iPad. Umm. Awful name… but I think I want one

From what I can see so far, I will want an iPad. I won’t be happy with the name – my Mac’s iPad? Ugh! But according to the spec I can use an accessory connector to import images from an SD card over USB, and I would hope in the future to be able to use a similar accessory to use a standard external USB hard drive.

If that hope is fulfilled, the iPad just might wind up replacing my MacBook, and either the iPod touch would go away or wind up as a supplementary device (i.e., go back to being mainly my music device). On the other hand, if it isn’t possible to use some form of external storage, I would be much less enthusiastic about the tablet, though I would still be able to maintain external data using software over the WiFi connection (the way I currently work with stanza, for example). I expect my desktop would remain, but even that might change if I can use a USB drive with the iPad.

It looks as though I can read books adequately using the existing ebook readers, which means I’ll have access to the Baen books which meet my criterion for ebooks (prior post). In addition, there are enough other apps which I already use that the iPad will be a useful device right away and will become even more useful later, particularly as developers extend and adapt their existing products and release new ones.

The price. OK, I’m not entirely happy with that. It’s fair for the feature set, but obviously lower is better, particularly in light of my retirement last year. Living on savings is difficult at best, and every new device will add to the problems (Have I mentioned before about how I’d like to see certain business leeches people taken out and shot for what they have done to the economy? No? Consider it said.).

The iPad won’t be available for a couple more months – and maybe in the meantime additional info will have cooled me down – but for now, I’m jumping up and down in anticipation.

Kicking and screaming

I’ve written before this of my growing frustration with Apple’s Aperture as compared with Adobe’s LightRoom. I’m not the only one – Nick Santilli has written a plea for a major upgrade to Aperture, and I agree with him 100%. LR 3.0 is expected in April – and if Aperture is still stuck at 2.1 I will probably be dragged kicking and screaming over to the Other Side. I want to see at least a point upgrade which delivers 64-bit performance (after trying 3.0 I now find Aperture unpleasantly slow) and better/more editing features. Santilli mentions Faces and Places, and I could get behind that as well, but what I would really like to see is better support for additional themes. Changing an Aperture web page around is painful right now, while LR seems to have third-party themes (both paid and free) coming out the proverbial wazoo (what is that, anyway? something scatological, I betcha).

Show Aperture users a little love, Apple.

Ebooks? So far, not interested.

I like to read. A lot. There’re probably around 5000 books accumulated over the years and scattered around the house, and it’s not unusual for me to be carrying a couple of books in a coat or jacket. I pull one out when I have to wait in a line, if I have to ride a bus, or if I’m stuck in a waiting room.

For several months now, I’ve been able to read books on my iPod. Great stuff.

Well, not really. If I want to read a new book on my iPod, I have to buy it. And that’s a problem.

Oh, it’s easy enough. There are lots of apps which connect to on-line bookstores which would be happy to supply me with books for a price. The price, the price…. is too high.

This is my reader (whether it’s on a pod, a tablet, a desktop, wherever). I’m supplying the place to store the content. There is no paper, no shelf, no bricks-and-mortar store. Distribution costs have to be minimal compared to the cost of printing the book on dead trees, burning up fossils to drag the book to a physical store, and paying clerks to handle the physical stock. So why do most ebooks cost almost the same as the hardcover version of the text, and in any case more than the paperback edition*? As long as that is true, where is my incentive to buy the ebook version?

I buy paperbacks and treat them well. It’s the only way to feed my habit – I can read the book, and come back to it a few years later. Offer me an ebook for less than the paperback price, in a format which I can read on a device I choose and can transfer to other devices — because in a couple of years I might have moved on to a different device — and I’ll buy that instead. Otherwise? Forget it.

*case in point – Blood Bound, by Patricia Briggs, published in paperback in 2007 [so, not a new bestseller] is $7.99 on Amazon.com, or $8.39 for the Kindle e-book. As it happens, I have it as a paperback, but if I’d missed it, I would have been quite happy to pay, say, $1.49, directly to Ms Briggs for an epub version. I would have been even happier to have bought it that way at that price in the first place, but that’s another matter.

But let’s tip the hat to Jim Baen and his policy of keeping ebook prices low, and sending the majority of the payment to the author (per Eric Flint, in The Best of Baen’s Universe #1. Jim Baen is gone now, but was a great role-model for other publisher’s – and I hope they will ultimately follow his example (and that of his successors).