Why the iPad could be a nightmare for writers

I’ve written a chunk elsewhere about the implications of the iPad, and while the iBook Store is going to be a large part of it, there’s a couple of questions that arise including how does an unpublished author or an author whose publishers has gone bust get his books online – who will decide what books go on and what doesn’t? Basically are you out of luck if you don’t sign with an Apple-approved publisher?

The other main issue is that if writers need to provide extra multimedia material then they are hosed. Most writers are good at one thing: writing. Not taking video, adding audio or anything like that. Writing. The clue is in the name.

So for writers to succeed in this brave new world they have three options:

  • Work with other people to do the extra material – which will cost money (which will come from the author’s advance or be deducted as part of the book costs – but still, less money for writer).
  • Do the extra material themselves – which takes them away from writing and delays publication
  • The publisher brings in others – but again that means either less money to the writer or the book costs go up (what? You think the publisher is going to take less money?)

I’m not knocking writers, but speaking from experience (and I believe Charlie Stross made a similar point recently – writers are good at writing).

Also, if you can only get on the iPad/iBook by dealing with an Apple-approved publisher, boy are those companies in for a chunk more submissions for the slush pile…

Of course, it’s also a very decent digital input device for approx £400, so it could give many authors a reason to type a novel from bed…