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Professional Reading Apps Around the iPhone Corner

I know I promised to do a piece on the history of Net Neutrality legislation and what is the current state of the governmental proposals. I still intend to do that within the next couple of weeks. Today, though, is June 1, and next Tuesday, June 9, Steve Jobs will announce the release of the next generation iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Development Conference (WWDC).

Last year in June, the first iPhone was released to much excitement. I was an early adopter (and paid for it) but I don’t regret it. Since June, I have used my iPhone everyday, several times a day. I use it to send and receive calls, messages, and emails; to visit my favorite blogs; and, of course, to read ebooks.

The challenge with the first iPhone was that there were no authorized third party applications. In order to read ebooks, one had to jailbreak it and it wasn’t always easy. The eBook reader developed and provided for free by an awesome individual, Chris Born, was basic. It provided a method for reading the ebooks, but getting ebooks onto the iPhone required a bit of skill (basically ftp-ing to your phone) and once on the iPhone, there wasn’t any way to organize, rank, bookmark, or annotate the books.

This is a barrier for many people. I understand from talking to people and reading blogs that the key to the Kindle is ease of use. There was no hacking required to get an ebook on the Kindle. What would make more people adopt the iPhone as an ebook reader that could be easily installed and an iTunes like desktop interface that would allow playlists (all the June books in your TBR), tagging (ie. books with werewolves),

In March, Apple opened its iPhone doors and offered up a SDK or a Software Development Kit that developers outside of Apple could use to create iPhone compatible applications. A few of the thousand of developers who grabbed the SDK were ebook software companies.

At the IDPF in May, Mobipocket gave a demonstration of its software and the President & CEO said that there would be a reader for the iPhone by the end of the year.
Fictionwise, the owner of the eReader platform, said this:

Right now we’re trying to get the ‘Secure eReader’ ebook format working on the iPhone and iTouch.

Apple released their SDK for iPhone/iTouch on March 6. We have two Mac development experts doing the work to make our ‘eReader Pro’ software function on the iPhone/iTouch right now. Apple will allow third party applications, like eReader, to be used by customers after the next iPhone/iTouch firmware update which is currently estimated to be released on June 30 and we expect to be done with our porting work at about the same time. However, there is also a wild card in that Apple must approve of each and every application released for iPhone/iTouch, and we are currently seeking information about what the criteria are to qualify. We will certainly support these devices if we possibly can and Apple allows it.

When I asked Bill McCoy’s Apple, I was told that Adobe’s goal is to enable Adobe eBooks (both PDF and EPUB) on all devices including the iPhone but there are no specifics that can be provided.

Essentially, I think we can see three of the major ebook software companies making iPhone compatible readers. Why does this impact you, the reader? A few reasons.

First, easy installation. With approved third party applications, there will be no need to hack open the software of the iPhone to gain ebook reading capabilties.

Second, the ease of use that the Kindle offers will likely be present on the iPhone because the iPhone has both data and cell phone capabillities allowing you to access the internet nearly everywhere. If you can access the internet, the next step is to be able to buy a book. Mobipocket already allows you to buy a book if you have mobipocket installed on your phone (I used to do that when I had the Moto Q) so I think it is safe to say, that is would be part of their porting. This is a win/win for Amazon because it increases readers using ebook software and that can lead to increased sales for them on the e end as well as opening up the possibility that these new readers of ebooks may move to the Kindle because of increased screen size. Plus, a sale of a Mobipocket book is a sale for Amazon as it owns Mobipocket.

Third, the cost factor. The Kindle currently runs $399.00. The Apple 8 GB iPhone runs $399.00 as well except the iPhone is more than just an ebook reader. It is a phone, an internet device (i.e., it can access the web in way that you simply cannot on the Kindle), and an iPod. Do I sound like an iPhone evangelist? I suppose I am. I love it but for the comparable price*, it makes more sense to me than a dedicated device.

With the new iPhones coming out in June, I suspect that the price of the existing iPhones will fall. It’s something to consider at least.

*There is a monthly fee associate with use of the iPhone if you want to use it as a phone. You can, however, use the iPhone without activation AT&T. You would be limited to wi-fi as a way to access the internet.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. DS
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 08:24:25

    Kindle price has dropped to $359.

  2. carolyn Jean
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 08:26:49

    Oh, excellent news!! Another excuse to buy an iPhone, which I so badly want, and I have wanted an ereader, too! Could an iPhone serve as a primary ereader? It sounds like it does for you. Is the screen a bit small, or is it okay?

