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Stanza for iTouch / iPhone

I updated the software on my iPod Touch over the weekend (and *man* it took a long time). But this morning, after a newsflash from TeleRead, I downloaded and installed the (free) Stanza iPod application from the iTunes store, which is exactly why I ran the upgrade.

Crucially – see below – Stanza (which also has a good desktop version for Mac users) supports the ePub standard. (ePub has been “adopted” by a growing number of the publishers who are digitising content – although they are of course hedging their bets with “support” for any other number of standards and formats and DRM options).

In other words, getting digitised content onto the iPhone for Stanza shouldn’t technically be a problem, although availability is another issue.

What is interesting about this coming out today is the growing feeling of a tipping point happening with ebooks, although not coming from where one would have expected it. Rather than Apple themselves adding ebook software and distribution to the iPod/iPhone (or a new device), they have simply outsourced the job, and let the market produce one, or many such options. And by doing this very easy thing, they have got the jump on Amazon, Sony, Iliad, Borders, Waterstones – everyone.

Let’s get this straight – ebooks and the iPhone / iTouch are very good friends at the moment, and it may be that Apple is making the most popular iPhone an ereader by stealth.

Last week we read that almost 8% of iTunes “applications” for the new iPhone are reported to be ebooks, and the entertainment division of the iTunes store is stuffed with (out of copyright) books being sold.

The question for me is – when will the first (UK?) publisher break ranks and upload the first frontlist title in ePub to the Apple store, without DRM, and at a sensible price?

If / when a publisher is brave enough to do this, not only will they gain a huge amount of good PR, they may also break open the floodgates for using iPhone / iTunes as an electronic book platform. (As we know, publishers are quite good at copying one another when a competitor makes a new announcement). Of course, they’d stuff up all of their secret deals to wrap their content in proprietary DRM’d formats with their existing customers, but we may actually see a viable market emerge.

If such a thing happened, it would make a mockery of the need for an expensive, crippled, dedicated device such as the Sony reader, which as luck would have it, the Indy broke news of this morning: Waterstones to sell Sony Reader in September.

It would also further marginalise the overwhelmingly underwhelming release of the Iliad through Borders. Note that neither Sony / Waterstones or Borders / Iliad has an effective, trusted, and “adopted” retail infrastructure for selling eBooks. It would also put Amazon’s Kindle launch in the UK under more pressure.

Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t need to manufacture such a device or channel: it exists. iTunes is the perfect channel for getting ebooks onto iPhones, and is on millions of computers worldwide. There is no adoption curve.

So, if Stanza can support ePub; and publishers are supporting ePub, and iTunes can support the sale of products on behalf of third parties – why isn’t every UK publisher rushing to get its books into ePub on iTunes?

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Future of the book, Publishing.

Apt’s links for July 11th // Apt’s links for July 14th

  1. # Comment by Frank Norman @ 4:22 pm, July 14, 2008:

    Does the iPhone have the screen resolution to support ebooks? I thought the point of Illiad, Kindle etc was the high res screen that makes reading more like reading print on paper?

  2. # Pingback by Sittin’ Here, Watching The Market Go By | Booksquare @ 4:56 pm, July 14, 2008:

    [...] Times Emit discovered a Stanza ereader, thanks to a tip from Teleread, so I went and got that one too. Stanza supports the .epub format, but the library is mostly public domain. AppEngines also has a combo reader/book thing going on — you can purchase the whole package for ninety-nine cents (search on ebooks when in the iTunes store). Granted, what you’re purchasing is public domain content, but it’s a interesting experiment in mixing form and function, or something like that. [...]

  3. # Pingback by teXtes » Blog Archive » un iPhone, vite ! @ 9:58 pm, July 14, 2008:

    [...] sur Times Emit, un appel est lancé aux éditeurs : qui sera le premier à signer avec [...]

  4. # Comment by Kate Hyde @ 12:57 pm, July 15, 2008:

    I’ve now downloaded Stanza on my iPod and had a play. There’s a few finickity things I find a little cumbersome, like lack of white space and [lack of] scrolling, but I reckon these are things I’ll very quickly adapt to. And hence I think you have a very good point, Peter.

    From a average book reader’s point of view I LOVE the fact I’ve hardly had to do a thing to start reading 1001 books. No purchase of expensive dedicated book reading hardware, no getting used to a different distribution platform (I use and trust iTunes all the time). Within 120 seconds I got Anna Kerenina, all set to read on my journey home, in a form I can actually enjoy rather than find painful.

    From the average non-reader’s point of view this is somewhat of a breakthrough. It’s finally gotten more easy to read a classic (or frontlist title, if we all take heed to this post) than London Lite.

    No More Excuses.

  5. # Pingback by Times Emit: Two good podcasts on “publishing 2.0″ @ 11:04 am, July 21, 2008:

    [...] iPod moment for Books: How UK readers can’t actually buy eBooks Stanza for iPhone: How UK publishers can’t actually sell eBooks New Work: We’re really [...]

  6. # Pingback by Times Emit: Mad Men: Books as psychological (product) placement @ 8:15 am, July 30, 2008:

    [...] Stanza: ebooks for iPhone Harlequin: Enriched The iPod Moment for Books [...]

  7. # Pingback by Times Emit: Announcing Enhanced Editions @ 2:03 pm, July 8, 2009:

    [...] Editions has been in planning and development for about a year, inspired in part by a blog post I wrote about Stanza last summer. It’s been an amazing process, and I can’t wait to share the results with [...]

  8. # Pingback by enhanced editions : édition sur mobile, nativement numérique « teXtes @ 4:04 pm, July 8, 2009:

    [...] a muri pendant près d’un an, et le point de départ a été cet article rédigé par Peter à propos de Stanza, au moment du lancement de [...]

  9. # Pingback by The Digitizers: An interview with Peter Collingridge of Enhanced Editions | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home @ 6:09 pm, October 1, 2009:

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  10. # Pingback by Enhancing the Ebook | Enhanced Editions @ 12:53 pm, February 28, 2010:

    [...] the summer of 2008, when the app store came out, I blogged about how it was going to be the most exciting new distribution platform for publishers. Yet I was [...]

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