Tablet Part One: The biggest problem in keeping the God Tablet a secret

Thing is, we need to talk to publishing companies and line up content deals. But unlike the music companies, the a-holes in publishing can’t keep their mouths shut.

Which is how Brian Lam of Gizmodo manages to land this scarily in-depth scoop about what’s going on with the Tablet. Fair enough, Brian is a pretty amazing reporter, probably the best on the gadget-gizmo beat these days. He’s light years ahead of Goatberg and Smurfy, and what’s more, they know it, and it drives them nuts. But the real problem with the Tablet is that everyone we talk to rushes right out and tells the whole fucking world what we’re doing. Sure, they’ve all signed NDAs, with terms that allow us to sell their kids into slavery if they talk. But these aren’t human beings we’re dealing with. They’re hacks. These people have no sense of honor. Note the following quotes from Gizmodo:

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a “new device.”

Moshe is on it, but my guess is it’s Pogue and Damon Darlin, the tech editor.

Then this:

A person close to a VP in textbook publishing mentioned to me in July that McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press are working with Apple to move textbooks to iTunes.

Oy. Book publishers. They’re worse than the news guys. But “a person close to a VP in textbook publishing”? My bet is it’s a barista.

And this:

Apple also recently had several executives from one of the largest magazine groups at their Cupertino’s campus, where they were asked to present their ideas on the future of publishing.

That’s either Time Warner or Conde Nast. We’ve met with both, but we’re not sure who leaked. Probably Conde, via Wired, where Brian Lam used to work. Again, Moshe is on it.

But the killer comment, and the one that explains why Brian Lam is now the best tech journalist in the business, comes at the end:

The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.

More on this in my next post.