eBook iPhone Apps Could Make The iPad The Cheapest eReader Out There

Despite the fact that Australia's iPad launch next month won't actually involve the launch of an Australian iBooks bookstore, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to read books on your iPad. In fact, if you look at the current crop of eBook applications on the iPhone, the iPad has the potential to let you get the best possible price for every book you want to buy.

We already know from the iPad's launch that the tablet will use the ePub format for eBooks, meaning that you should be able to copy a whole range of DRM-free eBooks over to the device. But even if that poses a problem, the fact that the iPad will support almost all of the current iPhone apps means that getting books onto your iPad will still be easy. Whether it's via Amazon, Kobo or Random House, there are already plenty of options to read books on your iPhone, so that should naturally translate across to the bigger device.

Here's a look at some of the bigger eBook names on the App Store today: Kobo: Kobo is the platform of choice for Borders and Angus & Robertson to sell eBooks in Australia, but despite the fact they haven't decided on local pricing, you can already pick up books through the Kobo iPhone app. Sure, they're charged in US dollars, but the pricing is pretty consistent with Amazon and almost certainly significantly better than the RRP for the paper version.

There's a huge selection of books available, and the UI is pretty swish. On the larger screen of the iPad, Kobo could really offer something special - although the need to go into Safari to purchase a book is less than ideal.

Amazon Kindle: Even though the iPad is looking to destroy the very memory of the Kindle with its release, Amazon's decision to allow users to read Kindle books on the iPhone could still mean they'll get a slice of Apple's eBook pie.

At last count there are over 300,000 books on the Kindle Store for Australians. You pay in US dollars, which can be a hassle, and finding new books is done through the web browser rather than in-app, but the price is definitely right.

Random House: Rather than have a dedicated eBook app on the App Store, Random House has stuck with its role as publisher, instead pushing out individual books as apps. At the moment there are only 14 different books available to Australians, ranging from free to $30. It's a more expensive option, sure, but you can pay directly through your iTunes account, which saves the hassle of needing to give your credit card details to another online bookstore.

But what makes the fact that these eBook apps are already available is the fact that you can price shop, direct from your iPad (or iPhone). You'll be able to find out which store has the best price, even after Apple launches the iBooks app in Australia.

Sure, this does nothing to help you if you can't stand the thought of reading from an LCD, but at least you can purchase the new tablet knowing that you can actually use it to read books in some way, shape or form.

*Note - there are plenty of other ebook readers available on the iPhone, but many of them are regionally restricted or don't have the same libraries as Amazon or Kobo.



    Just about anything can be called an e-reader... A netbook can be an e-reader. To me and most people who read a lot, an e-reader is defined by the screen, which has to be easier to read than a computer screen, hence warranting an increased price. This has a screen thats harder to read on than an e-ink reader.. and costs more than a low priced netbook... so-

      I agree Sam. This is a play of words. My iPhone or a Nokia 5800 or a notebook or even my laptop could be called an e-reader. The idea behind e-book, however, is the ability to provide a readable screen which doesn't constantly refresh and which isn't backlit and which can be read under the sunlight or indoor lights without straining the eyes. I don't think that iPad or even the upcoming Notion Ink Adam tablet does that and so, cannot be my e-book reader - though they may very well qualify to be my next tablets.

    Will the books application be able to sync read status to a second device like an iphone or ipod touch?

    Because if it does, then in Australia, it's probably in breach of fair use provisions. Here, music is treated differentially and you can create as many copies as you like in different formats, but a book, you are only allowed to create one copy.
    In the itunes model, you've got one stored on your computer, in addition to on the ipad and it can't have a 3rd copy on a 3rd device. You also shouldn't have a copy as a backup (technically).

    One of the problems with a lot of our current copyright laws is that they treat different media differently without much of a reason. It's pretty evident that a lot of it was written in a very reactionary fashion, just to deal with problems immediately visible at the time (and, also, to push through with the AUSFTA, but that's a different issue).

    Definitely something we need to work on here in Aus. The reality of the situation is that these kind of provisions are difficult to enforce, but it would in a way be really nice if someone tried to bring about a bunch of law suits based on them, because it would draw attention to what a mess our intellectual property laws are in Australia. They're difficult to enforce and anachronistic in these kind of cases.

      could mark the end of iBooks for us already

    This is great. Until Apple starts deleting all of the e-reader apps for duplicating functionality.

      my thoughts exactly. It's just like all those free apps on there currently that perform the same function as iTunes.....

    Nick I think you need a new keyboard, you keep putting spaces before the letter s


    "Kindle book son"
    "book savailable"

      ...or a rewired brain that helps me type better. Fixed now...

        Nice story idea! ;-)

    Sure it'll be good.... If the apps scale to the large screen correctly.

    Or you'll be stuck with extra large print my-first-ebooks.

    Cheapest e-reader? Maybe, although I have access to all ebookstores on my computer and can transfer them to my e-reader. But its on the worst possible screen to read books. Seriously anybody who picks this up for e-reading is an idiot.

    Hopefully , Apple will keep the E-Book Compatability to a maximum, E-Books are getting incredibly high tech now. And Apple can help take it to the next level.

    Just wanted to throw Stanza in the mix. It is amazingly intuitive reading software, and seems to handle any format you can throw at it. Also sports free ebook download services from many (legal) sources in-app.

    "...Amazon’s decision to allow users to read Kindle books on the iPhone..."

    It is more Apple's decision than Amazon's, since Apple controls which apps are approved.

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