Thursday, May 21, 2009

The iPhone as a book reader

The iPhone is quite revolutionary: not as a phone, not as a podcast or music player, but as a book reader. I am not sure they designed it with that in mind but I think the dam is about to burst and we are about to enter a new age of reading. That sounds like hyperbole but I am convinced it is not.

The portability of the iPhone, its constant presence in ones pocket, combined with a passable screen for reading and eReader apps like Stanza and eReader mean that you can carry around a library in your pocket. That has been theoretically possible for ages but with the iPhone it is actually a library I want to read. Whenever I have a spare moment, I can pull out my iPhone and read a page of a novel. The next time I open the ereader application it will be open on that page. I am casually reading novels in a way that I haven't done for years.

All Apple have to do is to put an ibooks section on their itunes software and they will have instantly grabbed themselves a large slice of the future book market. I bet Amazon, who have put their eggs in the Kindle basket, are worried about that possibility. At the moment, actually buying ebooks is a little bit of a minefield because of competing formats and very difficult for me because I live in Japan. There are all kinds of petty restrictions on international rights. ITunes has the international presence to get round that (as, of course, do Amazon but they seem to be fiddling around with a particular idea about Kindle being their vehicle. I think the iPhone is changing the game and that the pace of the game is speeding up.)

In the meantime, as always happens when rights owner dilly dally, I am discovering the possibilities of free content. The free Project Gutenberg has so many books. I am reading Austen's "Persuasion" at the moment. Finished "Last of the Mohicans". Maybe Jane Eyre next? Or War and Peace. I might put Ulysses on it, so I can gradually read a page at a time.


Tim said...

Right on.

But don't forget the iPod Touch. I bought one just to use as a book reader (and absolutely love it for that purpose), only to discover that it has many functions that I now use everyday (email, shopping lists, news and weather, podcasts). And there is also Skype (works way, way better on the Touch than on my iMac), and maybe a dozen other really useful apps I use.

I can't imagine a better book reader, since, like you say, it is always in one's pocket ready to go. I find I am reading far more than before. Lots of wonderful books available for free, too. Sweet.

Pete Vann said...

Here's an article: