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Kurzweil claims Apple had to 'jerry-rig' books for iPad

updated 04:40 pm EDT, Fri June 18, 2010

Ray Kurzweil touts Blio over iBooks

Futurist and Blio founder Ray Kurzweil today criticized Apple for doing nothing to help e-books with the iPad. He insists that most e-reader devices and apps, including Apple's, "destroy" any complex formatting and discourages complex text layouts, such as for children's books or textbooks. ePub books like those in the iBookstore may scare away publishers and may have forced Apple to play with text to get an acceptable look.

"Apple showed one jerry-rigged Winnie-the-Pooh book on TV, which they had to craft by hand," Kurzweil accused in an interview with the NYT.

Blio is designed specifically to avoid most of the issues as, almost like a PDF, it preserves the placement and style of diagrams and other images without losing abilities such as annotation, font adjustment and highlights. The app mostly works on computers but has mobile support and is designed with tablets like the iPad in mind.

The dispute underscores a growing problem with periodicals and other non-book literature on not just the iPad but the Kindle and other readers. Subscription material exists for both but has either been stripped of most of its imagery and secondary material on grayscale e-paper readers or necessarily shunted to a third-party native app on the iPad, raising the costs of producing magazines and anything where design is as important as the text.

by MacNN Staff



  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    They can always publish to DRM-free PDF.

    Whiners. Jeez.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Version 1

    People often forget that.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    my enthusiasm

    for the 'new medium' is exactly so - 'books' may be reinvented rather than translated - as the printing press redefined literature (apparently monks needed soundproof booths & read aloud) so too I suspect the eBook is only just starting a dramatic transition in possibilities - authoring will actually be the greater beneficiary assuming authors can keep up with the exponential increase in access to the universe of references...

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I think I saw

    some pretty wacked formatting in one of the e-magazines promoted for the iPad. I'm reasonably certain it was mostly by design. And really, what is the big deal? Can you read the content? Is the content somehow more compelling or relevant having been formatted out the wahzoo? I'd argue that it is less so in many cases.

    "My coffee table book doesn't have any weight to it when read on the iPad!" :P

    Here's something I hadn't thought of before with regard to the iPad. Some people like to read while they're using the bathroom. ewwww. No! I don't want to examine your iPad.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    you're right, apple has done nothing

    except introduce a relatively open platform where you can add support for your blio format if you got off your lazy a$$ and stopped whining. a platform that also has the ability to consolidate books from multiple ebookstores including B&N and Kindle.

    sounds like they've done more for ebooks than a closed proprietary hardware device like the kindle or nook.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Did I miss the newsflash that declared that Kurzweil wasn't an idiot? Last time I looked he was still a dopey deluded cretin but maybe I'm not entirely with it.

  1. Tralthamidor

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Sorry guys but DRM has nothing to do with the formatting problem.

    I work in publishing and the current state of affairs is a disaster concerning e-books. Many standards but epub is emerging as a main contender. Sony, Kindle and others ask for a PDF for convenience but they just dump into their proprietary product without formatting.

    PDFs don't solve the problem because the formatting is baked in. ie: page breaks are set for an 8.5 x 11. So you are scrolling and you get the last line on the page and it is an orphan. The formatting has to be done with CSS/HTML so that it is dynamic and can be controlled with stylesheets. Unfortunately this info is not passed on to the PDF and only the most current books can get this from the stylesheets in InDesign. Quark doesn't offer this.

    To do an ebook is labor intensive, add graphics and it becomes cost prohibitive. Everybody is just waiting until the format winner is crowned so they don't have to do it again.

    Feathers: you are way off base. Raymond Kurzweil is a brilliant man. The work he has done with OCR and text-to-speech for the blind and specifically the work he did with Stevie Wonder is generally accepted as one of the first major achievements in artificial intelligence.

    "dopey deluded cretin"? That's pretty rude.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The iPad has only been out a short while

    and certainly the platform needs time to mature than merely a few months before it can be said to be destroying the entire publishing industry.

    I'm thinking that there should continue to be single purpose reader devices that can handle everything publishers throw at it and leave everything intact. And even if you changed character size it wouldn't throw off page references and such. I guess all the publishers need to get together and arrive at an electronic format that nearly everyone agrees with.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Much Ado about Nothing

    For a lot of books, it's the text that matters. Not the format. For those where it does matter, you make a reader for it or use PDF etc. It's really not a huge deal. If you do well for your book you can actually monetize it into an app you allow others to use for the same gig. Double win.
    This is basically what ScrollMotion is trying to do

  1. ccoulson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Blio for iPad?

    If Kurzweil's Blio is so good, why doesn't he port it to the iPad???

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