Nov 9 2008
I am still digesting and working on a post regarding the Google BookSearch Settlement. If you have thoughts on it, feel free to email me (jane at dearauthor.com). I’m fairly concerned about the future impacts and my initial feelings are ones of concern. Today, though, I thought I would give some bullet point items about ebook technology and some brief thoughts about the current slate of ebook reading programs for the iPhone. I’ll be doing the annual eBook Reader Purchase Guide in the last two weeks of November (after the Google BookSearch Settlement post next week).
There are three major romance publishers who either do not release their books in ebook format or do it irregularly. Those are Dorchester, Tor, and St. Martin’s Press. Keishon noticed that Shomi books were appearing in the Kindle and Sony stores. Upon further searching, many Dorchester books are available for the Kindle. There are C. L. Wilson‘s books in Kindle format and more. I have heard that Tor will be coming out with eBooks, first in Kindle and then other formats.
I asked one print publisher why Kindle is getting so many books first and was told that Amazon will convert the book to ebook format for the publisher. I don’t know if this is true for all publishers. For example, Grand Central provides the ebooks in ePub to vendors and then the vendors must wrap the ePub container with the requisite DRM (i.e., MS Lit, eReader, Mobi, etc). I guess Kindle and Mobi (both owned by Amazon) are just more on top of the game.
eBook Sales Are Booming
According to IDPF, eBook sales are growing. This quarter sales were $13 million compared to the same quarter last year sales of $8 million. The numbers are derived from the sales reports 12-15 trade publishers who report their numbers to IDPF. While the numbers are small compared to the overall size of the publishing industry (over $1 Billion in sales), each positive quarter is promising for this segment of publishing.
The Classics iPhone App
Recently a new ebook reader app was added to the iPhone Application Store. Classics runs $2.99 and contains a library of thirteen books. While the books are lovingly coded into an iPhone friendly format, I found the application to be highly irritating. The animation for page turning cannot be turned off (you can see the animation at the previous link) and there is no adjustment for font size. There are actually no preferences which the user can set. This application is unusable for anyone who wants to read anything other than the selection provided by the developers. Further, if you want to control your own reading experience, you are better off downloading the “classic” titles off Project Gutenburg for free.
Each iPhone ebook application has its strengths and weaknesses. Stanza’s strength is the neat coverflow feature; the ability to edit the title and author of a book straight from the iPhone; and the ability to organize the books into collections on the iPhone. It’s weakness are that each book has to be converted individually; getting ebooks from the computer onto the iPhone requires the book to be “opened” on the desktop and for the iPhone and the computer to be on the same network; and no notes feature.
iPhone Bookshelf has the best “bookshelf” feature. iPhone Bookshelf allows you to setup a bookshelf on your home computer that can be accessed anywhere you have cell signal. Further, it reads a ton of different formats without manual conversion, meaning I can drop an html file for a book I downloaded from Samhain without converting it manually. This sets iPhone Bookshelf apart, in my opinion, and makes it worth the $9.99 price. With the update, there are few crashes (although it does hang from time to time at the end of a section); the ability to “go to” any part of the book; and “live” html links. The weakness is the hanging; no notes feature; no ability to edit title and author; no collection, tagging, etc.
Of the three, the eReader program is probably the best reading application. With the update, there is a great bookmark/highlight/notes feature. The way to take a note is to press your finger on a word and wait a second and then drag to highlight the text you want in the note. Sometimes the keyboard does not appear for notetaking, rendering that portion of the application unuseable from time to time. The weaknesses of the eReader program is that the notes portion doesn’t always work; no ability to edit title and author; limiting font sizes (small, medium, large, etc); no ability to form collections, tagging, etc.
For the iPhone Bookshelf, I would like the ability to edit the title and author straight from the iPhone as well as tag books with paranormal, favorites, etc. It would be great to be able to create a “playlist” of books that I want to read. It would also be great to be able to share that “playlist” with others. For example, we have a Recommended Reads monthly feature and I would love to be able to share that list with other users of the iPhone in a short and pithy way.
Those are my thoughts for today. Later on, I’ll be posting an update from Liquid Silver on the changes to their eBookstore. I’d love to hear from readers of eBooks as to what they wished they could change about their existing eBook reading software and what they absolutely love.