iPads, ebooks and Brown Girls. Oh my, indeed.

March 9, 2011

My initial encounter with an iPad came poolside at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. My son, who works for Apple and is, I’m fairly certain, contractually bound to play with every new gadget, brought his model along to show off like a new father emerging from the delivery room.

And so we perched on the edge of our chaises longues, two grown men ignoring several metres of delightful female flesh clad in mere millimetres of clingy material, while we peered, mesmerized, at a glowing tablet of plastic and glass.

I’m a man. We’re hardwired to fulfil certain functions. Perpetuating the human race, for instance. Collecting Toys for Boys, for another. Which is why I had no choice but to purchase an iPad for myself.

I took it back to Rarotonga where, I’m willing to bet, it was the only one of its kind on the island. Unfortunately, for all its lovely beaches and lively nightspots and exotic dancers, Rarotonga does not have free WiFi. Nowhere. Not one place.

And so what I ended up with was a rather expensive ebook reader. But, considering the actual hard-copy weight of the 24 books I had stored on the machine, the iPad was already proving itself to be a wise investment.

Now that I’ve returned to New Zealand, where WiFi is as common as running water, I am starting to take advantage of another great feature of the iPad: I can surf the Internet while in the bathroom. What was once dubbed “the library” is now called “the office.” And they say men can’t multi-task.

As an iPad owner in New Zealand, however, I’m still in the minority. They are expensive ($800 NZ) and largely unavailable in electronics stores, which seldom carry anything Mac anyway. Even the Apple dealer in town had to order his machine from the company’s website because he wasn’t going to be stocking any in his store.

Viking Woman wasn’t exactly thrilled at not being consulted on the purchase but that was before I found her reading one of the ebooks. And, just like that, “my” iPad suddenly became “our” iPad.

On those now-rare occasions when I can spirit my baby away for some “us” time, I have accessed the iBooks Store section to see which novels from my favourite authors are now available in the ebook format, as technology changes the publishing world forever.

Stephen King. Check. James Lee Burke. Check. Stuart MacBride. Check. Joe Hill, Elmore Leonard. Check and check.

Just on a whim, I did a search for my own book, Brown Girls. And there it was, available for $5.99 from Smashwords. Staring back at me from the screen of my iPad, as bright and bold and beautiful as the offerings of King or Burke or the others. As readily available to the whole wide world as those uber-talented best-selling bazillonaires. You can even download a free sample. How cool is that?

At one time, you had to go directly to the Smashwords website itself to buy Brown Girls as an ebook. The last time I checked, I’d sold two whole copies, including one to a faithful reader of this blog.

But now that the purchase of my book is a mere tap away from those 15 million people who bought the first version of the iPad, surely my words would be selling like the proverbial hotcakes. Right?

And . . . no. Available for some three years now as an ebook and, after much jumping through hoops, finally given Premium Status in April last year, Brown Girls has yet to make me rich.

This is all a bit disheartening but all I can do, really, is get on with writing another . . . wait. What?

Apple is releasing iPad 2?

Dear Son: Meet me in Vegas. It’s urgent. Oh, and don’t tell Viking Woman.


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