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Pak Talks Comics: Apple tablet may not ship until June — and I’m happy?

By Greg Pak
As you might have guessed from my voluminous post about comic books and the Apple tablet, I want the iSlate, and I want it now. But recent rumors indicate that although the long-rumored machine will supposedly be announced on January 27, it won’t actually ship until June. And as far as comics go, that might actually be a very good thing.
According to Apple Insider, an analyst named Shawn Wu claims that “checks with supply chain sources” indicate the tablet won’t ship until June. Meanwhile, MacRumors notes that Amazon has tweaked its Kindle royalty program to offer better rates to publishers — with the new deal beginning in June, presumably to compete with the new Apple tablet.
As a reader eager to get my hands on an Apple tablet, June is way too late. But as a creator with an interest in getting as many new readers as possible buying comics for the Apple tablet, an extra few months to prepare may be invaluable.
If we’re lucky, the tablet will be able to display regular ol’ pdfs, which will make it possible to put old content into readers’ hands almost immediately. But the tablet may use different formats — or may introduce a brand new format. My hope is that Apple reveals the formats at or shortly after its January 27 event. And then publishers and individual creators will have plenty of time to prepare their content to take advantage of whatever new features the format will allow.
Even if the tablet uses only preexisting formats, we’ll benefit from having a little more time to prepare our content — at the bare minimum, by adding hyperlinks and supplemental material that will allow readers to immediately access new comics by clicking on links within the comic they’re reading. (See my previous post for a whole lot more on this subject.)
And if we’re extremely lucky, Apple will reveal what online stores will support the new format (an updated iTunes store? Longbox?) so we’ll get a soft launch of the sales tools and can hammer out any kinks before the actual tablet hits.
It’s also possible that a June launch could benefit smaller publishers and creators by giving them more time to work out deals with Apple to get into the stores. As I recall, the first iteration of the iTunes store had only big record labels. It took a while for independents to get access. If we’re lucky, we can avoid that kind of logjam and get comics of all kinds into the Apple store in time for the tablet’s launch.
Finally, the extra time will allow individual creators to continue to build their networks and mailing lists so they’re ready to spread the word about their comics when the tablet finally hits.
Sooo… join my mailing list?

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