I know, I know, that heading was a bit on the sensational side.

But, yannow, so is Penguin CEO, John Makinson, telling the world that ‘The definition of the book is up for grabs‘. And what did he back that rather bold statement up with? Well, this video (I found it courtesy of these fine folk), showing what cool stuff Penguin can put on the iPad.

Now, don’t get me wrong. What it shows IS pretty cool. Really it is.


It seemed to me to look more like a cross between one of those old CDroms and a website.

Which is all well and good and snazzy.

But (again)

we’re talking about books. iBooks and eBooks and all that. And what do books have that the above demonstration has kind of neglected?

You got it, folks. WORDS.

Now, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m not the iPad’s biggest fan, so this may well be biased. But it’s my blog so I can be! I can also tell you why I’m a little bit worried.

Apple’s iBooks store and the iPad are supposed to be part of the next step in the evolution of reading (and I’m not opposed to change, I should say) but what they seem to be doing is ignoring the two most important parts of reading: words and they way they are read. They’ve chosen a device which doesn’t use the brilliant e-ink that every other electronic reader uses, instead it seems that they’re willing to replace words with graphics. Now that’s great for textbooks and educational things and the like. But what about all the other kinds of books? The ones that aren’t illustrated. The ones that don’t need to be. The ones whose words do the talking? I hope Mr Makinson isn’t hoping what he’s shown in the above video is what the definition of what the book will be, because that does writers and readers a a huge discredit. Books, or the majority of them, should be about their words.

Any thoughts? Am I wrong? Overreacting?