Our new iBook reader

Spent the weekend using the latest prototype of our iBook electronic reader which came in Friday in a batch from Shenzhen. It’s an amazing device. Gorgeous. Slim, fast. About the size of the Sony Reader but with a color multi-touch screen, plus the ability to surf the Web on WiFi, get email, make phone calls, listen to music and watch movies. Imagine an iPhone or iPod Touch but with a screen that’s 3.5 inches wide by 5 inches tall and wrapped in a buttery soft faux leather case. Just a killer device. And it’s totally debugged and ready to go. We could be shipping them now. We could have been shipping them a month ago. But there are two issues.

First off, Jeanie Falzone, the woman who does my karmic repatterning, says we’ve been putting way too much technology into the market in too short a time. She says the world needs time to absorb new technology and if we overload that delicate balance we risk throwing the entire planet into some kind of flux state that could be really dangerous.

Second problem is iBook’s buttery soft faux leather case. To be sure, it’s buttery soft. We spent huge amounts of time working with material scientists in Japan and Germany and ended up having to create our own unique material which has the highest buttery softness of any faux leather material ever developed.

The problem is the color. I know the color I want. I can see it in my mind’s eye. It’s hard to describe. It’s a light brown, but not quite tan. It’s the exact color of the cover of a first edition of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” which I used to have in my library, a version of which is shown above. But the color I want is the color of that book when viewed outdoors late in the day in my backyard with the sun going down into the Santa Cruz mountains. Unfortunately I no longer have my copy of this book (left it in a limo, duh) so we can’t work from the original. And the other copies still in existence are not the same shade.

I’ve gone through thousands of color swatches but the problem is that the color you see on a sample card isn’t exactly the same when you apply it to our buttery soft faux leather case. Our guys just can’t get it right and I keep having to send these units back with a note saying, “Try again.” I know it’s making them a little nuts, but hey, you know what? That’s how we roll at Apple. Like I told them, Look, we spent six months working on the single button for iBook, getting the exact right sheen on the titanium, the exact right size, the perfect resistance and action so that when you press it you say, Yes, that’s it, there’s a perfect titanium button under my finger and I know this is a high-quality mass-market luxury product. Heck, we spent a year rearranging the chips on the circuit board until the layout felt holistic to me.

After all that work on every tiny piece of the system, you think we’re going to ship the thing with a buttery soft faux leather case that isn’t the right color? I mean the case is the first thing someone is going to see when they look at iBook. It has to be perfect. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. And we’ve got the time, since Jeanie Falzone has put us on hold until at least January. We might as well take advantage of the opportunity to make this thing perfect. (Photo: Burt Hammer, Rare Books magazine.)

Sent from my iBook