iPhone Ebooks: The New Fart Apps

A buzzy new report says that iPhone ebook apps are on the rise and accounted for more new apps in October — nearly a fifth — than even games. It's unexpected and exciting, but what does it mean? Spam, is what.

The data shows a clear rise in ebook apps over the last few months, such that they account for a staggering number of the new apps showing up in the store. It's true! Look at the chart! But here's the thing: this is purely a measure of how many new apps there are, not how well they're doing. But still, why such a huge uptick? Let's do a little experiment.

Pick your favourite public domain book. No, scratch that, pick your least favourite public domain book — something you had to read back in your first year of uni, and that you immediately and angrily sold back to the campus bookstore. Now, search for it in the App Store. Here's our answer:

Treasure Island, a free, public domain book, is available for purchase as a standalone app from over a dozen different developers, in all kinds of containers, at all kinds of prices. And why not! The content is free, so once the developer has designed an ebook app container, he or she can just CTRL+Z any public domain e-text in there and throw it into the App Store. I have no idea if these things sell, but to be honest, they wouldn't have to do very well to make money for their developers — the investment is minimal.

Even more to the point, if the iPhone really starts to pose a threat to traditional ereaders, it won't be evident in stats like this — it'll be through increased book downloads in all-in-one ereader apps, like Amazon's Kindle, B&N's Reader and unaffiliated apps like eReader and Stanza. That's a real possibility, but for now, we should call this rapid explosion of redundant, overpriced, exploitative apps like we see it. [GigaOm]

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