Some Interesting Developments in eBooks Today

Today brought some very interesting developments in the world of eBooks. The information also came to me in interesting ways. My wife was sick, so I stayed home from work to take care of the boys. I was using my mobile devices heavily. First, because the iPhone and iPod Touch have Exchange server support, I was able to keep up with a few things at work because of my Touch, which is set up for my company's Exchange server. I have a work issued BlackBerry, but I was carrying my Touch around with me anyway to listen to my podcasts rather than let a bunch build up. I was also using my Samsung Epix heavily today. I'd let a bunch of email pile up lately, so I was bouncing back and forth between the two devices to get through my personal account. I like the larger screen on the iPod Touch, but some of my html mail reads better in FlexMail 4 on the Epix. Also, the Epix's keyboard is slightly easier to use than the touch keypad on the iPod Touch.

I was catching up on some Twitter traffic on my Epix in Twobile when I saw that Michael Hyatt had downloaded something called "Kindle for iPhone". I switched over to my Touch, brought up the App Store, and searched for Kindle. I found it and downloaded it. From what I've read so far, using this application, I can purchase Kindle formatted books WITHOUT having to buy the $359 Kindle, but if I buy the Kindle, my books will sync between the devices.


I also noticed yesterday that Michael Hyatt announced a new Thomas Nelson program, Nelson Free, which allows customers to get multiple formats of a single product. Until we left the book dark ages today, if you buy a book, you can choose between the hard copy, or the audiobook, or the MobiPocket version (if available), or the eReader version (if available) or the Kindle version (if available) or the .pdf version (again, if available). However, if you need multiple versions, you have to buy them separately, paying a price for each one. The horror! But please, bear with me. I use MobiPocket on my Epix. MobiPocket isn't available for the iPod Touch though, which leaves me with Stanza and eReader. I like Stanza, which has a huge repository of books available, many of them free. I'm not a fan of eReader though. The application seems decent, but I'm not about to buy anything for it and converting my current eLibrary to eReader is a galactic pain in the butt. eReader expects you to format into "Palm Markup Language", which is similar to html. I can drag and drop books into MobiPocket and they'll auto-format very easily. I have yet to find a decent "fire and forget" converter to eReader format, so I largely ignore it because it's a pain to try to use. I believe I can create my own books for Stanza, but it requires eReader format, which puts me back in the same spot. If I had a Kindle, that's one more device to carry. 

I like the idea of having a hard copy book, plus electronic versions. It's often nice to sit in a chair in a well-lit room and read a book, but it's not always easy to carry that book everywhere. I wouldn't carry most books to work, but I often find myself with a few minutes to kill, which can be filled by reading books in MobiPocket on my Epix, or Stanza on my iPod Touch. For all anyone knows, I'm sorting through email or my calendar.

Here is what I consider my "wish list" for eBooks:
  • MobiPocket for iPod Touch- I download quite a few free or public domain books that are easily formatted into MobiPocket and then I put them on my Epix. I like the fact that all of my notes and highlights sync between my laptop and my Epix. I'd love to have the same easy transfer on my iPod Touch, which has the larger screen.
  • Kindle for Windows Mobile- now this would be cool! I like my iPod Touch, but it would be nice to see a Kindle application for Windows Mobile with the same syncing across platforms offered on the iPhone and Kindle currently. It would be nice if Amazon saw the potential more in the delivery platform. I wish them well in their hardware sales, but Amazon sells books. Let them supply the format and let the customer decide on which platform he or she wants to use. I find the prices of Kindle books to be fairly reasonable. I also like the idea that I could simply drop one platform and pick up another "at the drop of a hat". When I agonized over whether to switch to iPhone or stay with Windows Mobile, the ease with which I can convert electronically formatted documents into MobiPocket format was one of the main reasons I stayed with Windows Mobile. It wasn't the only reason, but it was in my top 5. Also, Stanza wasn't yet out when I last faced the decision. Neither was the 2.2 firmware on the iPhone/Touch.   

  I'm excited though. I'd love to see a day and age when my books are interchangeable between formats and platforms, and I don't have to agonize over whether I want print, electronic, or audio or buy the same book 3 times.
  

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