Apple's own approach to iPad e-books could confuse

Even as Apple's iPad will likely energize electronic reading, the new device is undermining a painstakingly constructed effort by the publishing industry to make it possible to move e-books between different electronic readers.

The slim, 1.5-pound "tablet" computer unveiled last week will be linked to Apple Inc.'s first e-book store when it goes on sale in a few months. The books, however, will not be compatible with Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle or with the major alternative e-book system.



Apple's creation of a third choice is likely to further frustrate and confuse consumers if they accumulate e-books for one device, then try to go back to read them later on a different one. The effect could be akin to having to buy a new set of CDs every time you get a new stereo system. It could also keep people from buying new e-readers as better models come out if they aren't compatible with the books they already have.



This could cool consumers' enthusiasm for e-books, the way sales of digital music downloads were hampered by a variety of copy-protection schemes.



"There are going to be some potentially painful lessons" for consumers when they try to move e-books they already own to new devices, said Nick Bogaty, senior manager of digital publishing business development at Adobe Systems, which provides the major alternative e-book system.



Before the iPad's debut, there have been two main camps in the e-book industry.



The e-books that Amazon sells work only on the Kindle and on Amazon's software, which can be loaded for free on PCs and some smart phones. Everyone else, including Sony, Barnes & Noble, and public libraries, have gathered around Adobe's system.



Adobe doesn't sell books itself, but provides software to booksellers and libraries so they can sell and lend books that can be opened on multiple devices. Like the Kindle store, the Adobe system uses a copy-protection system that prevents buyers from reselling the books or distributing them online.



Apple would not comment about the plans for its bookstore, but Adobe said its system isn't being used by Apple.



Apple already has its own copy-protection system for iTunes and can easily extend that to e-books.



"I don't see Apple feeling like they need to come in as 'the collaborator.' That's not their style," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said.



Apple has said it would embrace the EPUB format for its e-books. Although that's the format adopted by the Adobe camp, that alone does not ensure compatibility because Apple would be using its own copy-protection scheme on top of it.



Apple is thus set to create a third technology camp in the e-book industry. Consumers who start buying e-books and want to go back to their books after a few years would have to make sure they have a compatible device, or at least compatible software. That can be pretty complicated.



Even if Apple uses its own copy-protection system, it doesn't preclude books using the Kindle or the Adobe scheme from being read on the iPad or an iPhone as long as Apple continues to allow outside parties to develop e-reading software for the Apple devices. The user would just have to remember which book goes with which software.



However, it's unlikely that books bought from Apple's store would work on non-Apple devices, except for PCs running iTunes.



So far, no media industry has managed to unite on one copy-protection system for downloads. Music retailers, including Apple, used a variety of schemes before ultimately ditching copy protection entirely as customers found the limitations to be a big hassle. Music from iTunes couldn't be moved to a digital media player linked to Microsoft's store, and so forth.



Movies and television shows are still sold and rented with multiple copy-protection systems, though, so you can't move an iTunes video to a Microsoft Zune player.



Forrester's McQuivey believes the division into several e-book camps will persist for years, but may eventually narrow to just two alternatives, one of them being Amazon's.



He doesn't believe copy protection will ever go away for e-books. It died for music largely because CDs were never copy-protected, he noted, so consumers opted to buy them and convert them to digital files instead of buying downloads. Printed books, though they carry no copy protection, are difficult to convert to a digital format in the home.



As the market leader, Amazon has the scale to hold out with its own system, McQuivey said. Analysts estimate it has sold 3 million Kindles, and Amazon says it now sells six Kindle books for every 10 printed copies of books that are available in both formats.



All the same, the publishing industry has high hopes for the iPad, which unlike the Kindle and most other e-readers, will have a color screen that can show video.



Carolyn Reidy, the CEO of Simon & Schuster, said the iPad seems like a "terrific device," citing the clear screen and the ability to turn pages by touching a finger to the screen, as opposed to pushing a button, as the Kindle requires.



She said the fact that Apple already has 125 million customer credit card numbers through its iTunes store could add millions of potential book customers when the iPad goes on sale in two months, starting at $499 (£314).



Any disappointment because of confusion over copy protection could be offset, at least in the short term, by the excitement and publicity caused by trendsetter Apple's entry into the e-book market.



The addition of Apple to the e-book market also will likely have an effect on ongoing pricing disputes in the industry.



Amazon.com said Sunday it will give in to publishing giant Macmillan and agree to sell electronic versions of its books even at prices it considers too high. The retailer had pulled Macmillan books Saturday, including e-books for Amazon's Kindle e-reader, in a disagreement over the publisher's new pricing model for e-books.



Amazon wants to tamp down prices as it faces more competitors. But Macmillan and other publishers have criticized Amazon for charging just $9.99 for best-selling e-books on its Kindle e-reader, a price publishers say is too low and could hurt sales of higher-priced hardcovers.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Services Administrator - IT Industry

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of ICT servi...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line Technical Support Advisor - Up to £26K inc bonus

    £20230 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for a career in...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company is...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future