Why Are eReader Apps Stuck in the DOS Era?
Textbook Publishing vs. Lifelong Learning Publishing

"iBookstore vs Kindle Bookstore" & "Which Device Wins?"

Here are two somewhat related questions I'm being asked a lot lately:

#1: Which bookstore experience do you prefer, Apple's iBookstore or Amazon's Kindle bookstore?

#2: Which e-reader device do you believe is going to "win"?

My answers to both of these might surprise you.

Regarding the first question, I thought when I bought my iPad I'd never buy another ebook from Amazon.  Boy, was I wrong!  I've owned an iPad for almost 5 months and all but one of my ebook purchases have been from Amazon.  And the one iBookstore purchase I made is one I'd like to take a mulligan on and buy from Amazon instead.

Why?  One (hyphenated) word: multi-platform.

Although I'm extremely down on Amazon's continued investment in the e-reader hardware space, I'm a huge fan of their ebook business.  (Well, all except for the crazy DRM they still implement...but that's more a problem with publishers than Amazon.)

Towards the end of my Kindle usage I was feeling pretty stupid for buying all those Kindle ebooks.  Now I'm glad I did.  Anything I bought from Amazon can be read on my iPad, my iPhone, my Mac, a Windows computer and pretty much any other piece of hardware I'm likely to use.  Has anyone seen Apple's iBooks app for Windows?  How about the iBooks app for the Blackberry?  Better yet, do you think there's a chance Apple will release an iBooks app for the Android platform?  No, none of these exist today and the likelihood of them ever coming about is slim to none.  Steve Jobs makes some awesome products but he's not a fan of cross-platform usage.

So although the iBooks app is nice, I refuse to paint myself into a corner and be limited to a single platform.  Gee, that sounds like what I used to say about the Kindle platform, which leads me to the second question...

I'm lumping all dedicated e-readers (e.g., Kindle) as well as multi-purpose devices (e.g., iPad) into my thinking.  Sure, eInk is great in the sun, but as I like to say, if it's a sunny day I'd rather be doing something other than sitting around reading!  With that in mind, my answer to the "which device wins" question is...Android.

Yep, that's right, I'm picking the Android platform.  And yes, I know there's no single Android "device" and as of today you can't even buy an Android tablet.  But when the Android tablets start rolling out, I'll be exploring them for my next purchase.

I have about 10 months left on my current AT&T/iPhone agreement, so next summer looks like the right time for me to make the platform jump to Android for both phone and tablet.  The Android app market is still pretty thin and that gives developers even more time to fill in all the holes.  Everyone I know who has already switched from iPhone to Android loves the latter.  I'll probably also be ready to buy a new tablet next summer and you can bet the Android prices will be attractive compared to the iPad ones.

Then there's the Google Editions release that always seems to be "a couple of months from now."  You can bet Editions will support all hardware platforms, which probably means when it hits I may need to reconsider my answer to question #1!


Ed Renehan

I'm with you. I read a heck of a lot of books using the Kindle app on my iPad, and I buy virtually all my eBooks from Amazon.

Francis Hamit

I have decided to use Amazon Kindle for the first reiteration of all of our new books. Call it a beta test. I gave up on Smashwords. We simply could not find a way to format for their premium list even with contractors. Life is too short and we have other things to do (among them, a film deal). Since Amazon opened up Kindle to all of these other platforms, they make sense and I can make a business case for using them as a channel. Cover art is easy to upload and so is text, even using the Wordperfect version of Word. I still have over 800 unused ISBNs and piles of legacy material to exploit,

But I'm also writing new fiction. I sent a story to a major magazine about a year ago and a follow-up letter a month ago. No reply and this story sits unread. I've very tempted to just release it on Kindle at the minimum of 99 cents and go straight to the readers and the marketplace. Time is money and the more titles I put up the more I will sell of all of them. It has become a choice between a moderate check for first rights and an infinite amount in e-book form.

As for putting "The Shenandoah Spy" back up, well, maybe. I'm raising the price to $22.50 per copy and see no reason to discount the e-book version. I note that many publishers offer e-books at hardbound prices as a convenience to the customer. Content is content, whether or not it's electronic or print. Understand I don't care what price Amazon sells any title for, as long as I get my net per copy. They don't pay as much as Ingram anyway.

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