Bookstores Should Copy Best Buy's Approach
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The Future of Ebook Apps (Today)

Kindle App Screen-2I'm in the process of reading Nick Bilton's excellent book, I Live in the Future and Here's How it Works.  I highly recommend it, btw; look for a detailed review here in the not too distant future.

While Nick's content is extremely fascinating, the reading experience on my iPad has been painfully frustrating.  I want to mark it up and pass excerpts along to colleagues.  That's next to impossible with all the ereader apps out there.  I'm reading it via the Kindle app on my iPad.  Does anyone feel the Kindle app's note-taking feature is adequate?  Anyone at all?  I didn't think so.

At the same time, I'm using a new note-taking app on my iPad.  It's called Noterize (App Store link) and you can find my review of it here.  As I mention in the review, Noterize excels as a document mark-up tool, but imagine an ebook reader app with Noterize functionality built-in.

Click on the image at the top of this blog post to see how it would work.  What I've done there is doctor up a screen shot of Nick Bilton's book from the Kindle iPad app.  I imported it into Noterize and added a bit of highlighting, a handwritten note and a PostIt note.  Know of any ereader apps that let you do this?  No, there aren't any.

I realize what I'm asking for isn't all that useful if you're reading a novel, but how many other types of books have you read where you wrote in the margin or added a PostIt note?  I've got plenty and I think it's ridiculous that something you can do so easily in a physical book can't be done in an ebook.

Now take this to the next level and add the ability to share portions of the book and your notes.  Let readers press a button and share an excerpt via email, Twitter, etc.  Incorporate a "buy now" button and it quickly becomes a marketing tool.  Old-school publishers are already cringing!  So what?  Make it optional by title and let publishers opt out if they're afraid of change.  Over time those publishers will either support it or die off because their products don't offer the same features as competitors.

The first ereader app vendor who adds Noterize-like functionality to their product becomes my preferred ebook store.  I'm just hoping it's not Apple since multi-platform support remains an even more important issue for me.


Jean K

You may want to try iAnnotatePDF, too. The markup capabilities are a bit less free form than Noterize, but I have found it well worth the investment.

In fact, one of my great hopes for the iPad was to have apps just like Noterize and iAnnotatePDF. I freely admit that I have a compulsive highlighting problem with any non-fiction I read, and I figured out very early on that while some reasonable annotation capability existed on the old Palms in eReader and Mobipocket, there was no way a kindle, Nook, or Sony was going to meet my annotation needs.

I have found the annotations in the Nook ipad app to be minimally acceptable in comparison to the Kindle app, iBooks when compared to Noterize and iAnnotatePDF.

Bill Seitz

I think this is going the wrong direction.

You should be able to use whatever note-taking app you find handy. (And avoid having your notes balkanized across multiple ereader devices/apps.)

Delivering a book as a web-site via browser, with a few affordances, then makes it easy to work with whatever tool you want.

Sima Hanimyan

Dear Joe,
Such an interesting point that you have raised. I wonder if you have ever had the opportunity to have a look at product that is called eComPress? One of the best features it has is the ability to annotate and then to collaborate in context within a publication. Sounds like what you are looking for. It’s not an iPad app yet, however an eComPress publication is a powerful electronic publication that transforms reference documentation into a productivity tool that provides users considerable advantage by enabling them to quickly find the information they need to resolve problems, and to read in comfort.

Have a look at the website

They have a set of four tutorials on how to use it. The fourth tutorial is called Collaboration in Context with Notes – it shows you how you virtually write in the margin of your ePub and have little post it notes – with the ability to add in graphics, web address and other content with ease without affecting the integrity of the publication. There are also some free publications that you can download to check it out yourself on the website. Oh and the best part is that you do not need a reader with an eComPress publication – it is built in. Let me know how you go 

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