The Kindle: Holds up to 1,500 books, has wireless capability so you can download and begin reading a book in less than a minute wherever you are, thin and light weight. Technology that only a few weeks ago was THE Christmas gift, THE hot ticket. Amazing!
Then on Jan 28 Apple announced the iPad. It isn't even out yet (April 3 according to the commercial seen during the Academy Awards show on Sunday, March 7), but it's already made the Kindle look like a 1972 Buick, complete with clunky design, forgettable plastic, and--horrors--a non-color screen that doesn't even respond to touch.
Search for "Kindle" on Google and "iPad" comes up as one of the sponsored links at top. And, of course, there are at least half a dozen other ebook readers on or hitting the market right now, all vying for the privilege of showing you text and/or graphics.
So what do competing ebook reading devices do to the publishing world? Craig Mod has an interesting post on this. He discusses the difference between Formless and Definite content. Essentially, Formless content is what we fiction writers do, a flowing story that could pour into any container (Craig's description), whereas Definite content needs the structure of a consistent physical view, such as photos embedded with the text, or description that refers to adjacent graphics, etc., (think textbooks).
The Kindle does Formless content very well. But the iPad is going to absolutely kill the Definite content space. And, of course, the argument goes: why not have one device that does both?
Just Touch Me
After owning an iPhone for five months, I expect EVERY screen to respond to my touch (even my home heater thermostat a couple of years ago had a touch screen for setting the temperature). Other Smart Phone manufacturers are scrambling to release their next "iPhone killer." Why? A huge part is because of the touch screen interface.
Touching is normal for us. We understand it. It's kind of like ... reading a book! Yes!! We just touch the screen page and turn it to the next one. What could be easier?
But I think Amazon will jump forward. They already bought a company with touch screen technology a few days after the iPad announced. Touchco, Inc has flexible screens, so if Amazon can merge this technology with Kindle, it gives a new definition to stuffing a book into your beach bag.
Bottom line, though, is that it's going to get a lot easier to publish books. The barrier to entry--previously a mighty high wall--will drop to the height of...well the thickness of a Kindle or iPad: 1/3 to 1/2 an inch.