Since before Steve Jobs revealed the existence of the iPad to the general public, there were rumors about a tablet-like device from Apple that would revolutionize the print and newspaper businesses just as the iPod did to the music industry.
Sure enough, back in January, Apple was joined by a number of high profile book publishers, including HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group with the announcement of iBooks, an iPad specific app for reading books. Jobs demonstrated the application, which features a virtual bookshelf containing the user's personal collection of books noting "If you've used iTunes or the App Store, you're already familiar with this."
But what about self-publishers and bloggers?
Consider that in the iPod world, many indie artist are on near equal footing with major record labels. In fact, Apple even provides an "Indie Spotlight" section in the iTunes Music Store, which only features music from independent artists.
Or that the iPod prompted the term "podcasting" which, while not specifically meaning to broadcast via iTunes to individual iPods, is most certainly enhanced by the existence of the two and a simple way for many beginning self-broadcasters to get noticed.
So then what does the iPad provide for those who focus on symbols instead of sounds?
Smashwords, a site that enables authors to publish their own eBooks, recently notified its authors via email that it has signed a distribution deal with Apple which allows writers to offer their works for sale to iPad owners.
Smashwords already publishes eBooks for independent authors in nine formats and can distribute to a number of sites including Barnes & Noble and Kobo. So inking a publishing deal with Apple certainly makes sense and no doubt signals the beginning of numerous other independent and self-publishing services targeting the iPad's iBookstore.
Meanwhile, for bloggers and readers of various news feeds, Glasshouse Apps has developed what the Next Web is calling a "Gorgeous iPad RSS Reader." The app, called The Early Edition, arranges stories on the screen just like newspaper, but allows the user to customize which news sources to pull from and where to place individual stories.
These two early entries provide an interesting glimpse into what may indeed be not just the revolution of the print and distribution business, but an evolution of the writer as well.
What do you think? Will the iPad be a boon to independent and mainstream alike?