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.

The Kindle is a big, shiny, distracting object

Hey book people: don’t be fooled by the Kindle. Amazon has no interest in hardware. That’s the conclusion Joe Wikert reaches in an excellent bit of analysis. I couldn’t agree more. The Kindle is a big, shiny object that’s distracting…

Hey book people: don’t be fooled by the Kindle. Amazon has no interest in hardware.

That’s the conclusion Joe Wikert reaches in an excellent bit of analysis. I couldn’t agree more. The Kindle is a big, shiny object that’s distracting everyone from Amazon’s more subversive (and smart) move: It’s trying to become the source of ebooks. It doesn’t want to own that market. It wants to rule it.

It’s entirely possible that Jeff Bezos and Co. originally sought to duplicate Apple’s iPod-iTunes model. But take a look at the evidence Joe presents: At some point in the last two years, Amazon realized it’s not Apple. The hardware gambit only works if you create something miraculous. The iPod and iPhone certainly qualify as technical marvels. Spend 30 seconds with an Apple product and you’ll come away deeply impressed. Spend 30 seconds with a Kindle and you’ll want your 30 seconds back.

Amazon just can’t cut it in the hardware game. I bet the higher-ups don’t particular care, either. This is a company that redefined retail efficiency. It’s masterful at satisfying consumer demand, more so than Apple or even the big daddy of the retail chain, Wal-Mart. Publishers need to realize — and the smart ones already do — that the Amazon threat doesn’t lie in a device. It’s in the distribution.