  3. Terry
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 08:29:55

    Two of my kids have iPhones. Recently, we were all in the same city, and they used them constantly, although none has tried them as eBook readers. I read an eBook on my husband’s PDA once, and I couldn’t adapt to the tiny screen–seemed I was doing nothing but tapping the ‘next screen’ button. I got the dinosaur eBookreader, the eBookwise and find it more than adequate. I also like that it’s more like reading a book because that’s all it does. So I can curl up somewhere and be unconnected.

    But I agree, the iPhone is a nifty tool. One daughter was using it to keep in touch with her husband in Ireland, the other was checking the maps to find out where the heck we were supposed to be going.

    Me, I just upgraded to a cell phone that does more than take and make phone calls, which is all my old one did. It’s a steep learning curve for me, and I thought I was relatively techno-savvy.

  4. Keishon
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 08:32:41

    Thank you. I am curious to know how the SDK on the e end will affect my e library. So our choices from third party apps are “Mobipocket” or “secure e reader” and btw, I prefer neither format. MSLit is my preferred choice but I guess I’m worried that I will not be able to use my iPhone as a e reader, making it the ultimate entertainment gadget ever, simply because my preferred format may not be available to me. Will it read html? Just throwing out questions, thinking aloud here.

    I really wish they would do away with the proprietary format as there are still ebooks in my cart at Fictionwise (that I’d like to purchase) that are not available in any other format save Mobipocket.

  5. Janine
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 11:06:36

    I would rather own an e-ink dedicated device than an iPhone. Right now I use a Dell Axim 51V PDA and I get tired of both the frequent scrolling and the wear on my eyes. I find that 9 times out of 10 at least, I read paper books rather than e-books because they are so much more comfortable for me. So when my PDA dies, I am definitely going the e-ink route.

  6. BevQB
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 12:27:34

    So, Jane… you gonna get one of the new ones? Cuz you KNOW we’re all counting on you to figure it out first and then tell the rest of us about it!

    Reading through these comments and those of previous posts on ebook readers, and knowing my own requirements and preferences for reading books, it’s apparent that no one has come close to inventing the perfect ebook reader. Every device seems to mean major compromises for the purchaser.

    Although, for me, the IPhone and the Astaks you posted about a couple of weeks ago seem to have the most promise. If only Amazon or Sony would listen to what those of us out here in the real world want.

  7. ciara
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 13:21:00

    sweeeeet. I’m addicted to my iphone. It would be even better if I could read ebooks.
    Typed from my iPhone.

  8. KCfla
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 13:27:18

    So what you’re saying is that soon there will be a way to use the IPhone as a reader, without having to “hack” the phone? Srsly?! COOL!

    I got an IPhone for Christmas, and having read ( several times btw!) your previous posts on how to hack the thing, I decided not to try it. I was frankly afraid of screwing the phone up. And I’m like you in my love for the darn thing, and not seeing the need to spend money ( which I really don’t have) on another device to read books on.

    Heck, that’s why I got the IPhone to begin with- so I didn’t have to lug around a phone, PDA, IPod, etc. I hate the idea of needing a fork-lift to carry my purse lol!

    As to the $20 a month fee to use the IPhone- SO.WORTH.IT!
    But if you want to avoid the fee, just buy an ITouch. FWIW It has everything but the phone, and access is the same as an unactivated phone.

  9. Jane
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 20:15:43

    Could an iPhone serve as a primary ereader? It sounds like it does for you. Is the screen a bit small, or is it okay?

    Yes, I like to use it. I get about 4 paragraphs of text on the screen at a time. It’s smaller than a paperback, obviously. It might be worthwhile to go to an Apple store, if you can, and view a web page on it. See if you can read the text and if it is comfortable for your eyes.

    Will it read html?

    I think you’ll have to convert it but don’t really know.

    So, Jane… you gonna get one of the new ones? Cuz you KNOW we're all counting on you to figure it out first and then tell the rest of us about it!

    Nope. My current iPhone is just fine. Plus, I keep hearing rumors of a iTablet or something like that and I’m saving my pennies for that.

  10. Jim
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 23:08:24

    Just a note that you can read unencrypted Mobipocket books on the iPhone right now – http://code.google.com/p/iphonetextreader/

    Books.app will hopefully also be adding support soon.

    Other supported eBook formats include plain text, fb2, html, Plucker, and Palm Doc.

  11. Amreen
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 06:36:31

    Nice post thanks for sharing such a great information.

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