again with the eBooks

The (much deserved) hype surrounding the iPhone has spread to the publishing world. HarperCollins has released 14 Books for the iPhone. This lame attempt is unlikely to finally get ebooks right (an impossible task in our highly DRMed world), and might get people excited for only a limited amount of time. I do see the iPhone as an interesting piece of the eBook puzzle, though, considering it is the first high PPI device that people are carrying around on a daily basis.

I read about this right before I read Jessamyn’s post (with comments worth reading) about Overdrive, audiobooks, and the iPod. I love her attitude about making the most of a crappy DRM situation and using the inevitable patron iPod denial as a teachable moment about free audiobooks online.

Similarly, I doubt libraries will be circing titles to patron iPhones anytime soon. Instead we can tell them about Project Gutenberg and iPhone formatted PDFs from manybooks.net.

5 thoughts on “again with the eBooks”

  1. This lame attempt could help get things right if Apple itself opened things up and helped force a resolution to the issue, much the way it has with music. They refuse to keep taking that last step, though, and opening up their own products, so iPhone and iPod users are stuck with iTunes and Apple DRM.

    Personally, I think the hype would be much deserved if it focused on this issue and Apple’s failure to innovate something that doesn’t just lock more users into Apple’s own products. They should walk their talk.

  2. Not at all. I’m saying Apple should walk their big talk because right now, they are a big part of the reason that this is such an “impossible task.” It’s all well and good to ooh and aah over the iPhone, but if we don’t also point out that it helps cause some of these problems in the first place, then we’re only telling half the story.

    Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything HarperCollins can do to pressure this 800-pound gorilla. :-\

  3. For some reason, Apple has never shown an interest in e-books. I’m sure the iPhone could be made into a pretty good e-book device if Apple wanted to make it so. This situation might present a great opportunity to Google, which is rumored to be investing big bucks on the so-called gPhone:

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/03/google-getting-more-serious-about-the-gphone/

    If the gPhone proves to be a great e-book device, think about the possibilities for Google to begin to deliver all those books they have been digitizing. It’s hard to believe they have been doing all that scanning just be to able to deliver snippets in their BookSearch product. They want to become the new Library of Alexandria with a fully integrated discovery/delivery solution for every book that was every printed.

    And that, my friends, might be the library killer.

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