eBooks on the iPhone


Hardback, paperback, new, used, it doesn’t matter to me—I’ve always loved books. I’m the kind of guy who reads a book while waiting in a long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and then gets annoyed at the interruption when they finally call my name. I love reading, but have recently encountered a couple obstacles to my passion.

The first relates to my long commute to and from work, which provides me with an excellent chunk of time to read. Unfortunately, hardcover books are heavy and cumbersome, and lugging one around every day was beginning to annoy me. The second relates to my family, which continues to grow. As it does, I’m losing bookshelf space, and more and more of my books are ending up in boxes in the basement.

To help remedy the situation, I started looking into eBooks. Of course, they immediately eliminate the bookshelf problem; you can store them on your computer or a mobile eBook reader like Amazon’s Kindle 2 (see sidebar, page 38). I’m a fan of the Kindle, but have discovered that it’s not always the right device for me because of its size. While that nice screen is great for reading (not to mention the even larger screen on the recently announced Kindle DX), it is not always the most portable device around. Sometimes I just want something I can stick in my pocket and go. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a number of eBook solutions available for the iPhone and iPod touch, all of which are available on the iTunes App Store. I’ve divided these apps into two categories:

  • Expandable readers allow you control which books you purchase and what you put in the reader’s library.
  • Closed readers are sold as single, unalterable units with either a single book or a collection of books pre-installed.

Expandable readers

Most expandable readers are associated with a specific online store or eBook source. Unfortunately, because of Digital Rights Management, this means that the eBooks you buy from these sources are tied to that specific app—you can’t view them with another reader. Hopefully, we’ll see some changes in this paradigm before too long.

Why I will never buy another hardback book again.
Summer 2009
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