The Shiny New iPad: What it Means for Publishers

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Apple’s announcement of the new iPad received a lot of attention today, but what does it mean for your business?


Changes to the new iPad are primarily hardware-based. The new key features are a quad-core A5X processor and a new Retina screen sporting 2048 × 1536 pixels at 234 pixels per inch. This effectively doubles the resolution of the iPad 2, while the new retina display is capable of displaying full 1080p HD video.

These specs, along with an enhanced camera and iLife applications, mean that the new iPad brings stunning and faster high definition interactive experiences to your readers’ hands.

The biggest audience for the new iPad will continue to be content and media consumers. The combination of the new retina screen resolution and faster processing will vastly enhance and enrich the reading experience of books, newspapers, magazines, and catalogs.

Production Implications

What does the new iPad mean for the publishing industry? And what impact will it have on the further evolution of the eBook?

Publishers can leverage the power of the iPad’s new hardware to create more impactful eBooks with enhanced interactive features, brilliant visuals, improved 3D graphics, and all with enough bandwidth to stream interactive media components smoothly over 4G network connections.  (Note that production of these enhancements comes at an increased cost over standard media components.)

Apple has updated all of its stock apps to support the retina display on the new iPad.

Most importantly, Apple has ensured that the new iPad is backward compatible to support all existing iBooks as well as the iBooks 2 app introduced in January.

To publishers this means that production editorial groups will need to engage in careful, upfront decision planning to support enhanced and fixed layout books going forward.

If a publisher wishes to target a book with iPad HD-enabled interactive features for exclusive sale in Apple’s iBook Store, the publishing production path through Apple’s ecosystem is clear: use the iBooks Author application to produce an ibooks format file, and submit the eBook to Apple for approval and listing in the Apple iBook Store.

If, however, a publisher wishes to distribute eBooks with interactive features across a wide spectrum of retailers, in addition to Apple’s iBook Store, then product planning must be based upon workflows designed to optimize content source files that can be easily converted or transformed for each target vendor’s eBook format.

An optimal production workflow includes the use of open specifications such as the IDPF’s EPUB specification. Adoption of the EPUB standard as an eBook format provides publishers a base for producing other required output formats. Additional required delivery formats may include the KF8 format for Amazon’s Kindle Fire, or tweaked EPUB files for display on other specific reading devices such as the Barnes and Noble NOOK Tablet or Kobo Vox.

Publishers must build enough time into publishing schedules to accommodate any added assembly, and for testing of their titles across all targeted platforms.

Workflow planning should also include using the optimized publishing source files to produce deliverable eBook files that are easily delivered to, and approved for sale by, each of the main eBook retailers beyond the Apple iBook Store: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books.

The New Industry Standard

More pixels and additional processing speed provides unique opportunities to support new user experience features and opens an array of new possibilities across the eBook, and in particular, the enhanced eBook, landscape.

The new iPad will undoubtedly raise consumer expectations and thereby the bar for what qualifies as a quality eBook.

As publishers begin exploring the potential of the new iPad, Apple can rest (albeit briefly) knowing that it has outpaced its competitors and left the rest of the tablet industry to catch up, yet again.


Priced at $499, the new iPad with wifi and 16GB storage will be available in Apple, AT&T, and Verizon stores on March 16, 2012 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.

Apple will continue their relationship with wireless data providers and announced that the new iPad will also be available with 4G for the base price plus an additional $129.

Expert Publishing Blog
Jean Kaplansky

About Jean Kaplansky

Jean Kaplansky is a Solutions Architect at Aptara, which provides digital publishing solutions to content providers for capitalizing on new digital and mobile mediums. Jean is an avid reader and early adopter of eBooks and eBook-related technology, going back to 1996. Her publishing production past includes work as an XML Architect for Cengage Learning, a Systems Analyst for Pfizer Global Research and Development, and an XML Consultant at Arbortext. Jean’s introduction to typography and publishing production involved a calculator, some printed galleys, and a pica stick back in 1992. Follow her occasional tweets at @JeanKaplansky.

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