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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Apple aps go eBooks crazy


One in five new apps in the Apple app store last month was an electronic book. There are now 10,000 ebooks for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, most of them free and many available for download as entire libraries.

For example, Classics (£1.79) is a collection of 23 — you guessed it — classics, including Dracula and Pride and Prejudice. Browse a book from the shelf and the beautifully animated page-turns and crinkly paper sound effects are enough to win over even a diehard dead-tree bibliophile. Even so, as all its titles are out of copyright and therefore, in effect, free, it’s a bit of a cheek to charge so much.

With the Great Books Mega Collection (£1.19) you get 200 for your money, with the option of setting it to roll an entire chapter past your eyes — good autocue practice for newsreaders. Free Books (an oxymoronic £1.19) includes those same 200 books plus a further 23,269. The volumes are not actually included in the app; instead it’s a searchable index on which you tap to download. This means you’ll need to be in a wi-fi zone or have a 3G signal to install a book.

Why pay a thing? With the free Shakespeare app you get the Bard’s 37 plays, 154 sonnets and five poems along with a search function capable of picking out a phrase in seconds. Wattpad is another free app for Apple and Nokia devices, but classics are hard to find among thousands of self-published works — mostly misspelt and attempting to titillate. Less like browsing in a library; more like marking year 10’s English homework.

To get hold of any new bestseller, you’ll need to shell out real cash. Most usable of the bookstore apps is the B&N eReader (free for Apples and BlackBerrys). You’ll need to open an online account (in US dollars) with the Barnes & Noble chain (prices are a little lower than in UK bookshops); the app then saves each download on the smartphone and puts a copy on your computer.

After which, all that remains is to stoke the fire and throw on another hardback.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I had no idea it had grown so much. I can't imagine reading something on a screen that small but I guess it would be OK to look up particular information.