I am an avid reader and love to open a good book when I’ve got a few minutes to spare. But with limited storage, it was hard to carry around much of a library. That changed when I discovered Kindle and Shortcovers; two iPhone apps that let me download eBooks directly to my iPhone and read them whenever I want. Some free books are available for both apps, but most will cost you $5-$10. I currently have eight eBooks on my iPhone and they are not taking up space in my saddlebag!
Slacker (slacker.com) is a free service that lets you specify the music which interests you and create a personal station that streams that type of music. Like Pandora Radio (summer ’09 issue, page 62), Slacker Radio makes it easy for you to create your station. You can begin by simply naming your favorite song or artist.
Just about anything you’d ever need is available on Amazon.com, and they’re working hard to make it easier to shop there. Their iPhone/iPod touch offerings include both the Amazon Mobile app, their iPhone version of the Web site available through Safari, and their Kindle app.
The Amazon Mobile app lets you quickly search for a product, compare prices, read reviews, and make purchases on Amazon.com via a simple interface. You can also access Amazon features such as wish lists, payment and shopping options, order history, 1-click settings, and prime membership benefits.
If you're bored this weekend and enjoy comics, the Comics (Free) app might be just the thing. It offers over 50 free comic books, with more being added every week. If you get hooked, then you can buy the paid version (99 cents), which has in-app purchasing so that you can load up on more comics. The publishers include AdHouse Books, Creative Impulse, Evil Twin Comics, Moonstone, and Zenescope. The app requires iPhone 3.0 or later.
Barnes & Noble released a free eBook reader for the iPhone and iPod touch late last week and announced that they intend to offer over 700,000 books in their new eBook store, including 500,000 free ones in collaboration with Google Books. Like Amazon, their price for new offerings is $9.95. You can read more about their new eBook store in a report in the New York Times.
One of the big surprises of the past couple years has been the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader. Serious readers love it, but at around $350 it’s a bit pricey. So I was thrilled when in early March Amazon released a free iPhone app that lets you read any of the 240,000 titles you purchase from the Kindle eBook store.
This app lets you access the Shortcovers Web site and build your own digital library by choosing from thousands of bestselling books, chapters, news and magazine articles, short stories, blog posts, and more.
Most closed reading systems offer classic books that are no longer subject to copyright and other restrictions. The exception to this is the Iceberg Reader system. Scrollmotion (the developers of Iceberg Reader) have partnered with Random House, Hachette, Penguin Putnam, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Simon & Schuster, and are able to offer a uniquely contemporary selection of books.
Classics does not offer content that you can’t find elsewhere, but it does offer an incredibly unique interface that helps replicate the experience of reading a hardcover book.
Rather than displaying a list of books, the main interface is a digital bookshelf with cover images for each of the books in the library. Tap on an image to open the book and start reading it. Even the page turns are animated. Unfortunately, like a hardcover book, there is not much else you can do. Underneath the slick graphics and animation, this is really a no-frills reading experience.
In addition to the well-known document viewer, Readdle Docs, Readdle also publishes a number of eBook collections, including Shakespeare, Fairy Tales, Horror Books, Love Stories, and others. I tested their system out with Shakespeare and was quite impressed.