Special Dispatch from Inside the Apple iPad Press Conference

As we covered the liveblog and Twitter action in New York City, our special correspondent was hard at work inside the Apple iPad press conference in California. Here’s a dispatch from Wiley publicist and tireless literary reporter Cynthia Shannon.

Shannon described the event: “While we were waiting to go inside, it was clear that books were on nobody’s mind–I spoke with a few tech reporters and they didn’t seem to understand the impact that the iPad would have on the publishing industry … They were playing electric Bob Dylan music while the media was filing in. I didn’t realize it was a huge milestone in music until someone older than me explained it.”

She continued: “iBooks didn’t get as big of a gasp as the $499 price tag did, but of course, I could tell it would be that way. It basically looks like Classics on the iPhone, which I personally have always thought to be the best way to read and browse books. The books are displayed cover out, in full color, on a light brown ‘wood’ bookshelf. Tap on one, and it takes you to the chapter index. When you flip the iPad horizontally, you are looking at two pages of a book. Flipping pages is easy–no buttons to press, easy to flip around.”

She also observed: “In iBooks, you can change the font and size, but that’s pretty standard. You cannot highlight or make notes. You cannot insert a bookmark–when you leave the application, it will remember where you were when you return, but it didn’t work when I tried it! You can only read books that you purchase through iBooks, not through Amazon. So publishers will have to create a Kindle edition AS WELL AS an iPad edition.”

Shannon concluded: “The presentation of iBooks store was like iTunes for books: you can look at the reviews, you can read sample chapters, summary, etc. This is the new storefront that publishers will have to consider now. Placement in the iBooks store. What info you want to make available. Apple could not comment on whether self-publishers will be able to upload their books.”

You can follow Cynthia Shannon on Twitter.