Books and the App Store

An article in the Guardian is one of many that cites Moblix data which suggests that there are more ebook apps than games on Apple’sApp Store for iphone/ipod touch:

…there are more than 27,000 books now available as apps. Games lag behind, with 25,400 published this year, followed by entertainment, education and travel.

Of course, many of those books are re-packaged public domain titles, and others strange vanity publishing titles. What the figures don’t refer to is the hundreds of thousands of titles available via the various barnes and noble, kindle and stanza applications – which either incorporate bookstores/sources of their own or in the case of the kindle app provide easy access to the Amazon library.

Which mirrors a conversation I had with a colleague – should publishers create standalone apps or epub titles which can be read by and bought from within existing apps? Ultimately it depends on the book – cookbooks seem to be working really well as standalone apps – and some even take advantage of iphone features beyond the ebook reader. But for long form text, I’d lean towards the latter. One glance at the chaos that is the book section of the app store explains why. Searching for books is a pain and browsing is impossible. And with Apple’s forthcoming iBooks, it’s unlikely that they’ll bother to provide any more granularity in the section. Indeed, some are speculating that they’re more likely to let it die.

I suspect what’ll pan out is a fairly clear division. “Traditional” books – long form texts etc – will happily live in the ibook store, the reconfigured kind will exist as apps.


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