Penguin’s Book Country dropping print on demand

Book Country, a community / publishing service run by Penguin, is in the midst of a relaunch. Among the changes noted in this Publishers Weekly piece is the elimination of a print-on-demand (POD) option.

Book Country community manager Colleen Lindsay (@ColleenLindsay) explained the move:

“Not too many [authors] wanted POD, there are other places to go for POD and e-books are easier to produce. We want to offer the best e-book solution for authors.”

That’s interesting. I think of print as one output among many. I’ve never given any consideration to the merits of dropping a format — print is the same as PDF or EPUB or Mobi in my mind — but if I really had to eliminate a format because of business considerations, of course I’d get rid of print. It’s the format with the most overhead and the most risk.

Today’s nugget of awesome: the iPad syncs EPUB files

I did something amazing today. I held out for nearly four hours before pre-ordering an iPad. Seriously. That’s a huge deal for me. I mean, I own the Apple Airport Extreme, okay? I’ve got an Apple TV and a…

iPad

I did something amazing today.

I held out for nearly four hours before pre-ordering an iPad. Seriously. That’s a huge deal for me. I mean, I own the Apple Airport Extreme, okay? I’ve got an Apple TV and a Mac Mini. My Apple fanboyism teeters on psychosis.

To reward me for my loyalty (and my recent herculean effort and inevitable cave-in), Apple continues to release details on the iPad that have nipped any lingering buyer’s remorse in the bud. For example, there’s this info delight that comes courtesy Wired’s Gadget Lab:

And for EPUB titles that are not offered through the iBooks store, you can manually add them to iTunes and then sync them to the iPad … That’s good news for iPad customers, because that means bookworms won’t be limited to the offerings in the iBooks store, which are based on partnerships that Apple inked with publishers.

This is a genius move on two fronts:

1. It makes the iPad semi-open. If you’ve already got EPUB files hanging around, you can port them to the iPad. And if you buy future EPUB-based books from smart publishers that support the format (ahem), you should be able to sync those titles with the device as well. The original iPod took off because it automatically worked with the pre-existing MP3 collections people had built up. Now, there aren’t that many people out there with EPUB stockpiles. I realize that. But if you do have those files, or you want to buy material outside the iBookstore down the road, you can read all that stuff on the iPad. Well played, Apple.

2. It puts Amazon in a bind because the Kindle doesn’t support EPUB by default. Now that the iPad does support the format natively, that makes the Kindle even more restrictive. Think about that. Apple — the poster child for a totalitarian product ecosystem — is making Amazon look like the bad guy.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say about the iPad in coming days. Lord knows I can’t stop tweeting about it. But for now, I’ll revel in the anticipated joy the weekend of April 3-4 will bring: iPad on 4/3 and Red Sox opening night on 4/4.