there are some people that just can’t seem to wait.  One of these people is Mike Cane and he somehow got access to the iBookStore, without an iPad. It seems the store is not yet fully functional, but he snapped some pictures, such as the one in the post, which gives us a better idea of what it will look like, which is not surprisingly a lot like iTunes.  For more screen shots and his personal comments read his original...
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Why do some publishers insist in burying their heads?

Why do some publishers insist in burying their heads?
It seems that Random House thinks that by not entering in agreement with Apple to have its books available through the iBookStore that it will gain something, for the company or for its authors.  I really would like to know what, though.  It seems that some people have more trouble then others in facing reality.  Some seem to have more difficulty than just about everyone else. The iPad isn’t going to go magically away.  It will be on sale within the space of days, now.  There are already lots of readers who are extremely annoyed with how publishers delay the release of digital versions of books until a paperback version is released.  Is there any need to get more people annoyed?  Does anyone intend to sell books in the future?  Apparently Random House’s major competitors (all of which have signed up with Apple already) do. This genie isn’t going to go back into the bottle.  Its either embrace change and look for ways to make the best of it, or fade away (slowly at first, perhaps) inevitably. Let’s consider this… I’ve published a decent number of books in the past and I believe I can put my self in the shoes of other authors.  If I were an author that had published with Random House and I knew that they weren’t going to publish my book digitally, I would be calling up one of those other major publishers for my next book. As a reader I can’t be bothered to buy paper books for quite some time and I’m looking forward to moving most of my reading to an iPad.  While I recognize that most readers haven’t run out of space to store books at home, I submit that those of us that have might be good customers. Another important point to consider are the kids that are just now becoming readers.  These kids have grown in a world of iPods, iPhones, Nintendo DSs and so on.  These kids aren’t really worried about the feel of a new book in your hand, the smell of the paper and all that gobbledygook that everyone that is scared of ebooks try to push on us. They are going to be reading on iPads. The whole of pricing makes no sense at all.  In Apple’s agency model, you set the price you want and Apple gets 30% of that value.  You want your books to be expensive, make them so. Anyone capable of imagining that consumers might prefer to buy less expensive books from other publishers if yours are highly priced should be smart enough to imagine that they aren’t going to pleased with paying a high price and then getting to carry the paper book around. I’ve come across an excellent article on this topic, by Damon Brown on BNET, not to mention several others.  Still, I could not resist the temptation to comment on it.  What do you think?  Would you sell through...
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The Wall Street Journal for the iPad: $17.99

The Wall Street Journal intends to charge a monthly subscription of $17.99 for the iPad version of the newspaper.  It seems that both the WSJ and the New York Times are not having too much trouble in finding advertisers for their iPad editions.  As indicated in a post by Damon Kiessow earlier this morning, companies such as FedEx, Toyota and Unilever seem to be interested in advertising on iPad editions of newspapers and magazines. That shouldn’t really be surprising considering that most people who will buy an iPad initially are already computer users looking for a more convenient way to access certain types of information and as a survey showed recently a great number of them are interested in using the device for reading.   In the long run the demographics will change as more kids get their hands on iPads, but the overall market of readers using iPad isn’t going to be shrinking in the foreseeable future. The prices for two other publications were revealed as well: Men’s Health and Esquire.  Men’s Health will be available at $4.99 and Esquire will go for $2.99.  Men’s Health is retaining its regular price while Esquire is taking the approach of having a lower digital price, which makes more...
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iPad iBooks pricing revealed – Same as on Amazon

A post by Alexander Vaughn on appAdvise has a real “screen shot” of the iBooks book store showing the prices of several books. He claims to have been shown the store by someone with access and to have noted that 27 of 32 books in the New York Times Bestsellers list have the same price as those of Amazon’s Kindle editions, including all the top ten books. For the full story and the picture, go directly to appAdvice.
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